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Blandford, N. (1994). Individuation and Narcissism: the Psychology of Self in Jung and Kohut. By Mario Jacoby. Routledge. £12.99. Pp. ix + 267.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 8(2):193-194.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 8(2):193-194

Individuation and Narcissism: the Psychology of Self in Jung and Kohut. By Mario Jacoby. Routledge. £12.99. Pp. ix + 267.

Review by:
Nicola Blandford

This book, by an eminent Jungian, is a comparative study of different theoretical and therapeutic systems. Mario Jacoby's claim is that developments in Freudian psychoanalysis, and especially the work of Kohut and Winnicott, have led to a convergence with the Jungian position. Analytical psychologists, especially British ones, may not be very surprised to hear this.

The opening chapter looks at versions of the Narcissus myth, from Ovid onwards, and at ways in which the story has been used since classical times. Aspects of the myth are interpreted in Jungian terms, and themes which relate to narcissistic psychopathology are taken up.

Jacoby moves on to Freud's reformulation of instinct theory, and the development of his thinking in ‘On Narcissism’ (1914). Naturally, this brings us to the Freud/Jung split, the dispute over the concept of libido and questions about ‘introversion’ versus ‘narcissistic cathexis of the libido’. Balint's debate about primary love versus primary narcissism is brought in, leading to a comparison of ego and self theories in Jung's analytical psychology and psychotherapy.

For me, the meat of the book is in the later chapters, as Jacoby becomes more obviously clinical. He writes well on pathology, diagnosis, and the subjective experience of narcissistic woundedness. There is a marvellous passage defending grandiose fantasy. This follows a clear discrimination between the positions of Kernberg and Kohut on the subject of narcissistic grandiosity.

Jungian concepts like the negative mother complex and the archetype of the shadow are discussed in the context of narcissism and narcissistic rage. The central Jungian process of individuation is linked throughout with Kohut's thinking on the maturation of the personality and self-realisation.

As Jacoby gets into questions of treatment, there are examples form his practice. He writes engagingly on the analyst's narcissism and on issues of countertransference and different approaches to handling it. He links Kohut to Racker, Fordham, and Lambert here, and sensitively discusses how to manage the pitfalls of an idealising transference.


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