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De Saussure, J. (1971). Some Complications in Self-Esteem Regulation Caused by Using an Archaic Image of the Self as an Ideal. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 52:87-97.

(1971). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 52:87-97

Some Complications in Self-Esteem Regulation Caused by Using an Archaic Image of the Self as an Ideal

Janice De Saussure

In recent years there has been a growing tendency among psychoanalysts to expand and clarify concepts of narcissism. Whereas Freud originally linked it only to the psychoses, today a wide variety of disturbances are considered to be manifestations of narcissistic difficulties. In 1964 the Paris Psychoanalytic Society held a symposium on 'Narcissism' which admirably demonstrated the complexity and scope of theoretical and clinical problems encountered as psychoanalytic doctrine has developed. Both the papers and the discussions revealed significant differences of opinion and indicated increasing interest in defining narcissism more accurately and in exploring its relationship to the neuroses, the perversions, the character disorders, psychosomatic illnesses, etc. In the present paper it is my intention to restrict my discussion to certain aspects of the narcissistic problem of self-esteem regulation shown by some neurotic patients, leaving aside consideration of the more severe pathology found in psychotics.

Freud, in his paper 'On Narcissism' (1914), defined it essentially in economic terms as a quantitatively great investment of libido in the ego, involving a commensurate withholding or withdrawal of libido from the object. One of the most widely accepted variations of this concept was formulated by Hartmann who pointed out that 'the opposite of object cathexis is not ego cathexis, but cathexis of one's own person, that is self-cathexis' (Hartmann, 1950p. 84). He and subsequent writers further refined this concept by emphasizing that what is actually invested with libidinal or aggressive energy is a representation of the self or the object rather than the self or the object as such.

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