A child’s primary anxiety is based on disintegration based on a fear of death, love and contact with reality. The Narcissistic (NPD) libido (self-object) is still in an intimate connection with the archaic self (objects not separate or independent of the self). Suppose there is a fixation in the archaic grandiose self or archaic over-stimulated cathected objects. There are two major consequences.
- Adult personality and mature functions are impoverished, deprived of energies invested in the archaic structure.
- The breakthrough and intrusion of the archaic structures. Hampers adult realistic activation
Object love is repressed via NPD behaviours of autoerotic fragmentation: perverse fantasies, lack of interest in sex, social/work inhibitions and poor relationships. The NPD lacks humour and empathy, conflicted by attacks of uncontrolled rage and pathological lying., resulting in psychosomatic illness affecting mental and physical health. The equilibrium of the Child’s primary narcissism has been disturbed by an unavoidable shortcoming in maternal care, where the child replaces the previous perfection with
- Grandiose + exhibitionist image of a self-grandiose self
- Giving over the previous perfection to an admired omnipotent (transitional) self-object – idealised parental imago (IPI)
The small child originally invests libido in the other with narcissistic cathexes and experiences them narcissistically as self-objects, believing I am perfect, you are perfect, and I am part of you.
This should eventually be neutralised and integrated into the personality to fuel ego-syntonic ambitions and purposes. The idealised parental imago becomes also integrated into the adult personality, introjected as our idealised superego. This is achieved in therapy by
- Mobilisation of idealised parental imago (idealising transference)
- Mobilisation of grandiose self (mirroring)
Resolved Castration anxiety with a healthy oedipal phase completion creates pride in achievement, affection and self-assertion, and pride and joy from self-objects. The child/Adult will not frequent sexual impulses with destructive hostility and is unafraid of intimacy with parents. The experience of bliss and joy resides in the idealised object, and the child feels empty and lost when away from the object and attempts a continuous union. Oedipal objects cathected with object libido (aggression) lead to the building up of aspects of the superego, which direct toward the ego the commands and prohibitions, praise and scolding formerly directed toward the child. The child should experience a gradual disappointment in the idealised object. The image becomes more realistic and leads to the withdrawal of narcissistic cathexes from the imago of the idealised self-object and gradual integration into the superego. A narcissistic injury or injuries manifest in the child as
- Diffuse narcissistic vulnerability
- The defective stimulus barrier is unable to maintain basic narcissistic homeostasis.
- Readiness to re-sexualise the drive (perverse fantasies).
- The superego contains the Introjects of the oedipal object. The idealisation of an incomplete superego leads to a continued search for and wants approval and leadership that one’s superego can’t provide (responsibility).
- The Ego is an internal replica of the pre-oedipal object.
The Trauma of the injury means the narcissistic self does not merge and strives for archaic aims. The parental imago is not transferred into a tension regulating the structure and remains at the transitional object to maintain homeostasis. Early loss of object cathexes (libido and aggression) leads to a continuous striving for the missing segments of the structure—E.g. drugs to replace self-soothing and relieve the gratification process. The ego remains immature, where the lack of normal-tension integration leads to a lack of regulating structure, unable to tame affects or curb anxiety (states of panic). Three categories of NPD development
- Early-stage – diffuse stimulus barrier, diffuse narcissistic vulnerability. unable to maintain homeostasis
2. Pre oedipal – a disturbance in drive controlling, channelling, neutralising. Re-sexualised drives (perverse fantasies)
3. Oedipal – search for an external ideal figure to obtain approval and leadership, which the insufficient superego Structure can’t provide or maintain
Narcissistic equilibrium is safeguarded only through the intense responses and the approval of present-day (currently active) replica of the traumatically internalised self-object, replaying the insufficient idealisation of their own superego, cathexing their libido with the idealised imago’s values and standards. The Adult Child cannot feel satisfied when achieving the goals of the idealised object, culture or peers, always searching for perfection and superiority. NPD alternates between anxious grandiosity and excitement to embarrassment, self-consciousness, severe shame, and depression.
For perfect mirroring, the therapist must share
- Parents’ values, goals and standards are imbued them through idealisation.
