According to Wikipwdia:

Ectoderm is one of the three primary germ layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the mesoderm (middle layer) and endoderm (most proximal layer), with the ectoderm as the most exterior (or distal) layer. It emerges and originates from the outer layer of germ cells (link ).


Endoderm is one of the three primary germ layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm (outside layer) and mesoderm (middle layer), with the endoderm being the innermost layer (link ).

Given the above information, I think in the following text from the book Art and Psychoanalysis by Maria Walsh "Endoderm" and "Ectoderm" have been completely mixed up with each other. Am I right?


The skin ego or ego skin is the name Anzieu gives to this psychophysiological entity. In fact, Anzieu goes so far as to use the biological development of the embryo as a narrative of the ego’s development, and he gives much weight to how, at the gastrula stage, the skin takes the form of a sac through the invagination of one of its sides, thus forming the two layers necessary for existence outside the womb, the ectoderm and the endoderm. The endoderm’s surface becomes modified by constant exposure to the outside, to heat, cold, touch, forming a crust which becomes ‘baked through’ by stimulation to present favourable conditions for protection of the organism but which also retains its identity as a receptive surface for new stimuli. Novelist A.S. Byatt evocatively describes the sensation of the newly born baby as ‘skin for the first time on skin in the outside air which was warm’. The endoderm protects the body-psyche. The other face of the skin, the ectoderm, turns towards the inside of the body-psyche, where there is no shield from internal stimuli. To protect itself, the embryonic ego skin projects some of these stimuli outwards, at the same time as it receives traces of external perceptions that are filtered or communicated through the endoderm. At this early stage, the baby is mainly a passive receptor of stimuli unaware of the boundaries between its own and the mother’s body.

  • 1
    Seems par for the course for psychoanalysis, which is all pseudoscientific junk. Probably best to just discard the whole text. Jun 4 '20 at 16:02
  • Just looking at a dictionary tells me you're probably right that the author mixed the terms up and the proofreaders (if any) didn't catch it. But is that all you're asking?
    – Carey Gregory
    Jun 5 '20 at 4:00
  • Thank you, Yes, I just wondered maybe the author is talking about another biological aspect of these skin layers that I am not aware of.
    – user127733
    Jun 6 '20 at 6:18

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