Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Individuation and Narcissism

Individuation and Narcissism: The Psychology of Self in Jung and Kohut

by Mario Jacoby

ISBN: 0415064643
ISBN-13: 9780415064644

From the Publisher

Recent developments in Freudian psychoanalysis, particularly the work of Kohut and Winnicott, have led to a convergence with the Jungian position. Individuation and Narcissism attempts to overcome the doctrinal differences between the different schools of depth psychology, while taking into account the characteristic approaches of each. Through a close examination of the actual experience of self, the process of individuation, narcissism, and narcissistic personality disorder, Mario Jacoby demonstrates the benefits of a cross-fertilization of ideas and techniques for the professional analyst. He also provides a comprehensive discussion of the Freud/Jung controversy and the more recent research on the self for the student of analytical psychology.

Customer Reviews

Kohut and Jung, April 21, 2004
By Sam Vaknin "author of Malignant Self Love - N... (Skopje, Macedonia)
No other concept in depth psychology provoked so much controversy and spawned so many schools of thought as the Self. This book is a magnificent tour d'horizon, spanning the crucial decades from Freud to Jung and therefrom to Kohut.

The book demonstrates that, in a way, Heinz Kohut merely took Jung a step further and invented a new vocabulary to rephrase some of Jung's insights. He said that pathological narcissism is not the result of excessive narcissism, libido or aggression.

It is the result of defective, deformed or incomplete narcissistic (self) structures. Kohut postulated the existence of core constructs which he named: the Grandiose Exhibitionistic Self and the Idealized Parent Imago (see below). Children entertain notions of greatness (primitive or naive grandiosity) mingled with magical thinking, feelings of omnipotence and omniscience and a belief in their immunity to the consequences of their actions. These elements and the child's feelings regarding its parents (which are also painted by it with a brush of omnipotence and grandiosity) - coagulate and form these constructs.

The child's feelings towards its parents are reactions to their responses (affirmation, buffering, modulation or disapproval, punisment, even abuse).

These responses help maintain the self-structures. Without the appropriate responses, grandiosity, for instance, cannot be transformed into adult ambitions and ideals.

To Kohut, grandiosity and idealization were positive childhood development mechanisms. Even their reappearance in transference should not be considered a pathological narcissistic regression. am Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited".

A Wonderful Cross-Fertilization, March 2, 2002
By Andrew Fieleke (Lexington, MA USA)
This clearly written book offers sensitive and empathic reflections on the narcissistic condition. It does so by frequent references to the ideas formulated by Heinz Kohut and his school of thought ("Self Psychology"). Kohut had many compelling insights into narcissism and his theories marked a paradigm shift in psychoanalysis. Jacoby compares Kohut's formulations to Jungian thought, often translating Kohut's ideas or insights into Jungian language and constructs. I found this to be extremely helpful in fleshing out some of the high-level, intuitive abstractions of the Jungian school. For example, I don't think I've ever come across a clearer presentation of the Jungian conception of individuation.

I believe this book will appeal to anyone wishing to learn more about narcissistic wounding and character structures. As Jacoby points out, narcissistic disturbances affect one's sense of identity and self-esteem and are thus implicated in almost all forms of psychic disorders. In other words, narcissism is relevant.