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Ivimey, M. (1951). The Narcissistic Type in Psychoanalysis. Am. J. Psychoanal., 11(1):13-20.

(1951). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 11(1):13-20

The Narcissistic Type in Psychoanalysis

Muriel Ivimey, M.D.

For a long time there has been a dictum in psychoanalysis that individuals with strong narcissistic traits are difficult to analyze, that treatment is likely to be unsuccessful, and that such individuals may even be unanalyzable. I have chosen to discuss narcissism because it is desirable to review the progress that has been made in understanding this phenomenon since we have abandoned Freud's instinctivistic libido theories. Radical changes in the theory of neurosis, plus the widened scope of our observations and a new understanding of the nature and dynamics of therapeutic changes have radically modified this pessimistic attitude toward the treatment of strongly narcissistic persons.

According to orthodox psychoanalysis, the crucial problem in treatment was the patient's attitude toward himself. Narcissism was considered a state of being in love with oneself. Since the individual was so tenaciously in love with himself, he was unable to love others or to develop a sufficiently strong transference to the analyst. Since successful treatment depended on positive transference, therapeutic analysis was blocked. This train of problems was considered insoluble.

To say what love means, in terms of libido theories, calls for something like a semantic revolution. Starting with the basic premises concerning the nature of man, the meaning of nearly every concept pertaining to human feelings and interests becomes dislocated. Libido thinking called for different meanings. Ideas became immobilized in a sense which did not consider the existence of anything but neurotic or pathological significance, and which ignored normal, healthy feelings and interests.

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