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Witenberg, E.G. (1974). Some Notes on Narcissism. Contemp. Psychoanal., 10:465-468.

(1974). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 10:465-468

Some Notes on Narcissism

Earl G. Witenberg, M.D.

DAVID RAPPAPORT ONCE REMARKED during a workshop at the White Institute, circa 1954, that "We shouldn't kill each other over our theories." It used to be commonplace that psychoanalytic writers would describe man in terms of the arc-reflex model, the topographic model or the economic. Today it is more usual for therapists to introduce a fourth model — one in which real interpersonal experience of the person is considered as well as the fantasy. Those of us who remember the days when ego-psychology came to the fore remember the violence we felt that had been done to the libido theory. Today certain distinguished ego psychologists call for an end to the theory of the drive. The fact is that the use of an old internally consistent theory, useful in its own right, as a foundation for introducing concepts which are not derived from it confuses, confounds and ultimately diminishes it. In this way, seeing "new" in terms of the "old" restricts our perceptions. A theory should bring together a mass of seemingly unrelated data into a comprehensible whole so that there is clarification and direction for setting up testable hypotheses. "Energy distribution" which some speak of is unclear to me in these "new conglomerate" theories.

"Libido" is used the same way. Libido and "aggression" are used as metaphors for "good" and "bad."

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