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Psychology Glossary of Terms

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Altruistic surrender

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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