Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
:
Login
Tip: To sort articles by author…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

While performing a search, you can sort the articles by Author in the Search section. This will rearrange the results of your search alphabetically according to the author’s surname. This feature is useful to quickly locate the work of a specific author.

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

Satow, R. (1982). Response to Colleen Clements's “Misusing Psychiatric Models: the Culture of Narcissism”. Psychoanal. Rev., 69(2):296-302.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Review, 69(2):296-302

Response to Colleen Clements's “Misusing Psychiatric Models: the Culture of Narcissism”

Roberta Satow, Ph.D.

Dr. Clements' paper focuses on two major problems in Christopher Lasch's conceptualization of the “culture of narcissism” (1979). She underscores Lasch's incorrect understanding of the concept of narcissism as a “psychiatric” (sic) term. She also clarifies the general misapplication of a psychodynamic concept to a social system level. In my discussion I would like to expand on the first of these two fundamental criticisms of the culture of narcissism perspective and then go on to hypothesize why psychoanalysts have not criticized Lasch both for his misunderstanding of the term and his confusing of individual and structural levels of analysis.

I completely agree with Dr. Clements that the notion of narcissism as Lasch uses it bears no resemblance to the narcissistic personality disorder as described by either Kohut or Kernberg. However, I think that narcissism is the kind of concept that lends itself to that kind of distortion because it is so confusing even in its technical psychoanalytic meanings.

The Psychoanalytic Concept of Narcissism

The concept of narcissism is increasingly problematic in psychoanalytic as well as lay circles because its meaning has become extremely broad. Prior to its adoption by psychoanalysis, the concept of narcissism stayed rather close to the classic figure of Narcissus—the beautiful youth who gazed into the stream with desire at the sight of his own image. Since water is the primitive mirror, it is not surprising that Ovid's poem came to mind when Havelock Ellis read about several cases of erotic self-admiration.

[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 © 2019, 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.