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Finell, J.S. (1985). Narcissistic Problems in Analysts. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:433-445.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:433-445

Narcissistic Problems in Analysts

Janet Schumacher Finell


Narcissistic problems in analysts reflect the same dynamics as they do in patients. Splitting, projection, denial, and ego fragmentation defend against the experiencing of painful affects. Idealization and grandiosity, aggression, power, and exhibitionism and their opposites are the essential issues in narcissism. Psychoanalytic work can be extremely gratifying to the analyst's narcissism, leaving little incentive to resolve it personally or in one's patients. Politics and other extra-analytic situations can become the repository of split-off hostile and devaluing feelings while the personal analyst remains idealized.

Narcissism in analysts is relatively unexplored in the vast literature on countertransference, indicating that it arouses shameful and secretive reactions. Case material illustrated the points made. The overall conclusion is that the problem is a difficult one, particularly when the transference involves symbiotic features and mutual gratification. Working through narcissism should be central in the analyst's personal analysis in order to foster high levels of ego integration, self development, and analytic ability.

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