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Hinshelwood, B. (1993). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 10(2):133-135.

(1993). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 10(2):133-135


Bob Hinshelwood

Frank Lachman introduces us to self-psychology - those of us in Britain who have been slow to pick up on what has been developing in the United States. It is a ‘new’ theory of narcissism, a personality characteristic which, in psycho-analysis, has often had a bad press. The nurturing of the self - and even by the self - was given a radical change of priority by Kohut. Lachman in an admirably clear presentation has outlined Kohut's challenge to the view that the more narcissistic the self the less object-related it can be. Instead, it is actually from a secure narcissism or security of the sense of self (what is sometimes called positive narcissism) that the ability to form object-relations stems. In a very contrasting vein, one that represents the source of a much more recognisably British view of narcissism, Kenneth Sanders describes the same sense of well-being in terms of internal objects; and develops the point that a rich sense of self can become the fulcrum of a conflict. He employs the notion of a kind of ‘negative narcissism’ which continually threatens the internal sense of well-being.

Clearly British analysts and therapists have grown up in a different professional, social, ideological climate from American ones. Our views of the nature of human beings have taken radically divergent paths - in a sense, Epicurean versus Manichean. How this has come about would be a fascinating study in cultural history; but that it exists is the important fact

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