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Superego Lacunae: Holes in the Conscience

Louis R. Franzini, PhD

CE Credit: 1 Hour

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | School Psychology CE

Learning Level: Intermediate

Course Type: Online

Course Abstract

Superego Lacunae: Holes in the Conscience is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE) course that explores the frequently unfamiliar concept of superego lacunae, also known as gaps or holes in certain individuals’ consciences.

Superego lacunae was first described by physicians Adelaide M. Johnson (1949) and Johnson & S. A. Szurek (1952). Their theorizing of superego lacunae began as a way to understand the acting out of children who featured a defect in their internal controls in specific areas of their behavior, rather than a generalized weakness of their entire superego.

Superego lacunae has since been considerably expanded to include behaviors by individuals of any age. The essential idea is that there are problematic behaviors that are extremely inconsistent with a person’s overwhelmingly strong senses of morality and appropriate behaviors. Such individuals are often considered pillars of society, admirable leaders, great friends and relatives, and appealing choices for spouses. Yet, they occasionally, intentionally, do things which are wildly different from all expectations. Their misdeeds are deliberate and not accidents. This course examines the theories behind the concept and explores various treatment considerations.

Course #11-46 | 2022 | 18 pages | 10 posttest questions

Learning Objectives

1. Name the fundamental characteristics of the phenomenon of superego lacunae
2. Identify the prevailing psychodynamic theoretical explanations for the development of superego lacunae
3. List presumptive causes of superego lacunae from the perspective of behavioral theory
4. Identify three issues to be brought into play in considering treatment of superego lacunae

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Psychology and the Office of School Psychology and is CE Broker compliant (#50-1635 - all courses are reported within two business days of completion). Professional Development Resources, Inc. is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists (#PSY-0145).


This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of this course involves passing an online test (80% required, 3 chances to take) and we ask that you also complete a brief course evaluation. Click here to learn more.

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About the Author(s)

Louis R. Franzini, PhD, received his B.S. degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, his M.A. degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Toledo, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. He then completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Behavior Modification at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (now Stony Brook University). Following the postdoctoral program Dr. Franzini joined the Psychology Department at San Diego State University, where he spent his entire academic career. He retired as Emeritus Professor of Psychology. His international academic experience included appointments as Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Universite Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-le-Neuve, Belgium and Senior Fellow in the School of Accountancy and Business, Human Resource and Quality Management Division at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Dr. Franzini is licensed as a psychologist in Florida and in California.

Financial: Dr. Franzini receives royalties on his books from John Wiley & Sons, Rowman and Littlefield, Square One Publishers, Sage Publications and from Professional Development Resources on sales of his courses.
: No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists. 

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