The Child sees others with narcissistic mental energy and experiences them narcissistically as self-objects. I am perfect, you are perfect, but I am part of you. The idealised parent imago is not transformed into a tension-regulating psychic structure, which does not attain the states of accessible introjects, and remains as an archaic transitional object to maintain narcissistic homeostasis.

The autoerotic Stages of the fragmented self are the central area of regression, containing fragments of an archaic grandiose self as the idealised object, beyond the reach of the healthy part of the psyche, as they are only experienced, not verbalised. The narcissistic first stage of a cohesive self precludes the development of transference in the borderline wound.

  • Narcissistic object (parent imago) + subject (grandiose self) cathected (mental energy focused on) the narcissistic libido, idealising libido and exhibitionist libido.
  • Mature self-deprived of enough and reliable supply of narcissistic investments
  • No feelings attuned and labile to fragment, no cathexis (no mental energy towards the child)

The immature Ego reacts with anxiety when threatened with the breakthrough of forbidden (incestuous – oedipal or pre-oedipal) object instinctual strivings. The physical threat of emotional abandonment (castration anxiety) due to the loss of an object or loss of the love of the object. The Mature self cannot grow beyond the narcissistic injury due to intrusions of either archaic forms of subject-bound grandiosity or archaic grandiose self-objects within the child’s realm and environment. The child alternates between anxious grandiosity and excitement on the one hand and then mild embarrassment and self-consciousness (shame, depression) on the other.

The sequence of Narcissistic felt experience.

  • Shame
  • Loss of the love of the object
  • Loss of the object experiences leads to
  • Guilt
  • Castration anxiety
  • Narcissistic objects are archaic and pre-structural, developed by the Withdrawal of love or when the child is confronted with temp or permanent absence.

The impairments and defects of the object other are interwoven and fused to maintain cohesion and self-esteem, leading to neuroses, as the child fears punishment from a separate /independent object. The child’s love/striving is not being responded to, leading to longing and continuous seeking for the absent object. The parental inhibitions manifest as symptoms (phobias, obsession, compulsions) within the transference neuroses with depression and a lack of zest and initiative in work or personal experiences. Narcissistic disturbance can lead to perverse needs and behaviours.

  1. The amalgamation of repressed infantile objects with libidinal anger (pre-conscious) strivings related to objects in the present primary narcissism replaced by a grandiose /exhibitionist image and give over to perfection to an admired omnipotent (transitional) object idealised parent imago .when there is a primary disturbance in the primary narcissism the psyche saves a part of the lost experience of narcissistic perfection by assigning it to an archaic transitional self-object. Bliss and Power reside in the idealised object, and the child feels empty when separated, therefore attempting to maintain a continuous union with the object.
  2. May experience States of tensions and or seek relief from tensions, but they don’t try to identify or contact the archaic experience again. The approval stage of idealisation (powerful object /instinctual cathexis), as part of the phase appropriate internalization, which establishes the super-Ego + the narcissistic qualities, has remained unchanged.
  3. Idealisation has two main roads to the development of narcissism. Idealising narcissistic libido Is the fuel for creativity and wisdom.

Two cores of personality

  • Neutralising basic fabric
  • Idealised super-ego

When the child idealises the parent, it is open to connection/modification through experience (the child’s recognition of the parent’s qualities), which helps the child withdraw some of the idealising libidos to build up drive-controlling structures. The massive oedipal disappointment of the parent (same-sex) leads to the idealised super-ego to protect the personality against the dangers of narcissistic regression. Phase-appropriate internalisation of the object cathexis by libido and aggression leads to the build-up of aspects of the superego directed towards the ego. The commands and prohibitions, praise, scolding, and punishment are formerly directed onto the child by the parent.

The internalisation of the narcissistic aspects of the child/oedipal parents leads to a narcissistic dimension of the superego, I.e. idealisation. The Character aura of the absolute perfection of values and standards in the superego is denied; these parts are invested with narcissistic libido, which keeps the idealised parent image vulnerable to a blocked and disturbed development.

