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Brenman, E. (1981). Narcissism. Psychoanalytic Essays: By Béla Grunberger. International Universities Press, 1979. Pp. 311.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 62:127-128.

(1981). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 62:127-128

Narcissism. Psychoanalytic Essays: By Béla Grunberger. International Universities Press, 1979. Pp. 311.

Review by:
Eric Brenman

This book explores the issue of narcissism extensively and provides a wide range of understanding, which enables the reader to view the narcissistic process in relation to the whole domain of psychoanalysis. The author shows the continuous conflict between narcissism and libidinal object relationships from birth onwards, and views maturation as the outcome of the integration in this struggle.

Grunberger brings together narcissism as a force in its own right, and narcissism as a defence. He relates narcissism to Freud's instinct theory, the Oedipus complex, guilt, the superego, orality, anality, cruelty as well as to cultural factors that influence the psychological development of man.

The author explores the universality of narcissism, and the compromise between narcissism and object relations in a detailed way. He puts forward the view that the mastery of each developmental stage and the establishment of gratification in the real world modifies the narcissistic process. He lays stress on the problem of giving up narcissistic fusion leading to dependency on objects and, if I read him correctly, he states that the breakdown of libidinal object relationships causes a regression to narcissism. The interrelationship of these two processes is, in my view, the strength of this book, which helps the reader to avoid falling into the trap of taking one theoretical viewpoint at the expense of another, and enables one to widen one's appreciation of the problem.

Grunberger stresses as fundamental in his thesis, the longing for prenatal existence.

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