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Hamilton, J.W. (1978). Some Remarks on Certain Vicissitudes of Narcissism. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 5:275-284.

(1978). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 5:275-284

Some Remarks on Certain Vicissitudes of Narcissism

James W. Hamilton

In recent years much attention has been devoted to various metapsychological and clinical aspects of narcissism. As a result, two main schools of thought have evolved, each with its own unique concepts. In this paper an effort will be made to deal with one central question about which there is considerable disagreement between the two, namely whether or not narcissism constitutes an 'independent' line of development from that of the object-instinctual. Such an inquiry must of necessity focus upon the role of aggression in human behaviour.

Kernberg (1975), in his theoretical approach, feels that envy and oral sadistic rage are crucial determinants in the narcissistic character disturbances whose defensive organization is 'strikingly similar' to that of borderline personalities, differing only 'in a particular way' in terms of the reliance upon such primitive mechanisms as splitting, denial, projective identification, pathological idealization and omnipotence.

However, Kohut (1971) makes a clear distinction between narcissistic and borderline conditions, and stresses that narcissism pursues its own divergent path of maturation which is its most important characteristic: 'the antithesis to narcissism is not the object relation but object love'. (Kohut, 1966). He posits discreet intrapsychic structures, the grandiose self and the idealized parental imago, each of which must undergo certain essential transformations from their original state in infancy before the consolidation of a healthy narcissism can occur along with reasonable and meaningful ambitions and ideals.

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