  • Formation of the archaic idealised self-object
  • Massive reinternalization of the idealised aspects of the parent imago
  • Increased dominance of the ego over instinctual drives, the drive controlling, and drive channelling aspects of the superego tamed by passing through idealised self-object phase and neutralisation. This may result in absolute perfectionism of the superego (its own idealisation) and is also reinforced by the parent’s lack of empathy.
  • The nuclear structure at the end of the oedipal period establishes reliable ideals and takes place during latency and puberty, and the object loss will not leave the personality incomplete, regardless of how crushing it may be experienced.
  • Traumatic deprivation and losses of objects up to and including the oedipal period may interfere with the basic structuralising of the psychic apparatus.
  • New object experiences may result in high degrees of reversibility to the superego at the beginning of newly established idealisation and undo pre-conscious idealisation of the superego and the renewal insistent on another external object of perfection.

When the mother is unavailable to the child’s longing during separation, this is unbearable to the child; the child will give up the external idealisation of the self-object for temporary fixes of re-cathexis with idealising libido towards the mother. Under normal circumstances, the child will gradually experience the idealised object’s gradual disappointment. The child’s evaluation becomes more realistic, leading to the withdrawal of the narcissistic cathexis from the parental imago of the idealised self-object and the gradual internalisation of the self-object.

A permanent psychological structure is acquired instead of the idealized self-object

If the child experiences some trauma (severe and sudden), the psyche remains fixated on the archaic self-object with an intense form of object hunger driven by substituting the missing parts of the psychic structure. Therapy and internalising are needed to replace the function of the part not established in childhood, where the narcissistic personality cannot maintain equilibrium and the ability to re-establish the personality after disturbance.

The child can’t self-soothe and remains fixated on aspects of the archaic objects and finds solutions in drugs and alcohol, the deficit in psychological structure.

  • Structural weakness – vulnerability
  • Pre-oedipal failure in the establishment of drive controlling and drive channelling
  • The superego contains the oedipal object, Ego or pre-oedipal object.

During the healing process, Loving /approval and envy/frustrating aspects of the oedipal ego become approving functions and positive goals of the superego and prohibitions enacted during the oedipal period. The idealisation of the superego is incomplete (May have values and standards); the child will forever reach out to external ideal figures to obtain approval and leadership the superego can’t provide. The relationship between the formation of psychic structure and withdrawal of the object instinctual and narcissistic cathexes from the object happens due to 4 factors.

  1. Psychic apparatus must be ready for formation with a level of maturity.
  2. The child’s ability to experience disappointment in one of the idealised objects or qualities of other idealised objects is disturbed, and the omnipotent object is maintained. 
  3. The functions the object used to perform are internalised and substituted, and structures will continue to perform drive-regulating integrity and adaptive functions.
  4. True objects are cathexed with object instinctual investments. Love and hate by the psyche have been separated and acknowledged and eventually integrated to create an autonomous structure. Able to accept independent motivation and responses of others and the notion of maturity
  5. Idealising transference – mobilisation of the parent imago
  6. Mobilisation of the grandiose self- (mirror transference)
  7. Analysis of reactions during transference and mobilisation of the idealised parent imago
  8. Reactions during grandiose self-mobilisation

Idealising transference

The child’s mother experiences a schizoid disintegration with anxiety and excitement when exposed to the pressure of her narcissistic vulnerability. Insufficient idealisation within the superego structure (father idealised power) highlights no transmuting internalisation has taken place, but the pre-structural ideal is always searched and yearned for. The superego does not possess an exalted status and cannot raise the client’s self-esteem; hence the child gets no satisfaction in living up to the parent’s goals and standards. During the idealising transference the

  • A therapist shares goals and standards and imbues them with significance (idealisation)
  • Confirms they have lived up to these values and working towards goals.

Diffused narcissistic vulnerability is sensitive to slights and setbacks (perfection in the realm of knowledge, beauty, and morality), where the child withdraws narcissistic libido from the archaic imago of unconditional perfection (primary narcissism) when experiencing disappointment or frustration. This can be remedied when the inner structure takes over the mother’s functions to maintain equilibrium. When the adult/child can experience principle frustration and tolerate disappointment, new internal structures are established that permit self-soothing and tolerate basic tensions in the narcissistic realm. Primary narcissism is the first two months after birth (symbiosis), responsive to internal needs and unresponsive to the environment, where parental frustration may lead to arrested development.

