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Narcissism (Oedipal Narcissism)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Narcissism (Oedipal Narcissism)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Narcissism (Oedipal Narcissism)

Disturbances of Oedipal Narcissism

Recognizing and appreciating the nature of the oedipal self and its narcissistic disturbances brings us a powerful understanding of the phenomenon of falling in love. The characteristics of this form of self, both the sweetness of love and the ecstasy of passion, are exactly what the individual in love enjoys. To be in love is to be swept by an ecstatic love, in which the sweetness of appreciation and affection cannot be separated from a passionate desire to be one with the beloved. We feel full, alive, sexually stimulated, and vigorous; we behold the beloved as beautiful, luscious, sexy, and extremely desirable. We feel tender and selflessly loving, but also turned on, excited and full of life. We need intensely for this love to be seen, appreciated and reciprocated. Unrequited love causes us extreme frustration, also deep narcissistic hurt and disappointment. It exposes the disturbances of oedipal narcissism. A common narcissistic element of being in love is exclusive preoccupation with the beloved at the expense of other areas of one’s life. The lover has extreme hopes for a level of fulfillment that goes beyond merely the reciprocation of love; he deeply entertains the hope for complete narcissistic gratification, which will enable him to spontaneously be himself with deep, orgiastic abandon. In other words, the lover’s desire is not only the reciprocation of his passionate love, but the realization—through the support and mirroring in this reciprocation—of his oedipal self.


How Oedipal Narcissism Develops

Our understanding of the development of oedipal narcissism, then, is that the oedipal self becomes weakened and distorted in the absence or inadequacy of appropriate mirroring and support. The self develops without integrating the qualities and capacities that emerge at this stage of development, or it develops with distortions that impel it to compulsively and unsuccessfully seek mirroring and supportive self-objects for these manifestations of the self.

Stage-Specific Alienation from Essential Presence

Oedipal narcissism is a continuation of individuation narcissism, in the sense that it concerns the integration of further qualities and capacities of the self into the identity. We delineate it as a separate form of narcissism for two reasons. First, it originates in a distinctly separate development stage, the oedipal stage of psychosexual development, between the ages of three and six years. Second, we discriminate this form of narcissism because it involves alienation from the essential presence that arises at the oedipal stage, which is different from the quality of Personal Essence that dominates in the rapprochement phase of the separation-individuation process, and which is related to individuation narcissism.

The Self that is Realized when Oedipal Narcissism is Transformed

The last of our considerations concerns our main contribution to the understanding of oedipal narcissism. The self that is realized when oedipal narcissism is transformed is not the self patterned by the development of a psychic structure, accruing from experiences at the oedipal phase, as Kohut believes, but a specific essential form, a presence of Being inseparable from love and passion. We recognize ourselves as a presence that is full, sensuous, vigorous, vibrant, alive, erotic, flowing, beautiful, and youthful. We recognize ourselves as this quality by directly being this vigorous and passionate presence. The passionate love, the vigor and sensuousness, are not attributes of this sense of self; they are its very substance. One is a vigorous river of aliveness, passionately in love with life and truth. This river is an actuality, a tangy flow of presence, a consuming continuity of Being.

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