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Kapp, R.O. (1925). Sensation and Narcissism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 6:292-299.
   

(1925). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 6:292-299

Sensation and Narcissism

Reginald O. Kapp

A great deal has lately been achieved by Abraham and others in tracing out step by step the successive stages reached by the child in its libido-development and showing the manifold relationships between these libido-positions and traits of character in the adult. The elucidation of character-formation has thus been worked out with convincing clarity and a solid and detailed structure of knowledge built up.

In view of this achievement one is tempted to view the structure from another angle, to attempt to trace the compatibility of this part of psycho-analytic investigation with the points reached by other investigators and to speculate on the paths along which further progress is most likely to be reached.

When considering the factors influencing the development of character the question is very near: 'What factors cause one libido-position to be given up in favour of the next?'

As an example, we may consider the passage from the early to the late anal stage. In the early stage the gratifications of the child consist largely in the stimulation of the mucous membrane of the anus, in the agreeable warmth and softness of the mass of fæces against the skin, and in the stimulation of the mucous membrane of the nose by smell. Under external influences the child is caused to regulate the first of these, to give up the second entirely, and to give up the third almost entirely. Now these gratifications are all sensational. In the later anal stage almost the only new sensational gratification is such sensation as there may be in the sphincter muscles. A poor substitute! It is against the pleasure-principle to assume that a libido-position can be given up without a complete substitute. We must believe that in the growing and developing child more and not less quantities of libido have to be accounted for at each stage. Therefore in the later anal stage other non-sensational outlets for the libido must be found. One outlet, as is well known, is found in external objects. The child is somewhat compensated for its lack of sensational gratification when it obtains its parents' approval for being good and clean, for doing its duty.

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