- Confirm with a warm glow and live up to unattainable expectations to enable progress.
Any Sensitive thoughts and setbacks are perceived as a personal injury. With each misunderstanding, the client withdraws narcissistic libido from the therapist who is playing the role of the archaic imago of perfection (primary narcissism), where they can use the libido to create a structure to take over their mother’s functions in maintaining equilibrium. To keep equilibrium, the NPD child had to forego any sense of self and appeal to the mother to soothe any reoccurrence of the injury. The preconscious image of self is a hyper-cathected grandiose self, unable to self-soothe with no internal idealised goals or values of their own to process due to insufficient superego. Suppose the child is subjected to a dominant libidinal object, amalgamated into an incestuous oedipal childhood imago, where the Idealised parent imago is retained. The repressed ego is inaccessible to the influences of the reality ego, which would bring about the withdrawal of the idealising cathexes, and any internalisation is prevented. The adult /child is confronted with the task of achieving a wholesale transmuting internalisation of a chronic narcissistic relationship from which they tried to eradicate themselves from. Transmuting internalisation demands
The psychic apparatus must be ready for the formation of structure. Proceeding with the withdrawal of the cathexes from the object, there is a breaking up of these aspects of the object imago, creating optimal frustration.
The internal structure performs the functions of which the idealised object used to perform.
The ego’s performance over infantile aims and desires is achieved via repeated experiences where Manageable portions of the repressed libidinal and aggressive strivings are mobilised. The mechanism by which the strivings are discovered and worked through by monitoring reactions to the loss of the NPD experiences. When neurotic defences are removed, object instinctual investments give access to the ego; the Ego dominates drives and defences.
With the gradual withdrawal of narcissistic libido, there is a building up of drive to control, regulating the structure of the ego and an increased idealisation of the superego. The client will go through a series of experiences and stages of development.
- Loss of NPD Union with idealised self-object
- Disturbance in NPD Balance
- Subsequent hypercathexes of archaic forms, including autoeroticism and perverse fantasies, attempt to re-establish union with the Idealised object.
- A self-applied stimulus such as smelling one’s own body, masturbation or oral activities (food bingeing), Grandiose exhilaration, fast cars, etc., anything to avoid physical reality
- The idealising libido (admiration and esteem) does not need to be immediately withdrawn from the idealised image; tensions can be tolerated, and therefore, autoerotic acting out can be prevented.
- The gradual relinquishment of an idealised parent helps the consolidation of the psyche. NPD energies are transferred to the self/personality with increased drive control, helping the formation of ideals and aims whilst strengthening the more differentiated attributes of the psyche
- Narc fantasies and exhibitionism are given up and replaced by ego-syntonic goals and purposes for realistic self-esteem.
3 Types of Mirroring
- Primary – vicissitudes of grandiose self during childhood
- Secondary clinical transference is activated through a primary mirror or by a temporary retreat from idealising transference (reactive) or in transference repetition of a sequence of interactions, which may create a bond, to avoid the uncontrollable regressive fear of loss of contact with grandiose fantasies and idealised object.
- Twinship Transference– like or similar to them
The Mirror transference allows the client to experience the therapist as a separate person, leading to a new instalment in the normal phase of development and engagement. Sadistic elements in sessions diminish the demand for affection, and responses take on the vigour of familiarity between parent and child. The alter ego transference of twinship is more archaic than the mirror transference.
Girl- mirroring father, idealised mother. Boy – mirroring mother, idealised father.
Sequential Patterns of Transference
- Twin ship
Early trauma leads to castration anxiety and primary and secondary disturbances (rage, despondency and lack of hope).
- Psychosis – serious distortion of the self
- Borderline states – defensive structures
- Schizoid/paranoid – emotional distance from others and via hostility. Suspicious. Protection against break up
- Narcissistic personality disorder– temp break up of self, autoplastic symptoms. Hypersensitive to slights, hypochondria or depression.
- Narcissistic behavioural disorder– alloplastic symptoms – perversion, delinquency or addiction
The Nuclear self (grandiose exhibitionism) has gone into hiding via a horizontal split in personality. The opposing sides of the vertical split are either empty and deprived or an arrogant self, generated via appendage to mother. The horizontal barrier of repression is where we need to make conscious of the unconscious structures.
