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Hamilton, J.W. (1981). Implications for Current Concepts of Narcissism in Heinrich Von Kleist's 'Michael Kohlhaas'. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 8:81-84.

(1981). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 8:81-84

Implications for Current Concepts of Narcissism in Heinrich Von Kleist's 'Michael Kohlhaas'

James W. Hamilton


This paper is a further attempt to examine Kohut's hypothesis that there exists a separate line of development for narcissism. Heinrich von Kleist's novella Michael Kohlhaas, which Kohut has selected as a prime example of vengefulness mobilized by narcissistic injury, is reviewed in detail to demonstrate that the genetic roots of this form of behaviour as described by Kleist can be traced to unresolved oral conflicts, the primitive rage of which is acted out in the form of arson and symbolic attacks upon the breast. These findings together with others from a previous study suggest that narcissism does not pursue its own maturational course.

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