Critical Approaches

As Freud writes in such a literary style, but his topic is scientific, critics have generally been concerned with his theories and content of the book rather than his style per se. The psychodynamic theory has not been free from criticism. The main problem it has faced is that of a lack of rigorous empirical support, which modern day science values much more.

With particular reference to this work, it is obviously disputed by Jung and Adler and their followers, however the main problems have concerned the fact that controversies are bedevilled by ambiguities and unnecessarily new metapsychological constructs.

Ellis (1898) first used the term narcissism in relation to psychological phenomena, describing it as a special state of auto-erotism as Narcissus like, in which sexual feelings become absorbed in self-admiration. Freud's subsequent concept of narcissism as a sexual perversion, prompted several psychological theories which try to explain and treat the narcissistic phenomenon.

The most comprehensive psychological theories have been advanced by the psychodynamic perspective and to a lesser extent the Jungian (analytical) perspective. Essentially both theories cite developmental problems in childhood as leading to the development of the narcissistic disorder. The existential school has also attempted to deal with the narcissistic problem, although the available literature is much smaller. Existentialists postulate that society as a whole can be the crucial factor in the development of narcissism. The final perspective to be noted is the humanistic approach that although lacking a specific theory on narcissism, can nevertheless be applied to the narcissistic disorder, though in many ways it echoes the psychodynamic approach.

The psychodynamic approach (initiated by Freud) then became dominated by two overlapping schools of thought - the self-psychology school (represented by Kohut) - that narcissism is a part of everyone's psyche, and the object psychology school (represented by Kernberg) rather that narcissism represents a fixation in one of the developmental periods of childhood.

Finally others such as Van Spruiell (1975) propose that a genetic view may be able to take into account these apparently incompatible observations, and utilize rather than seek a compromise between them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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