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Dodes, L.M. (1990). Addiction, Helplessness, and Narcissistic Rage. Psychoanal Q., 59:398-419.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:398-419

Addiction, Helplessness, and Narcissistic Rage

Lance M. Dodes, M.D.


In many cases addictive behavior serves to ward off a sense of helplessness or powerlessness via controlling and regulating one's affective state. Addicts have a vulnerability to feelings of powerlessness, which reflects a specific narcissistic impairment. The drive in addiction to re-establish a sense of power is, correspondingly, impelled by narcissistic rage. This rage gives to addiction some of its distinctive clinical properties. The narcissistic vulnerability in addicts is discussed. Several brief clinical cases are provided, and the view proposed is correlated with other psychoanalytic perspectives.

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