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Bing, J.F. Marburg, R.O. (1962). Narcissism. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 10:593-605.

(1962). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 10:593-605


James F. Bing, M.D. and Rudolph O. Marburg, M.D.

After Maxwell Gitelson introduced the panel, Ludwig Eidelberg presented a paper "On Narcissistic Mortification." He defined normal narcissistic mortification as the emotional experience of an individual who is suddenly overcome by internal or external aggression. Under normal conditions the individual learns to surrender his infantile omnipotence and to face the more or less frightening limitations of his powers. Under traumatic conditions the narcissistic mortification is repressed, which prevents the individual from disillusioning himself of his omnipotence. Another narcissistic mortification may be used to keep the original one unconscious.

After describing narcissistic mortification in metapsychological terms, Eidelberg introduced some working definitions: (1) the concept that libido and destrudo are always active and may or may not always have a passive or active aim; (2) the human being may sometimes have to play a completely passive role. Without the latter considerations it would be impossible to understand the concept of external narcissistic mortification. Libido and destrudo appear in three different forms: primary narcissism, secondary narcissism, and object libido (destrudo). He illustrated the study of narcissistic mortification by an example, pointing out that the act of eating satisfies the object libido as well as the narcissistic libido. If eating cannot take place in the presence of hunger, both drives are dammed up. If this is due to external aggression, narcissistic mortification ensues, thus adding humiliation and helplessness to hunger. This then leads to a feeling of revenge in order to undo what has happened by actively repeating what has been passively experienced.

An increase in instinctual tension beyond a certain level gives rise to pain and the elimination of this tension gives rise to a feeling of gratification.

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