The Immature self has a major fixation on the idealised self-object due to poor mirroring as early sexual objects develop an idealised transference (neurosis). Under healthy conditions, the child learns their limitations and gives up NPD fantasies, replaced by ego-syntonic goals and aims, achieving pleasure in ego functions and activities, and embracing realistic self-esteem.
Two Influencing factors
- A person’s ultimate goals and attitude. Carry characteristics of imago (transferred by transmuting internalisation)
- The Psychic structure may be split off from the reality ego or separated from it via repression. No longer accessible to external influence and retained in an archaic form.
The immature self begins to be immobilised in the mirror transference and brought under the influence of the reality ego and is gradually modified. The Self can recognise imperfections and limitations, lessening the domain of power and grandiose fantasy. Reasonable action, beliefs and goals replace lies and fantasies. An ego addicted to lying and delinquency struggles to live up to the demands of a grandiose self and mixes fantasy with reality. Repression created by
- Archaic merger through the extension of the grandiose self
- The less archaic form carries an “alter ego” transference of twinship.
- Less archaic – mirror transference
The mother’s role is to aid the child`s development from autoeroticism to narcissism (nuclear self /fragmented self) to the stage of the cohesive self, not fully integrated yet. The Sense of self, cathexed with narcissistic (Narc) libido, leads to improvement and functioning of the ego. Desired outcome
- Healthy exhibitionism and display
- Need to merge with idealised father /therapist
- Employment of genuine talents possessed
The Adult/child may try to counteract painful feelings via work, physical stimulus (sex) or exercise, with no in-depth participation with the self. Whenever the mirror can be maintained, the child feels threatened by the dissolution of the narc unit of the self and will start to re-experience hypercathexis and isolation of body parts. The experience of separation may also lead to hypochondria or other pathologies (perverse instincts) to stem the tide of regression. This is the active destruction of any cohesive self-experience (shifting attention to a body part) just after a vulnerable moment of exuberance or exhibitionism /grandiosity, exposing a fully vulnerable self. The mirror transference re-established an ancient identity with the object by extending the grandiose self with merger and separation.
The Alter ego (twinship) transference is not experienced as the primary identity, but a likeness with the object is established. Object elaboration is more abundant but still cathected with narc libido and contributes (interferes) with maintaining the child’s narc equilibrium. Mirroring emerges from the verbal stage with some object constancy in the narc realm. A stable invested narc object in transference contributes to maintaining the cohesive self and parent.
There are three layers of mirroring.
1. Primary – mobilisation of grandiose self
2. Reactive to idealising transference and remobilisation of grandiose self.
3. Secondary -transference repetition of a specific goal sequence
What transference is used depends on the ego fixation point.
Insufficient mirroring from the mother means the child can’t find gratification in adult life and cannot curb the grandiosity activated when the imagination of self-experience starts. The child`s father could not be idealised due to impairment or his own narc needs, which would help strengthen the self’s structure and expression through reliable, available creative pursuits. The body’s intense veracity overtaxes the child, and feelings of frustration will retreat with rage.
The mother will shrink or withdraw from the relationship via a familiar sense instead of providing narc fulfilment. The repressed parts merge with the id (the unconscious). The influence of the outside world modifies the ego. It works the interplay between the id and motor functions and instinctual drives, supporting the transformation of the infantile narc to an “ego ideal”.
“The super ego is the heir of the Oedipus complex and the internal world. “
Three factors impair this development.
- Lack of Inter participation increases defences.
- Archaic wishes intrude into the ego.
- Repeated archaic strivings impact new structures being formed, unable to modulate archaic strivings.
Id – sexual love for mother / Super Ego – identification with rival father
High-level narc-like actors, CEOs, and politicians have grandiose delusions fused with a grand sense of entitlement, lacking empathy and awareness. They are highly revered, prized and envied, with shallow interactions creating an impeccable self-image that wants loyal servants/fans. Rewards of the external world fill the inner void of bottomless rage, secret envy, paranoia and a hardened heart. Obsessed with an image where everything is scripted /perfected, a walking advert of themselves programmed for success. A deep ambivalence about separation and gaining independence as they cannot tolerate frustrations, setbacks or obstacles.
