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(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: Narcissistic Object Choice in Women. Annie Reich. Pp. 22-44.. Psychoanal Q., 23:291-292.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: Narcissistic Object Choice in Women. Annie Reich. Pp. 22-44.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:291-292

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: Narcissistic Object Choice in Women. Annie Reich. Pp. 22-44.

Narcissistic object choice in women occurs when ego and ego ideal become identified and fused with the object. Gross pathology in the identification of ego and ego ideal will lead to pathology in narcissistic object choice and in object relationship. Pathology is more frequent when the object is identified with the ego ideal.

Two pathological types of narcissistic object choice are considered. The first appears clinically as an extreme, dependent subservience to one man; the second is represented by those women who have transitory dependent pseudo infatuations during which they take on the man's personality only to drop him after a short time for another man. This is the 'as if' personality. Although the two types

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appear to be quite opposite there are similarities; in both there is an exaggerated grandiose ego ideal which is quite unrealizable. The retention of such an ego ideal is indicative of faulty ego and superego development, and consequently of defective object relations. Both types use narcissistic object choice to overcome injury to self-esteem and the feeling of being castrated. The ego ideal may contain an unsublimated sexual feature which appears in analysis in the fantasy of becoming the paternal phallus and more primitively the maternal breast. The early level of fixation in both types leads to a predominant homosexuality.

The need for identification with the ego-ideal object in the first type of woman is often achieved by an orgastic flowing together with the man in sexual union, an 'oceanic feeling', and is the basis for the subservient relationship to the man. The masochistic elements are an overcompensation for aggressive feeling. In the 'as if' type the identifications are extremely superficial, not internalized. They are really transitory imitations; the ego operates at the level of the 'imitative gesture'. This type is to be regarded clinically as a 'borderline state'. The acute outbreak of such a state is more ominous than its continuous persistence. The identification may be the only available substitute for an inability to form object relationships. In this type the sudden demolition of the idealized object arises from aggression against the objects on whom the ego ideal is built. The patient's fusion with the object, however, leads to the concurrent self-devaluation and depressed mood.

Poor development of the superego results in dependence on public opinion or on third persons.

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Article Citation

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953. Psychoanal. Q., 23:291-292

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