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Goldberg, S.G. (2016). The two Bernard Berenson Cousins: The Interplay among Immigration, Culture, and Narcissism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(6):1627-1655.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(6):1627-1655

Interdisciplinary Studies

The two Bernard Berenson Cousins: The Interplay among Immigration, Culture, and Narcissism

Susan G. Goldberg

(Accepted for publication 16 August 2016)

The lives of two 19th century cousins, both of whom changed their names to Bernard Berenson, are considered from historical and psychodynamic perspectives, using a psychobiographical method. The Jewish cousins immigrated separately to Boston from Lithuania in 1875 and 1882. One cousin, later calling himself simply B.B., became a world-renowned art historian. The other Bernard became a misanthrope after feeling deeply humiliated by his cousin's family in Boston. Many biographies were written about the famous B.B. The only histories of his cousin Bernard were family stories, as he was the author's great-grandfather. The intersecting lives of these cousins are discussed. Both men faced the challenges of immigration as well as intense anti-Semitism and prejudice in each country in which they lived. These cultural and historical conditions interacted with the cousins' narcissistic vulnerabilities. Their lives demonstrate different manifestations of narcissistic suffering, with B.B's being more consistent with the construct of a “grandiose narcissist” and Bernard's being more consistent with that of a “closet narcissist.” The life stories of these two cousins with the same name offers an intriguing instance of a complicated relationship among immigration, prejudice, and narcissism and case examples of the manifestation of how narcissistic suffering can influence lives.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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