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Definition: As proposed by Anna Freud, an ego defense mechanism whereby a person avoids anxiety by living vicariously through someone else. Example: As a child, Laura expressed ambitions of having a successful career and many children. As an adult, Laura never actively pursued a career and never had children. She did, however, closely follow the career developments of her friends and was devoted to their children. Background: In 1937, Anna Freud (1895-1982) published an influential book called The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, in which she added two new ego defense mechanisms to her father's list: altruistic surrender and identification with the aggressor. Both mechanisms are unique in their incorporation of another person for purposes of defense. In altruistic surrender, a person avoids anxiety by living vicariously, abandoning her or her own ambitions and replacing them with those of someone else. Further Reading:
Freud, A. (1937). The ego and mechanisms of defense. New York: International Universities Press.
Sandler, J. (1983). Reflections of some relations between psychoanalytic concepts and psychoanalytic practice [On-line] Available: http://www.ijpa.org/jsjune00.htm
Related Terms: Ego defense mechanisms
Freud, Anna (1895 - 1982)
Freud, Sigmund (1856 - 1939)
Identification with the aggressor
Self-Instructional Resources: Take a 1-item self-test over this concept.
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