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Schwaber, E.A. (1981). Narcissism, Self Psychology, and the Listening Perspective. Ann. Psychoanal., 9:115-131.

(1981). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 9:115-131

Narcissism, Self Psychology, and the Listening Perspective

Evelyne A. Schwaber, M.D.

In the continuing evolution of psychoanalytic theory, the focus of interest has moved increasingly toward a deepening consideration of the vicissitudes of narcissism. Present efforts extend to a formulation of a depth psychology of the “self,” and a delineation of its place within the matrix of analytic theory. There has been some debate as to whether these efforts are prompted by a change in our theoretical perspective or in our patient population. Certainly, to remain viable, any theory must be able to change and grow—within its own inherent pathway—but this very process will also reflect the broader scientific and cultural outlook. Thus, I believe that sociohistorical, political, and scientific shifts, profoundly influencing the way of thinking and experiencing of both our patients and ourselves, will, by necessity, interdigitate with psychoanalytic trends.

The artist or writer is often the first to herald these changes; the character prototype already exists in the arts before we see him in our office. What we read about in psychoanalytic writings is a product of the already ongoing historical moment. This has been particularly apparent in the women's movement, which has opened new vistas for rethinking analytic understanding of female development—a new kind of woman, a new view of feminine psychology.

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