THE concept of autonomous ego functioning was formulated by Hartmann (1939, pp. 3-21; 1950) to describe those aspects of a person's adaptation to his environment that are constitutionally determined and develop independently of conflict. As Rapaport (1951a, pp. 364367) points out in his commentary on Hartmann's work, the notion of an autonomously developing and conflict-free sphere of ego operations represented a new direction in psychoanalytic thinking about mental functioning. Whereas classical psychoanalytic theory postulates that the ego and its various activities originate as a secondary consequence of the frustration of primary instinctual drives, Hartmann maintains that certain ego operations, including perception, intention, object comprehension, thinking, language, recall phenomena, productivity, motor development, and the learning processes implicit in all of these arise independently of need deprivation.