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Bach, S. (1977). On the Narcissistic State of Consciousness. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 58:209-233.

(1977). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 58:209-233

On the Narcissistic State of Consciousness

Sheldon Bach

I

Our present ego-feeling is, therefore, only a shrunken residue of a much more inclusive—indeed, an allembracing—feeling which corresponded to a more intimate bond between the ego and the world about it. If we may assume that there are many people in whose mental life this primary ego-feeling has persisted to a greater or lesser degree, it would exist in them side by side with the narrower and more sharply demarcated ego-feeling of maturity, like a kind of counterpart to it. In that case, the ideational contents appropriate to it would be precisely those of limitlessness and of a bond with the universe … (Freud, 1930p. 68).

Analysts who work with narcissistic patients frequently complain of the difficulty they experience in 'getting through' to the patient and 'making themselves heard', or, with growing irritation, they speak of 'making a dent' in the patient or 'cracking the narcissistic shell'. They sometimes develop an intense feeling of frustration about the impermanence of even their effective interpretations and compare it with talking into the wind or writing on the sand, only to have one's words effaced moments later by the waves.

And indeed one of the characteristics of the narcissistic transference is that the patient either welcomes or resents the analyst's words, experiences them as an anodyne or as an intrusive, officious imposition, and frequently does not even register the actual content of what is said but rather reduces it to a jumble of words, sounds, noises or tones.

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