With a self not established, the child reaches stimulation via erogenous zones and brings about the oral and anal drive fixations and ego enslavement to the driving aim correlated to the stimulus of the body zones. The child gives up hope to obtain the joys of self-assertion and will turn to pleasure, which he can derive from the fragments of the body self.
- Mobilisation of idealised parent imago (IPI) in idealising transference.
- Mobilisation of grandiose self via mirroring.
All bliss and power reside in the IPI; when separated, the child feels powerless and tries to maintain the continuous union. Once the narc libido is activated, there is libidinal fuel for wisdom and creativity. During the pre-oedipal phase, the child withdraws some of the idealising libidos from the merger and employs it to build up the drive-controlling/channelling structures. Phase-appropriate oedipal disappointment in the same-sex parent can lead to narc regression and lack of individual superego.
Oedipal objects cathected with object libido and aggression lead to the development of a superego directed to the ego in the forms of commands and prohibitions. If this is not achieved with no internal structures, the psyche remains fixated on an archaic self-object with object hunger and need for narc supply, strivings from missing parts of the psyche.
Addicts, for example, manifest due to the disappointment in the mother and the need for fulfilment. They can’t internalise early experiences of being soothed or aided when falling asleep or needing emotional support. They Fill the void and missing aspects of the fixated object with drugs, alcohol, work, etc.
Disturbances in relationship with idealised objects lead to
- Structure weakness that can’t maintain narc homeostasis with diffuse narc vulnerability
- Lack of Pre-oedipal establishment of drive channelling control leads to the sexualisation of drive derivatives and int./ext. Conflicts are acted out in perverse fantasies.
The child’s Fear of uncontrollable regression and uncontrolled overstimulation are created by primitive exhibitionism, combined with fears of losing contact with reality due to an upsurge of grandiose fantasies. The hyper-cathected grandiose image is protected with hostility, coldness, arrogance, sarcasm or silence. They engage in Pseudo activities such as sports, celebrities, reality TV, and overt excitement to hide low self-esteem and depression. There is a deep sense of unworthiness and rejection with an incessant hunger for response and yearning for reassurance to generate self-stimulus to mask inner deadness and erotic grandiose fantasies. The Self-object via narc libido is fused with the archaic self and can’t experience the object as separate and independent of the archaic self.
The client /child starts with withdrawing narc libido from archaic objects to create new psychological structures and functions. The withdrawal of IPI libido leads to the building up of a regulating structure.
Fixation of an archaic grandiose self or archaic object leads to various outcomes.
- Mature functions are impoverished with the required energies invested in ancient structures.
- Activates hampered by breakthrough /intrusion of archaic realities and claims.
Process for narcissism
- The disintegration of higher forms of narcissism
- Regression to Narc position
- Breakdown of Narc position (loss of cathected object + fragmentation of self and archaic self-object)
- The resurrection of archaic self in the psychotic form
The Ego reacts with anxiety to dangers when it feels exposed, threatened by the breakthrough of the forbidden object’s instinctual strivings and punished by physical or emotional abandonment. They can’t regulate self-esteem, anxiety to the excitement, a mild embarrassment of self-consciousness, severe shame, hyper drama or depression.
Sequence of events
- Castration anxiety
- Fear of loss of the love of the object
- Fear of loss of the object
Transference neurosis develops as inhibitions and symptoms such as phobias, obsession and compulsions: regressed mood, lack of zest, dull work and relationship, perverse trends, and narc disturbance.
- Perverse fantasies, lack of interest in sex
- Work inhibitions, delinquent activities
- Lack of humour, empathy and unwarranted rage, lying and lack of sense of proportion
- Hypochondria – physical and mental health preoccupations.
Oedipal disgust of same-sex parents leads to the idealisation of the superego, which is needed to stop narc regression, where oedipal objects are internalised (libido and aggression). Ego commands such as inhibitions/prohibition lead to the idealisation of the superego. Modification of archaic idealising (taming, neutralisation and differentiation) is achieved by passing through the idealised parent imago (IPI) with a new capacity for different control, values and standards.
