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Eisnitz, A.J. (1974). On the Metapsychology of Narcissistic Pathology. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 22:279-291.

(1974). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22:279-291

On the Metapsychology of Narcissistic Pathology

Alan J. Eisnitz, M.D.

IN AN EARLIER PAPER (Eisnitz, 1969) I proposed a modification of Freud's (1914) classification of object choice. I suggested that narcissistic object choice be defined as that wherein the major cathexis is directed to the self representation, and attachment object choice as that wherein the major cathexis is directed to the object representation. In this formulation, the emphasis is placed on the intrapsychic cathexes and representations. Most object choices can then be seen to represent a mixture of both types, although, typically, one or the other element is predominant.

The current presentation follows from these earlier considerations and uses the concept of the self representation (Jacobson, 1964) as its frame of reference. Several major advantages seem to result from this approach, some with considerable therapeutic importance. First, the significance of intrapsychic cathectic shifts is underscored, allowing a clearer view and appreciation of the internal instability and flux that exists with narcissistic conflict. In particular, this approach emphasizes the role of internally directed aggression. Second, object choice is seen to develop along both narcissistic and attachment paths. Narcissistic object choice and attachment object choice are most typically intertwined developmentally and at any given moment in the history of an object relationship. Whereas at any one time either the narcissistic or the attachment elements may predominate, attempts to separate them completely either in therapy or in theory are artificial.

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