Anna Freud focused on ego strengths, including the capacity to master, create with intention, and interact with others and culture. She valued education and founded clinics to help struggling families and individuals. She opened the conversation on freedom and safety, noting that the ego both wants change and wants the security of the familiar, no matter how painful. By looking at the ego in the broadest terms, she developed “character analysis,” where drive meets ego and superego, creating our personal style of being in the world. Hers is a positive worldview wherein we can each adapt to our present circumstances and always gather more skills for living.

This chapter places Heinz Hartmann, René Spitz, Margaret Mahler, and Erik Erikson within the ego psychology tradition. Hartmann is known for clarifying the tenets of ego psychology as a clinical enterprise. Spitz famously documented what happens to children when they are physically cared for but not given enough human contact—what is now referred to as “failure to thrive.” Mahler studied children in various laboratory situations and created a very useful developmental paradigm, culminating in what became known as the “rapprochement crisis.” Erikson gave us the first adult development model, which is still in use today.