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The Author Section is a useful way to review an author’s works published in PEP-Web. It is ordered alphabetically by the Author’s surname. After clicking the matching letter, search for the author’s full name.

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Gilman, S.L. (1992). Narcissism: Socrates, the Frankfurt School, and Psychoanalytic Theory: By C. Fred Alford. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, 1988, 242 pp., $28.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:911-913.
    

(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:911-913

Narcissism: Socrates, the Frankfurt School, and Psychoanalytic Theory: By C. Fred Alford. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, 1988, 242 pp., $28.00.

Review by:
Sander L. Gilman

I opened this volume with many of the expectations of the reader of that apocryphal tale "Lincoln's Doctor's Dog"—the ultimate story, with something in it for every possible reader. I put the volume down quite impressed with the intelligence and erudition of C. Fred Alford, who teaches political science at the University of Maryland, but troubled by the very strength of his multifaceted approach.

Alford's thesis is straightforward. When he uses the term "narcissism," it is with a heightened degree of self-irony. For him narcissism is neither pathological nor is it even negative. He is a follower of Christopher Lasch, who sees in the "culture of narcissism" the inherent conflict of "modern" civilization: "the key feature of the culture of narcissism is not selfishness or self-love, but the way in which this culture threatens the coherence of the self" (p. 5).

Alford's approach is thus to examine a series of the philosophers of narcissism to see how they treat the relationship between the individual and society as seen through the matrix of narcissism. He shows how "the coherence of the self" is defined and how it serves as the (or one of the) mainstays to the philosophical systems he examines.

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