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Khan, M.R. (1982). The Narcissistic Pursuit of Perfection: By Arnold Rothstein. New York: International Universities Press. 1980. Pp. 287.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 9:248-249.

(1982). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 9:248-249

The Narcissistic Pursuit of Perfection: By Arnold Rothstein. New York: International Universities Press. 1980. Pp. 287.

Review by:
M. Masud R. Khan

Arnold Rothstein has written what could have been an intriguing book on a difficult concept: that of narcissism, which is much bandied about, but rarely discussed with any metapsychological rigour, as Heinz Hartmann rightly pointed out. (Cited by the author.) Rothstein's hypothesis is clearly stated as: 'a definition of the terms narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder, within a proposed classification of narcissism in the "character" of the ego … man grapples to reconcile wishes for self-involved and object-related pleasures.' Rothstein has a certain passion for 'words', which both helps and hinders him. It is, indeed, very telling to have titled the book The Narcissistic Pursuit of Perfection. Yet the use of such a clumsy word as 'Entitlement' (Chapter 3) to serve as a concept is regrettable. The Oxford English Dictionary has this entry:

Entitlment: (no 'e' here). obs.rare. A temporary covering; an awning.

This certainly is not where Rothstein takes the word from. In Webster's Third New International Dictionary, one reads:

Entitlement. n. –.2a: the condition of being entitled: RIGHT; specf: the right to benefits under state unemployment-compensation laws or federal old-age and survivors insurance.

It is certainly in the latter spelling and sense of the word that Rothstein uses it, since he postulates: 'The entitled subject feels he should get what he wants. Those who do not feel free to coerce the world to respond to their inner precepts are depressed when they are frustrated. These subjects are narcissistic personality disorders with a neurotic integration of their sense of entitlement.'

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