The narcissistic realm is a Symbiotic merger with a mother (omnipotent system), a dual unity with one common boundary, where the child believes they control this omnipotent parent. If the child’s needs of soothing, protection and overstimulation from the external source are not met, not internalised and established, the child will continue to seek external validation and expectations that were not provided. They become dependent on external sources and resentful for depending on them, alternating between a desperate dependency and exaggerated independence. The child is grandiose with a sense of omnipotence but returns to the belief in unity with the mother, where they consume the magical parents and can control them.

Their sense of entitlement and instant gratification becomes demanding and confusing as they coerce nurturance from others. The pathological giving person should willingly experience disappointment, which leads to inevitable disillusionment, providing structure for the ego to experience the real self. Optimal frustration within the Therapeutic relationship creates a healthy symbiosis where the experience of separation is not too traumatic. The child learns the caretaker/therapist will come back, building up the internal structure and aiding self-soothing.

The child will have a massive resistance to ego-building as it requires frustration, suffering, and pain. The parent’s role is to insist the child confronts that realisation of life struggles with optimal frustration, supported with caring and loving responses to create a background of security. The child needs to experience loneliness repeatedly during the separation, knowing the loved one will return, learning to tolerate anxiety and not withdraw as usual.

When the child can tolerate a length of intimacy, they can build up healthier internal structures where anxiety is tolerated, and they are more able to be vulnerable.

The child’s narcissistic grandiosity needs to be neutralised in the rapprochement phase to remove infantile behaviour and attitudes. The Borderline character moves between manic excitement in separation and then breaks down into collapse, illness, or depression when trying to return. The feeling of euphoria removes the experiences of loss and insufficiency, as they cannot integrate their own desires for self-actualisation. The need to integrate grandiosity and vulnerability is refused and unacceptable in the rapprochement phase, regression to an illusion of grandiosity and symbiotic unity, and becomes fixated on the development. The rapprochement phase (15-24 months) is when natural consciousness demands a confrontation with these realities.

Rapprochement phase

  • Mastery of cognitively intensified separation anxiety
  • Affirmation of the sense of basic trust
  • Gradual depletion and relinquishment of omnipotence
  • Firming up a core sense of self
  • Increased child’s ego capacities and a sense of autonomy
  • Ego control and modulation of strong libidinal and aggressive urges and aspects (infantile rage)
  • Healing intrapsychic split and use of splitting
  • Curing unacceptable affects and impulse towards love objects
  • Object constancy (24-36 months). I stand opposed to the other, establishing a separate identity.

The primitive use of Splitting is when the child can’t hold positive /negative views of themselves or the object, isolating these representations and compartmentalising them to stay in union with the idealised imago. The child remains composed of an archaic consciousness implementing grandiosity, idealisation, and splitting. Manifesting as an alternating Polarisation between

  • The Grandiose and enfeebled self
  • Perfectionism idealisation to devastating disillusionment

The symbiotic character (borderline) does not resolve the separation and only knows themselves in relation to another. They attempt to merge or push away to keep a cohesive sense of one’s own identity, existence, and boundaries. They Coerce others to take care of them, respond to them, fight for them and affirm their existence in relationships. The Narcissistic self is walled off from repeated exposure to limitation or humiliation, as they can’t accommodate both grandiosity and limitation. Girls are likely to be used for caretaking roles to continue the symbiotic needs of parents. The child is used to gratify the parent’s narcissistic needs (inappropriate) or is the target of envious attacks of retaliation, stifling any development in self-activation walled off from feedback and correction, as this creates further separation anxiety and limitation.

The child needs to win some of the battles without the fear of humiliation or force. The masochistic is formed by parents who will not tolerate any opposing views, ushering in total conformity in toilet training and eating to fit into the parent’s schedule. This will break the child’s will with forced superficial compliance with underlining spite for those parents who forced unattuned accommodation. Over Compliance, over scarifying, over depreciating leads to a passive individual with unrepressed envy and spite, with continued dependence on the maternal love object with resistance to dependency and internalization is incomplete. They allow underlying hostility to be expressed due to the crushing of the will.

Kohut, H., 2009. Analysis of The Self. 2nd ed. Chicago Press: University of Chicago Press