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Egan, J. Kernberg, P.F. (1984). Pathological Narcissism in Childhood. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 32:39-62.

(1984). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 32:39-62

Pathological Narcissism in Childhood

James Egan, M.D. and Paulina F. Kernberg, M.D.


Matt's analysis yields a number of theoretical and clinical implications. It demonstrates that narcissistic character pathology can exist in childhood and shows how family dynamics may contribute. The clearly defensive function of Matt's pathology and his later progress through normal infantile narcissism toward further development suggest that the pathogenesis of narcissistic pathology resides neither in regression to an infantile position nor in untamed infantile narcissism. Rather, as the case demonstrates, narcissistic pathology actually reflects a pathological formation of the self used for defensive purposes. Matt's analysis also shows how such pathology in children may be effectively resolved through interpretation. Finally, the analysis demonstrates the peculiarities of the countertransference in such cases and how they may be pivotal in the course of treatment.

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