chapter  9
6 Pages

Clinical facts about narcissism

Let us follow Freud who, in his paper 'On Narcissism', advised us that speculative or theoretical 'ideas are not the foundation of science, upon which everything rests: that foundation is observation alone. They are not the bottom but the top of the whole structure, and they can be replaced and discarded without damaging it' ('On Narcissism', Standard Edition, XIV, p. 77). Following this advice let us examine the clinical observations that Freud used to prove the existence of narcissism in his paper of 1914. The defenders of the theory will first say, as did Freud, that clinical observations can neither prove nor disprove primary narcissism since it is only a theory; then they, as did Freud, give clinical observations to make the theory acceptable. My intention in this chapter is to show that the observations on which Freud, and after him the theoreticians, based the hypothesis of primary narcissism prove only the existence of secondary narcissism. A theory of primary narcissism can be attached to them, but does not follow from them.