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Solan, R. (1999). The Interaction between Self and Others: A Different Perspective on Narcissism. Psychoanal. St. Child, 54:193-215.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 54:193-215

The Interaction between Self and Others: A Different Perspective on Narcissism

Ronnie Solan, Ph.D.

This paper explores a perspective that expands the scope of the “healthy” narcissistic function to include the narcissistic preservation of self-identities during interaction between self and others. After a brief review of the literature from Freud to current views on the subject, the author describes the mutual influence of narcissistic processing and object relation and goes on to theorize that self-preservation is accomplished by the narcissistic envelope through immunization and defensive processing. Narcissistic immune processing provides familiarity, cohesiveness, equilibrium, integrity, and continuity to the self's separateness in an affective state of stability, which may make the libidinal need for object relation and interrelation with the world possible without undermining the constancy and safety of the self. The defensive processing preserves the self from incohesiveness and vulnerability during exposure to the unfamiliar (by creating a false self-identity, withdrawing into a narcissistic state, or preventing new interactions). The theoretical implications of this argument and their practical application are illustrated by several clinical vignettes.

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