Monday, June 04, 2007

Life Narcissism, Death Narcissism

Life Narcissism, Death Narcissism

by Andre Green, Andrew Weller (Translator)

ISBN: 1853435309
ISBN-13: 9781853435300

Book Description

The reawakening of interest in narcissism in psychoanalytic theory comes at an appropriate moment for the publication of this collection of mostly hitherto untranslated texts, all centred on one of the most enigmatic questions in psychoanalysis. After introducing the concept of narcissism in 1914, Freud was to lose interest in it when he undertook the theoretical reshaping (begun around 1920) which gave rise to the final theory of drives (opposition of the life drives and the death drives), the second topography of the psychical apparatus (Id-Ego-Superego) and his new conception of anxiety. After a period of neglect, this concept though apparently re-discovered in America had, in fact, never been forgotten in French psychoanalysis. André Green, who has been pursuing this problem with interest since 1963, is one of the rare authors, if not the only one, who has attempted to link the theory of narcissism with Freud's final theory of drives. While narcissism is generally only considered in terms of its positive aspects in which it is linked to the life drives, Green shows that it is necessary to postulate the existence of death-giving narcissism, which he calls negative narcissism. Unlike the former, which aims at achieving ego unity, the latter strives, on the contrary, to abolish it, aspiring to reduce desire to the level zero. This theory of narcissism is illustrated by the exposition of a certain number of forms of narcissism met with in clinical practice, of which the "dead mother" is one of the most widely encountered. Finally, in a study of the ego, Green draws attention to the duplicity underlying its structure, in the contradiction between knowing that one is mortal and believing oneself to be immortal - all of which conjures up the mystical figure of Narcissus Janus.

From The Critics

Taking the same position on clinical psychoanalysis as he has taken theoretically, Green believes that certain structures should be particularized in the name of narcissism, but it would be a mistake to exaggerate the differences between narcissistic structures and borderline cases. He suspects that a new metapsychology, a third topography, may have slipped surreptitiously into psychoanalytic thinking without anyone noticing, the theoretical poles of which would be the Self and the object.