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Antinarcissism

ANTINARCISSISM

The concept of antinarcissism was proposed by Francis Pasche in 1964. The context was a theoretical debate seeking initially to define narcissism and then to describe its role in psychic development.

The difficulties, complexities, and, for some, the aporias of narcissism led to two antithetical choices. Some abandoned the notion of primary narcissism, giving a fundamental role to the primary object-relation (this was true of the English school, Michael Balint, and John Bowlby). Others, like Paul Federn and Béla Grunberger, were led to separate narcissism from the libido. This, it seemed to them, was necessary in order to account for the ubiquity of narcissism in mental life. But this was not the opinion of Francis Pasche, who chose to reintroduce a duality, or even a dialectic, into the concept of narcissism itself (1965).

Both narcissism and antinarcissism were characterized for Pasche by an object and a direction. The object was the same for both: the ego. The direction, however, was not the same: centripetal for narcissism, centrifugal for antinarcissism. Antinarcissism could be thought of as a centrifugal investment, in which the subject tends to be divested of the self, to give up their own substance and reserves of love, and to do this independently of any economic factors. In this sense, anti-narcissism is actually a manifestation of Thanatos, that is, of unbinding separation and dispersion, but not of aggressiveness.

There is a striking convergence between Francis Pasche's conception of antinarcissism and what Sándor Ferenczi called, in his final writings, the "altruistic drive" (1949, fragment dated 24 August 1930).

André Green's work on narcissism is also germane here. Even if Green's negative narcissism does not correspond precisely to Pasche's antinarcissism, the two notions are akin.

MichÈle Bertrand

See also: Narcissistic neurosis; Pasche, Francis Léopold Philippe; Psychoanalytic family therapy;

Bibliography

Ferenczi, Sándor. (1949). Notes and fragments (1930-32). International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 30, 231-242.

Pasche, Francis. (1965). L'anti-narcissisme. Revue française de psychanalyse. XXIX, 5-6: 503-518; reprinted inÀ partir de Freud, Paris: Payot, 1969.

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