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The Information icon (an i in a circle) will give you valuable information about PEP Web data and features. You can find it besides a PEP Web feature and the author’s name in every journal article. Simply move the mouse pointer over the icon and click on it for the information to appear.

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Stiffell, G. Holtom, R. (2016). Beware the Song of the Sirens: Reflections on the Seductive Face of Narcissism. Brit. J. Psychother., 32(1):37-52.

(2016). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 32(1):37-52

Beware the Song of the Sirens: Reflections on the Seductive Face of Narcissism

Gilly Stiffell, M.A. and Ralph Holtom, Ph.D.

This paper is about narcissism and particularly about the paradoxical way in which some narcissists use objects. In the classical perception of narcissism total disregard is shown for others with the narcissist taking himself or his own reflection as his only object, yet we also encounter the obverse position where the narcissist seems to be seeking relatedness by making seductive efforts to attract others into collusion with their needs. This has not been widely discussed but we believe it represents a major division of narcissism with the classical disregard of others being replaced by a seductive drive for their subversion. This strategy is represented by the myth of the sirens who by the beauty of their song lured sailors to forget their own lives and ultimately fall to their destruction. We consider the sirens’ song and how the nature of its seductive lure is shaped by the therapist's own enactment in the countertransference. Previously narcissistic presentations have been thought of as movement along an axis of more or less grandiosity but we now propose that this concept is best broadened into a two-dimensional space where the second axis defines the degree of seduction employed.

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