The narcissistic perversion


The concept of «narcissistic perversion» (NP) explains a functioning that manifests itself in very different ways, with its pathological nature often going unnoticed, both in mental health and related fields (medical specialties, social services, justice, education). The interest of knowing and identifying NP is that, inadvertently, it causes pathologies in others. As we shall see, it is primarily these others who can benefit from this knowledge.

This concept was formulated by the French psychoanalyst Racamier from the observation of families with a member suffering from a mental pathology and has been developed mainly by French authors (Bergeret, Eiguer, Hirigoyen). Functioning has been observed by other authors, although it has been conceptualised differently or included in other known psychopathological entities.

Narcissistic perversion, malignant narcissism, prepsychosis, defensive reaction, porcupine fable

[Automatic translation from Spanish]:

Racamier concluded that NP is not a psychopathological entity in itself, but a defensive reaction triggered by an internal threat, in this case, of annihilation, of «not being».

This categorisation has, in addition to its theoretical value, a great clinical implication because it indicates that NP can go unnoticed or remain largely inactive for long periods of life. It is therefore activated by certain events, mainly bereavement, which bring these anxieties to the surface. However, it is worth asking whether this reaction can occur in any structure or only in some structures that may harbour a latent pathological core.

In French psychoanalytic psychopathology, we find the notion of «prepsychosis», within the group of borderline states, which seems to explain some of the most significant aspects of NP. Jean Bergeret (1974) defined it as «non-decompensated psychotic structures and other non-psychotic organisations which may eventually evolve into true psychosis» (1974:175). As their name indicates, they are situated on the borderline of psychosis without having its structure properly speaking, but may occasionally function like it, indicating that one of the developmental processes has not been fully realised, as we will see below. […]

Pere Llovet
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