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Bergmann, M.V. (1980). On the Genesis of Narcissistic and Phobic Character Formation in an Adult Patient: A Developmental View. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 61:535-546.

(1980). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61:535-546

On the Genesis of Narcissistic and Phobic Character Formation in an Adult Patient: A Developmental View

Maria V. Bergmann


A case has been presented in which early maternal failures reconstructed from separation-individuation subphase developments revealed a narcissistic alliance between the child and her parents. This alliance stood in the way of separation and individuation processes and blocked the expression of hostility. Identifications with the phobic mother prevented the ego from developing a signal function for anxiety.

A maternal father, who in many ways counteracted the deficiencies of the mother, could only partially become the principal love object during the phallic and oedipal phases. A strong bisexual orientation prevented the full emergence of a feminine gender identity. Only after the narcissistic alliance emerged in transference and was given no gratification did phobic symptoms appear. The transference recapitulated a segment of the infantile neurosis in which phobiaproneness was held in check by the 'narcissistic alliance' between mother and daughter.

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