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Yachnes, E. (1975). Neurotic Pride. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(1):27-32.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(1):27-32

Neurotic Pride

Eleanor Yachnes, M.D.

Tyrannical “shoulds” say, “I should be great.” Neurotic pride says, “I am great.” In neurotic pride, the idealized image is felt as if it exists. The idealized image is actualized in the imagination. In the supremacy of the mind, the person is his idealized image.

Neurotic pride is a plastic substitute for real self-confidence. It is an ersatz article, a poor copy. It is generally shoddy in serving its functions of minimizing anxiety and providing a sense of identity, strength, unity, and values, but it does serve; sometimes it is better, and sometimes it fails. When it fails, there are various methods of bolstering it up, or there may be a flip to its joined twin, self-hatred. The person who settles for neurotic pride in an image that is unconsciously false, lives almost constantly under a cloud of tension, self-protection, protesting too much, in fear of exposure to himself or outsiders, and constantly needs to add more layers of false beliefs and behaviors which further alienate him from his real self or from possibilities of healthier development.

Instead of real self-confidence, the neurotic has a very vulnerable pseudoconfidence. This oversensitivity is illustrated by a stock situation, a familiar sequence. A person comments in response to another, “That's not so!” The other says, “Are you calling me a liar? You're a liar, and so is everyone in your family.” His pride in his rightness and honesty is very easily shaken and, once shaken, gives rise to vindictive retaliation.

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