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Orgel, S. (1977). A Form of Acting out in the Narcissistic Transference. Psychoanal Q., 46:684-685.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:684-685

A Form of Acting out in the Narcissistic Transference

Shelley Orgel, M.D.

In a session shortly before the summer vacation, a patient who had been in analysis for several years spoke in many different ways and on various levels of his fear of my cutting myself off from him. For instance, he saw me as his phallus and was afraid of feeling castrated; he saw me as a breast that was leaving him cold and hungry; he saw me as a need-satisfying object who was leaving him alone with his mounting, uncontrolled desires and his anxiety in the face of frustration. He also saw me as leaving him in order to punish him for his sexual acting out and because of my disappointment at his lack of progress. His anxiety intensified as I listened in silence to his recital. Finally, he said that he wanted me to say something.

I stated that he wanted me to say his next thought for him to confirm our oneness—as though we were two minds with one thought. He replied that his next thought had been, "I don't want anyone to come between us." He felt that the interfering person was female. "I've put five years into this," he said, "and I don't want anything or anyone to wreck the treatment."

I pointed out that this was what he wanted to believe I felt and that he wanted me to say exactly these words to him. He replied, "It's about time I understood this—how I need you to join with me to feel whole—not to be terrified of being alone."

The reason for reporting this interchange is to illustrate a particular technical problem imposed by the narcissistic aspect of the transference. Often, with this sort of patient, a premature relief from anxiety may be brought out by the analyst's entirely correct and seemingly appropriate comment.

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