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Moore, B.E. (1975). Toward a Clarification of the Concept of Narcissism. Psychoanal. St. Child, 30:243-276.

(1975). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 30:243-276

Toward a Clarification of the Concept of Narcissism

Burness E. Moore, M.D.

"NARCISSISM," LEWIN (1955) SAID, "IS AN ABSTRACTION, WITH VISIBLE correlates in childhood psychology, in neurosis, in sleep, and in the love life. Narcissism, as a concept, is behind the dream, behind the depression and elation, behind somatic symptoms, etc." (p. 172f.). This succinct statement epitomizes, but does not exhaust, the significance of a concept which remains one of Freud's major theoretical contributions. Presented initially as an extension of his libido theory, the concept had far-reaching ramifications. It contributed to the formulation of a metapsychology, applied first to dreams; led to a deeper understanding of the mechanism of identification in relation to melancholia; pointed the way to the second dual instinct theory; and played a pivotal role in the development of the structural theory. Narcissism was the seed which germinated into ego psychology. The resulting growth in theoretical understanding was prolific, and its applicability to observed clinical phenomena provided the possibility for "the widening scope of psychoanalysis" (Stone, 1954). The latest manifestations of this are in respect to the treatment of borderline conditions (O. Kernberg, 1967), (1969), (1970a) and narcissistic personalities (Kohut, 1968, 1971); (P. Kernberg, 1971).

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