Childhood Trauma means it lacks internalisation and no internal structure development, remaining fixated on an archaic self-object. Intense object hunger, forever seeking approval, striving for missing parts of the psyche, needing to replace the segment that has not been established. Lack of empathy by IPI leads to the non-internalisation of being soothed and supported. Narc equilibrium is safeguarded through the interest, responses and approval of present-day replicas of the lost self-object. The superego is without exalted status and unable to raise self-esteem, unable to feel good living up to cultural and family standards and be satisfied. Self-esteem is acquired via attachment to strong/ admired figures via the acceptance and approval they crave.
Parental frustrations, delays and misattunement lead to the child withdrawing narc libido from an archaic form of perfection (IPI). The mother maintains narc sustenance as the child clings to vague images of absolute perfection.
“The narc equilibrium structure is unable to self soothe with no narc cathexes due to unavailable self-object, leaving them prone /defenceless to narc injury.”
- Lack of mother’s response due to self-absorption or impairment. Projection of her own moods and tension onto the child
- Overresponse and selectivity correspond to her own narc tension and preoccupations.
- Lack of attachment needs. Creates a conflict between the allocation of needs between the Child and the Parent
- Sexualisation of pathological narc constellations can enslave the ego. The fantasy of the oedipal object overwhelming them with power and thirst for control.
- Two forms of transference neurosis- admiration of object love and projection of superego.
IPI is retained in the disturbance, repressed and inaccessible to the reality ego. Internalisation is prevented, and narc relationships are fused, which the child cannot extricate from. There is no strong father to discern the realistic shortcomings of the mother, and she becomes split off and can’t be modified. With no idealised superego, the Adult/child is always searching for omnipotent power to derive strength from. Through therapy, the client/child can withdraw narc cathexes from repressed idealised imago, strengthen drive controlling structure, and create an idealised superego. May swing to autoerotic body self-behaviour during the process. Deprivation of an idealised figure will create and expose low self-esteem, negative feelings and a sense of worthlessness. The ego/superego resistance in transference deals with the ego’s reluctance to admit to repressed instinctual strivings into the realm, where the repressed archaic self-object is again open to the dominance of the reality ego. Transference neuroses defences are removed, object instinctual drives are given access to the ego, and a better psychological structure is established with more dominance of ego overdrives and defences.
Patients’ loss of narc union with the IPI leads to more insight and greater ego deviation from perverse acts to acceptable activities. Tension and longing for IPI can be tolerated, and the charge from archaic object to fragmented body/mind self can also be tolerated. The oedipal superego is influenced by specific values and ideals of the parents (drive control with ideas around seduction and threats) to continue absolute power and perfection needed to keep equilibrium with IPI and maintain a Grandiose self. Imperfections are assigned to the outside world via projections and other ego defence methods. Normal mirroring and appropriate selective responses by the adult lead to the child experiencing limitations. Grand fantasies and exhibitions are gradually given up, replaced by ego-syntonic goals and purposes to create and establish their own self-esteem. The grandiose self is split off from the reality ego and separated by repression, no longer accessible to external influences but retained in an archaic form. It can be neutralised in the mirror transference and brought about into the reality ego.
The ego cannot maintain a real organisation under the pressure of fantasies created by needs and fusion with the idealised object. The primary identity is merged (symbiosis) with the grandiose self, first experienced with diffuse boundaries and will want to dominate the other with aggression and totalitarianism. If the mother recoils from the child’s body or recoils her own body for the child’s enjoyment, they become hyper-cathexis and vigilant due to loss of contact and closeness.
The NPD will use the therapist (as a merger) as an extension of the self (split off or repressed) and own the grandiose and exhibitionism he experiences in their alter-ego (twinship) as a separate part of perfection and may demand from the therapist perfect mirroring, an echo and confirmation of their greatness. Merger and twinship are preverbal methods of communication and before the third level impasse. The child demands approval and attention, and echoing is rejected as the mother possesses tyranny of admiration. Over-possessiveness betrays the child’s attempts at self-activation and creates sadistic drives produced by parental frustrations and disappointments. Working through repeated ego encounters with repressed strivings and confrontation with archaic defence methods leads to expansive and dominance of ego functions. After the ineffectual integration of reality and ego, the client may have two psychic dysfunctions.
