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Greenberg, D.E. (2016). A review of Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation: by Daniel Shaw. New York, NY: Routledge, 2014. 192 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 52(1):130-143.

(2016). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 52(1):130-143

Book Reviews

A review of Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation: by Daniel Shaw. New York, NY: Routledge, 2014. 192 pp.

Daniel E. Greenberg, Ph.D.

Daniel Shaw's Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation is an important moment in an ongoing process through which the American psychoanalytic movement is coming to grips with an ambiguous and often regressive political legacy. Shaw wants psychoanalysis to reclaim for itself a voice in the important social and political issues of our day and to once again add its voice to the struggle for social justice. Starting with a compelling account of how relational psychoanalysis can help give voice to those who have been victimized by relational trauma in childhood, Shaw quickly extends his reach to those who are victimized by systems of exploitation that operate in groups (including psychoanalytic institutes) and in the broader social, political, and economic surround.

Shaw leverages relational theory in a sophisticated and compelling argument aimed to uncover the psychological effects of the exploitation and abuse of subjectivity itself. Jessica Benjamin's fundamental work on mutual recognition versus complementarity plays a crucial role in these efforts. According to Shaw, the fundamental narcissistic dynamic we should attend to is not captured in a theoretical contrast between healthy and pathological narcissism. Rather, Shaw proposes a fundamental distinction between traumatizing and traumatized narcissists. Traumatizing narcissists are sadistic and/or sociopathic and their interpersonal dynamics are characterized by a striking incapacity to tolerate a subjectively authentic voice in those around them.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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