In her book The Ego
and the Mechanisms of Defence (1937),
Anna Freud drew upon her father’s work, and systemized a series of strategies used by the Ego in order to cope with the undesired impulses and social tensions to which the human Ego becomes exposed. These concepts stem from the Freudian psychoanalysis’ description of the mental apparatus as a stratified entity, which confronts the conscious Ego with the pressures of both the Id (the biological) and the Superego (the sociological), thus altering the apparatus’ preference towards inactivity. In this collection, the artist personifies these defence mechanisms —namely: regression, displacement, projection, denial, repression, and sublimation— while focusing on the aesthetics of trauma and protection that characterise most of his artwork. In a slightly more autobiographical appropriation, the concept is reinforced by the usage of the naked body and external organic elements as the main means to portray the fragility of the Self’s health and identity.