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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1989 Sep;12(3):541-42.

Narcissism and masochism. The narcissistic-masochistic character.

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  • 1Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York.


Our knowledge of narcissism has advanced hugely during the past two decades. Our interest in masochism as a theoretic and clinical entity has only begun to gather momentum. Developmentally and clinically, narcissistic and masochistic pathology are so intertwined that their theoretic and clinical unraveling requires specific attention to their linkage and the predictable forms of response to interpretation. It is therefore useful to think of the narcissistic-masochistic character as a clinical entity. In this condition, pathologic narcissistic tendencies are unconscious vehicles for attaining masochistic disappointment; and masochistic injuries are an affirmation of distorted narcissistic fantasies. Consistent interpretation of these conflicts and defenses, in the usual setting of benign empathic understanding, is desirable for the treatment of these patients.

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