- The tendency for hypochondria, preoccupied with shame and embarrassment
- Lowering of capacity for healthy self-esteem and ego-syntonic engagement
Narc libido is tied to the unrealistic unconscious and split off disallowed grandiose fantasies and is unavailable to ego syntonic activation and cooperation, with no superego internalisation, searching for exterior ideal figures for homeostasis.
To Transmute internalisation
- Psychic apparatus must be ready for the formation of a structure
- Optimal frustration should happen fractionally by the introduction of disappointments
- The effective internal structure now performs functions parents used to or tried to
To escape from narc tensions, the client projects the idealised superego onto the therapist, as the idealisation buttresses regression and denial of underlying hostility. Lack of opportunity to discover the realistic shortcomings of a father accounts for continued idealisation and can become repressed and split off. Therefore, No modification of the mother’s fantasy (IPI) can occur. When working with a therapist, the client can withdraw narc cathexes that can strengthen the drive, control basic structure and create an idealised superego. Core conscious fear of social disgrace due to a merger with the punitive IPI, implanting a deep sense of shame and exhibitionism inhibitions. With the lack of apparatus to de-cathexis with pre-oedipal objects, the child can’t desexualise and neutralise his impulses and wishes, remaining incomplete with a fragile veneer easily swept away under stress.
- Vertical Barrier- The whole psyche split off from the central self, manifested by alternative states of grandiosity that deny the frustrating need for approval and overt feelings of emptiness/low self-esteem. Perverse behaviour and claims of grandiose self are unrealistic and unsustainable. When shot down, they react with excessive shame and self-rejection as the self is not omnipotent and all-knowing; only by gaining access to the Ego can they become vulnerable without shame. Not swayed by guilt (superego) or overwhelmed by shame.
- Horizontal Barrier–regression barrier- emotional coldness keeping a distance from where he might want narc sustenance. It keeps discomfort within a durable limit and mirrors kept alive without gratifying infantile form. Keeps escape route active to keep infantile form active.
- Horizontal split-deprives reality ego of narc nutriment and a nourishment deficiency (diminished self-confidence, vague depression, absence of zest and lack of vitality).
- Vertical split-unmodified grand self-excluded by realistic sector by a vertical split. Vain, boastful and assertive. They have the same horizontal split-off, inaccessible repressed grandiosity with similar symptoms to Number 1.
The therapist does not speak to the ID (repressed part) and Part (Ego aspect) that is split off. We must explain and explore the split-off part of the reality ego and try to re-educate the ID with an acceptance of body/self. The mother’s rejection of intimacy and closeness leaves the child unable to respond to verbal body/self.
The Adult/child can only value material possessions and status, unable to accept any display towards their own body and mind, obtaining narcissistic acceptance and approval from an external supply. They ultimately need to bring into consciousness the simultaneous existence of the regressed self with a side-by-side cohesive self with different goal structures: pleasure aims, morals and values. The process starts by taking down the vertical split barrier, the disavowed reality ego combined with the infantile ego. Then, the taking down of the horizontal barrier (repression) with the reality ego having narc energy doing away with low self-esteem, shame and a sense of deprivation. A neutralised narc structure can then neutralise object-directed sexual and aggressive drives.
- The child fears grandiosity will isolate him and permanently lose the object.
- Desire to escape from the discomfort caused by the intrusion of narc /libido into the ego whereby elation (fragmented) is followed by shame, self-consciousness and hypochondria
- Tries to avoid this by building narc structures by forming emergency symptoms. Childhood wishes contracted with instinctual energies have been regressed (not integrated), and there is no participation in personality maturation.
- Twin ships and mergers are the carriers of infantile greatness and exhibitionism. Mirroring develops the expanded self, allowing the client to persevere by exposing the grandiose self to the confrontation with the reality ego.