Commentary on Marohn’s “Rage Without Content” and Ornstein’s “Chronic Rage from Underground”
Marohn’s concerns about early disruptions in the development of the self that lead to psychoeconomic imbalance and to states such as “contentless rage” direct our attention to a central and difficult issue in the theory of self psychology. While acknowledging that “not all injury leads to narcissistic r a g e ” and also that some behaviors associated with psychoeconomic imbalances have “ n o content or psychodynamic meanings,” Marohn maintains that it is always the self-selfobject dimension that is at the crux of the matter, regardless. In other words, he asserts (and, to be fair, so do a number of others), first, that the relevant level of damage is always this interpersonal aspect, that a psychoeconomic imbalance is always a product of the relationship with the therapist, and, second, that its treatment always involves the empathic repair of the “break” that led to the imbalance. Even in instances of what he calls “contentless r age” we must presume that at its root lies an empathic break in the relationship with the therapist. This view is maintained despite his own emphasis on the enormous developmental variation in the genesis of narcissistic rage-for example, from “primitive” to “structured”—and his citation of several clinical examples that suggest a broad range in meanings and significance of rageful experience.