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Freeman, T. (1963). The Concept of Narcissism in Schizophrenic States. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:293-303.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:293-303

The Concept of Narcissism in Schizophrenic States

Thomas Freeman

The concept of narcissism is fundamental to psycho-analytic theories which set out to explain the appearance of schizophrenic manifestations. Freud (1911), (1914) suggested that partial or complete libidinal withdrawal (decathexis of the object world and the corresponding mental representations) is followed by a libidinal regression to a narcissistic phase. This regression may be continued to a primitive (pathological) auto-erotic stage. He pointed out that the mixture of symptoms so frequently encountered (paranoid and hallucinatory experiences) was probably due to reactions (restitutional trends) to the narcissistic and auto-erotic regression.

The theory of narcissistic regression has proved of extreme value in enabling the clinician to relate a number of clinical phenomena which occur in almost every schizophrenic illness. The concept has thus had a unifying and integrating influence. Delusions of grandeur, magic thinking (omnipotence of thought), certain forms of auditory and visual hallucination, alterations in body awareness, withdrawal of the interest in the world and complete self-preoccupation can all be understood as the result of a regression to a narcissistic phase. Other data—e.g. delusions with persecutory content—can be regarded as reactions to this regression.

Some modification of Freud's original hypothesis has been necessary in the light of the changes which have taken place in the sphere of instinct theory. Today reference is made to the deneutralization of aggression and sexual drives which occurs simultaneously with the narcissistic regression.

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