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Hall, J.M. (1984). Behind the Mask of the Persecutor: The Idealized Selfobject. Ann. Psychoanal., 12:239-263.

(1984). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 12:239-263

Behind the Mask of the Persecutor: The Idealized Selfobject

John M. Hall, M.D.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees

Is my destroyer

—Dylan Thomas


The patient whose case will be discussed below once said: “I remember an old college professor telling us that love and hate are very close. Well, I know for sure that love can turn to hate. But I don't think, I don't know, if hate can turn to love.” In its essence, this paper is about just such a transformation.

Kohut (1971) suggested that it would be valuable to general theoretical understanding to compare and contrast “the relatively healthy elaboration of a narcissistically cathected omnipotent and omniscient, admired and idealized, emotionally sustaining parent imago in the transferences formed by patients with narcissistic personality disturbances with the all-powerful persecutor and manipulator of the self in the psychoses: the influencing machine whose omnipotence and omniscience have become cold, unempathic, and non-humanly evil” (p. 8).

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