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Goldberg, A. (1976). A Discussion of the Paper by C. Hanly and J. Masson on 'A Critical Examination of the New Narcissism'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 57:67-70.

(1976). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 57:67-70

A Discussion of the Paper by C. Hanly and J. Masson on 'A Critical Examination of the New Narcissism'

Arnold Goldberg

When two individuals with roughly similar neurophysiological equipment view the same thing or event and each sees it differently, it is not necessarily true that one is incompetent or even wrong; rather, it may be that they each observe with a different theory. In science, theories are guides or tools to direct our observations. No one can make an observation that is devoid of a guiding theory and no theory can stand without the empirical evidence to substantiate it. But all of our theories are hunches or intuitions that seem to make the most sense at that time. They are all wrong in that, hopefully, better ones lie ahead of us. Theories merely grope towards reality and never reach it. Theories never dictate facts; rather, they help us to understand them.

I say all this today because the paper just presented (Hanly & Masson, this issue) is somewhat of a puzzle. Parts of it raise profound and challenging questions; some of its assertions seem quite simple to answer and even to refute; however, in parts the authors seem to labour under some basic and major misconception about science and the work of scientists. Let me see if I can explain what I mean by a more detailed examination of the authors' main points.

Their first point concerns the independence of narcissistic and object libidinal lines of development: a fact which they dispute. Their example of the excited five-year-old girl shows the interdependence of narcissism and other developmental lines. I cannot imagine anyone arguing this point.

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