chapter  14
17 Pages

Disavowed Narcissism: Fusion and Externalizing Defenses in the Closet Narcissistic Disorder of the Self

Ms. M. came in seeking treatment for inhibited sexual desire. She was unable to identify her own sexual longings, rhythm, or style. Instead, she found herself responding to her husband's initiatives with unpleasant feelings of obligation. Her treatment is now in its fourth year, and, from this vantage point, it is clear how pervasive her presenting problem was in her life. Many of her relationships were characterized by inhibition, with self-expression stifled to the point of severe impairment in her ability to manage herself in the presence of others. Her work took on similar overtones, leaving her feeling depleted and used up. Seeing herself as ill equipped to succeed in the mainstream business world, Ms. M. had gone into business for herself, yet she did not enjoy her work, often concluding her four-hour day feeling exhausted and inadequate. Encounters with clients were anticipated with distaste and conducted with discomfort. Referrals declined; income dwindled.