Abstract: The author investigates the question whether narcissism is still a useful clinical concept. The term is so widespread and often so loosely used that it seems to have lost its descriptive and discriminatory power. The descriptive use of the term in our everyday discussions of patients has evolved into a kind of behavioural shorthand (Goldberg, 2013). Departing from two case vignettes narcissism is being discussed from the vantage point of symptomatology, psychodynamics and normal narcissistic phenomena. Certain characteristic psychodynamic traits can be discerned in narcissistic personalities, but a specific common aetiology cannot yet be stated. At the core, however, of pathological narcissism are always severely disturbed early object relations. The author puts special emphasis on normal narcissism as part of the human condition. A rational and not abundant use of the concept of narcissism has still its place in psychoanalytic practice, theory and nosology. In group constellations, as for example in psychoanalytic institutions, the destructive potential of pathological narcissism has always to be considered.
Rom J Psychoanal 2017, 10 (2):19-34
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