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Lax, R.F. (1989). The Narcissistic Investment in Pathological Character Traits and the Narcissistic Depression: Some Implications for Treatment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 70:81-90.

(1989). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 70:81-90

The Narcissistic Investment in Pathological Character Traits and the Narcissistic Depression: Some Implications for Treatment

Ruth F. Lax


The developmental history of pathological traits and constellations, specifically their origin in the context of the parent-child relationship, their initially adaptive nature derived from parental valuations as well as the role of identification with the aggressor, has been described. The narcissistic investment of these traits is accounted for by these factors.

With character neurotics, in the first phase of treatment, the analysis of contradictions brings about a state of psychic disequilibrium. The patient, in this process, experiences a loss of self-esteem. This is related to the discovery of the nature of his unconscious motivations, to the painful awareness of his limitations, and the recognition that participation in parental omnipotence is an illusion. These insights result in a temporary narcissistic depression.

Intrapsychic separation from the pathogenic introject, combined with the internalization of the analytic attitudes of empathy and tolerance, leads to the modulation of the pathological ego ideal.

Mourning, which accompanies the renunciation of one's fantasied grandiose self, eventuates in the development, by the patient, of a capacity of empathy with himself and the formation of a more mature and realistic wishful self-image.

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