Sunday, December 18, 2011

the narcissist and masochist- a summary II

Some work with a new patient helped me to make a more symmetrical definition of the four positions.

Freud introduced loving and being loved as an opposition that I've put under the rubric of masochism (see the first post for the explanation) and he also differentiated narcissism from narcissistic object choice. However, the latter seems to better to explain homosexual object choice and doesn't capture the relation that seems key 1.

In being loved the individual wants to cause delight in the other and experience his or her approval and feel special (be more loveable than others).

In narcissism I think the binary of conquer and be conquered is the best way to capture what's at stake. To 'be conquered' explains the narcissistic behaviour of the woman who doesn't answer phone calls, who makes the man have to work hard to spend time with her, and who wants to be the cause of his desire 2. This patient seems to have had the bad luck of attracting a man's attention but in setting an obstacle course for him to prove his desire in claiming her, the man would give up. Such a woman has narcissism about her value as an object to a subject. In some cases this value might be so high that no man is a worthy conqueror and I think this describes the situation of the taboo of virginity in Freud in which the woman's aggression is feared and an elder or someone of high or special status is called to deflower her.

1. I've had the luck to see a homosexual patient briefly and he was very candid in the requirement of his love object resembling him as much as possible in both appearance and intellect. Freud writes that object choice

(1) According to the narcissistic type [is]:

(a) what he himself is (i.e. himself),

(b) what he himself was,

(c) what he himself would like to be,

(d) someone who was once part of himself. (On Narcissism, p.90)

Maybe C could be the basis for the object narcissist but doing so doesn't capture the interaction between the subject and object that I'm drawing attention to.

2. In Lacanian terms jouissance might be more apt here. One patient's girlfriend forbade him to look pornography because he couldn't find her attractive if he watched the "skinny sluts" there.

This is an addition to the post


  1. Would your object narcissist patient benefit from a subject narcissist man who would relish the challenges set before him as a means of proving his own worth? Or does the subject narcissist expect everything to come to him easily?
    Also, is conquer/ be conquered meant to replace love/ be loved? I thought they were separate binaristic trait sets?

  2. It's not meant to replace it.

    I think the narcissist, as a structure built around power being located in the self, would better understand what is going on and not interpret the space between him and his sexual object as meaning a wounding disinterest on her part.

    Nothing is being replaced. Previously I didn't have a distinction like loving-being loved under the narcissism category but I explained the subject and object relation of both.

    There is narcissism and masochism and this is further split into

    narcissism: subject-conquer object- be conquered

    masochism: subject-love object- be loved

  3. Again, you echo Bersani (echoing Freud) in The Freudian Body--that all love is masochism: “sexuality would not be originally an exchange of intensities between individuals, but rather a condition of broken negotiations with the world, a condition in which others merely set off the self-shattering mechanisms of masochistic jouissance.”