Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To access the PEP-Web Facebook pageā€¦

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

PEP-Web has a Facebook page! You can access it by clicking here.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Balint, M. (1960). Primary Narcissism and Primary Love. Psychoanal Q., 29:6-43.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:6-43

Primary Narcissism and Primary Love

Michael Balint, M.D.


1. Freud proposed three theories of the individual's most primitive relationship with his environment: primary object relationship, primary autoerotism, and primary narcissism. 2. He attempted a synthesis of these three theories in favor of primary narcissism. Autoerotism was described as the satisfaction characteristic of the phase of primary narcissism, while any type of object relationship was considered secondary. This theoretical construction contains several inherent contradictions, none of them acknowledged by Freud. In recent years they were pointed out in particular by Hartmann, Kris, and Loewenstein, who also proposed a new terminology which, though solving some of the old problems, seems to create new ones. 3. Re-examining the arguments used by Freud, and after him by the analytic literature, to make the existence of primary narcissism acceptable, it is found that they prove only the existence of secondary narcissism. The only two exceptions which could not be explained purely on the basis of secondary narcissism were the regressive states in schizophrenia and during sleep, but even in these two cases it appears that the regression is to a primitive form of relationship rather than to primary narcissism. 4. Since clinical observations seemed unable to provide a safe basis for the acceptance

of the theory of primary narcissism, analytic theory resorted to antedating it to the period of foetal life. A close scrutiny of the available data suggests that the theory of primary narcissism, although compatible with, does not follow necessarily from these observations. A theory of primary love is proposed which seems to accord better with the observed facts. 5. Using this theory a number of clinical observations can be better understood and integrated with each other to form a suggestive argument for its validity. These observations include experience with schizophrenics, with alcoholics, with narcissistic patients, and the various modifications of technique proposed by several authors to enable the patient to establish a therapeutically effective relationship in the analytic situation. 6. Lastly, the examination of man's erotic life provides some further support for the theory of primary love.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.