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McWilliams, N. Lependorf, S. (1990). Narcissistic Pathology of Everyday Life:—The Denial of Remorse and Gratitude. Contemp. Psychoanal., 26:430-451.

(1990). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26:430-451

Narcissistic Pathology of Everyday Life:—The Denial of Remorse and Gratitude

Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D. and Stanley Lependorf, Ph.D.

THIS ESSAY ATTEMPTS A phenomenological study of ordinary, day-to-day manifestations of narcissistic dynamics. Despite the importance to psychoanalysis of Freud's careful explication of everyday-life evidence of unconscious defensive processes (1901), analysts have naturally tended to give greater attention to more obvious and serious psychopathologies, the kinds for which people come to them for help. We propose in this article to revive the Freudian tradition of scrutinizing what is ostensibly mundane and commonplace, addressing those aspects of narcissistic pathology in ourselves and others that invade daily life, in both the personal and professional spheres, often rendering it less gratifying, more bewildering, and lonelier than it might be.

We assume that the reader brings to this essay some basic familiarity with psychoanalytic ideas about the narcissistic conditions. We do not intend to take a position on the etiology of narcissistic disorders, or to offer a particular technical stance for their treatment, or to lament, in the tradition of Lasch's work (e.g., 1978), the seeming increase in narcissistic phenomena in our culture as a whole. Instead, we shall start with the premise that the organizing task of the various narcissistic defenses is the preservation of what


The authors gratefully acknowledge the influence on this article of Miriam T. Winterbottom

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