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Schmukler, A.G. (1990). American Imago. XLV, 1988: The "Confessions" of Augustine: Narcissistic Elements. William R. Beers. Pp. 107-125.. Psychoanal Q., 59:515-516.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XLV, 1988: The "Confessions" of Augustine: Narcissistic Elements. William R. Beers. Pp. 107-125.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:515-516

American Imago. XLV, 1988: The "Confessions" of Augustine: Narcissistic Elements. William R. Beers. Pp. 107-125.

Anita G. Schmukler

The author takes the position that Augustine's childhood and adolescent lying, stealing, and sexual promiscuity reflected injuries to his sense of self and his idealized

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image of his parents, particularly his mother. Beers feels that this is better explained by Kohut's concepts of narcissism than by Freud's theories. Augustine was beaten severely when he failed to master Greek at the rate expected by his earliest formal mentors. His parents laughed mockingly at the physical evidence of this, and he found no immediate comfort in God. His antisocial behavior is understood as his warding off vulnerability by engaging in "exhibitionistic grandiosity." Two years after his father's death, nineteen-year-old Augustine joined the Manichaeans, and he achieved a status which would enable him to set free divine substances by eating fruit. Augustine's depressed, narcissistic mother, who viewed her son as an extension of herself, despised Augustine's newly acquired religious detachment. Ambrose, an idealized father imago with whom Augustine became infatuated, led his friend to Christianity. Beers feels there were split-off elements of Augustine's narcissism which never became integrated adequately. The failure to establish a cohesive self may explain some of Augustine's modes of religious expression.

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Article Citation

Schmukler, A.G. (1990). American Imago. XLV, 1988. Psychoanal. Q., 59:515-516

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