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Rendon, M. (1981). Narcissus Revisited: A Venture Outside of the Intrapsychic. Am. J. Psychoanal., 41(4):347-354.

(1981). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 41(4):347-354

Narcissus Revisited: A Venture Outside of the Intrapsychic

Mario Rendon, M.D.

The different psychoanalytic views on narcissism can be grouped around one polar issue-whether self-esteem is linked to narcissistic libido or primarily derivative of the complex interactions of the child with significant others. Curiously, Freud's earliest formulation, with his theory of seduction, stressed the second alternative. Unfortunately, he took seduction in a very concrete way and therefore had to shift radically to a theory based on the first alternative, the preeminence of inner drive states. I believe that the seduction stories of Freud's patients could have been understood as metaphors describing subject-object relationships. Freud's shift to a theory of narcissistic libido was unfortunate in its effects, although intelligible in the light of ideological pressures which would give prominence to the individual over relationships.

The text that follows will present a view which stresses, perhaps, the second of the two alternatives but goes beyond dyad and family. In brief, it shows that narcissism is determined by the larger, molar-as opposed to molecular-social relationships. They are basically the types of relationships inherent in a socioeconomic formation, capitalism, and its predominant ideology of individualism. Only a dialectical view of the inside-outside relationship, or the subject-object relationship, can overcome the simplistic views which have plagued not only analysts now, but philosophers for centuries.

In his book The Fall of Public Man, Sennett writes:

There is a rough parallel between the crisis of Roman society after the death of Augustus and present day life; it concerns the balance between public and private life…. As the Augustan age faded … (the Roman citizen) sought in private a new focus for his emotional energies, a new principle of commitment and belief.

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