I'm very interested in psychoanalysis ontologization of the "self"-concept meaning: The idea that there is a self - a continuous entity with some inner dynamic, that we must fight (defense mechanism) to preserve, and that the disintegration of such a self would be horrible, which is in contrast to accepting Buddhist belief that we now see become popular in forms of mindfulness in clinical settings as well.

I'm having a hard time tracing back who's writing about this ontoligized self - does anyone have any literature that describes or deals with this?

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    I doubt you're going to find any psychoanalytic literature supporting the position you describe; psychoanalysis takes as one of its tenets that the "self" is a construction, made up of a multiplicity of conflicting functions-- in other words, it rejects a static (or self-identical) ontologized "self." Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 16:32
  • As a BA in Psychology I have to disagree - The psychodynamic perspective of psychoanalysis is an inner dynamic. The whole psychoanalytic paradigme is based upon preserving a self, through combat (defence-mechanism), whose disintegration is a bad thing. The whole idea of the psyche concisting of components (ID, Ego, Super-ego) is a structuralist way of thinking.
    – Jakob
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 17:16
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    But the fact that disintegration is a bad thing does not mean that the "self" has been ontologized; it is not an entity. Note also that I spoke of "conflicting functions", not structures; as you point out, the Id/Ego/Superego is but one classical psychoanalytic approach among many (Ucs-Pcs-Cs, drives, instincts, etc.) Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 17:25
  • I see the distinction between functions and structures, sorry for not being loyal to your statements. I still posit it is an ontologization, because it implicitly assumes that there can be no experience without or outside "the self." The self is the organizing principle of the experience, whether you suppress it by structurally cutting off the experience from the rest of the self-functions, or you deal with it.
    – Jakob
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 17:31
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    @Jakob: There is a huge (and critical) difference between an "organizing principle" and "an ontological entity." Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 6:48

2 Answers 2


I think what you´re looking for is generally summed up as "Philosophy of Mind". Since you´re looking for positions, that argue for a seperate mind, you should check out the SEP on Dualism, which is a good start to get into it: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/

If you´re looking for a particular author, you could start with Descartes and his Meditations, they are pretty famous and accesible online, e.g. here: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/descartes/meditations/meditations.html

I also found "The Philosophy of Mind" by P. Smith and O.R. Jones to be a very good introduction into the topic.

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    I appreciate your input. What I'm looking for is someone who's in opposition to this ontologization of the self. The standpoint is definately phenomenologically oriented, but not as I interpret Descartes he is more in line with psychoanalysis, than buddhism. What I'm looking for is something more along the lines of Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy, but with explicit reference to deconstructing the idea of a "self". Nicholas Rose would be another offer of an advocate of this post-structuralistic standpoint (as opposed to the structuralism of psychoanalysis), but his perspective is not bodily
    – Jakob
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 17:11
  • Maybe I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, but thinkers along the line of Deleuze, Guattari, Merleau-Ponty distancing themselves phenomenologically from the self's organizing of the environment - it is a semiotic point, in which the self is not an actor in the construction of the experience, but the environment is experienced for what it is, and not for what it does in relation to the self as a product (as in self-development). An existentialist phenomenological viewpoint rather than essentialistic.
    – Jakob
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 17:14
  • reading your posts today you have some great points, one thinker i would recommend for this area is R.D Laing
    – Dr Sister
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 3:34
  • @Seldom - Which led me to anti-psychiatry, which of course shares some points with what I'm looking for. Excellent advice thank you!
    – Jakob
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 9:04

an interesting conversation after a lecture on the history of the debate over behaviourisms reductions and whether or not they legitimised psychology as being a science on par with the other physical sciences .. the lecturers point was that it didn't, and the resultant view is really just acceptance that many principles and constructs of psychology are only of a more heuristic value, for the reason the degree of certainty for predicting individual cases is just not the same as the physical sciences, constructs and principles contain this implicit acknowledgement of their limitations. To create a model with predictive power is different to an ontology of the self, and although Freud was not a scientist in this sense, i think the model he created is of a kind which has this same acknowledgement of the limits of its completeness. +1 for a good question :)

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