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Celani, D.P. (2014). A Fairbairnian Structural Analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Psychoanal. Rev., 101(3):385-409.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Review, 101(3):385-409

A Fairbairnian Structural Analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder

David P. Celani, Ph.D.

Fairbairn's structural theory is based on the developing child's need to dissociate actual events between himself or herself and his or her objects that are excessively rejecting in order to contine an uninterrupted, pristine attachment to them. This eventuates in three selves in relation to three objects: One pair is conscious (the central ego which relates to the ideal object), while the other two pairs (the antilibidinal ego, which relates to the rejecting object, and the libidinal ego, which relates to the exciting object) are mostly held in the unconscious. Fairbairn saw the fluid relationship between the two split-off pairs of unconscious part selves and the conscious central ego as the primary dynamic of the human personality. The author proposes a specific variation in Fairbairn's structural theory to account for the development of narcissism. Specifically, this disorder is viewed as the result of a developmental history in which the child finds himself or herself in an exceedingly hostile interpersonal environment that precludes the child from using an idealized version either of his or her parental objects as the “exciting object.” The child therefore substitutes a grandiose view of himself or herself as the exciting object. This defense deflects external influences and replaces relationships with external objects with a closed internal world that is comprised of an admiring part-self basking in reflected love from its relationship with an exciting part-object.

[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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