The Empathic Reader: A Study of the Narcissistic Character and the Drama of the Self

The Empathic Reader: A Study of the Narcissistic Character and the Drama of the Self

The Empathic Reader: A Study of the Narcissistic Character and the Drama of the Self

The Empathic Reader: A Study of the Narcissistic Character and the Drama of the Self

Excerpt

This book is an application of American psychoanalytic theorist Heinz Kohut's "self psychology" and empathic listening techniques to a study of the narcissistic character and the reader/text transaction. It grows out of my fascination with literature and with the very human story that Kohut tells as he describes the dynamics of what is considered by many to be the dominant pathology of our time: the narcissistic disorder. Illuminating in a powerful new way the disconnected lives of increasing numbers of people, Kohut centers his attention on fundamental aspects of human behavior which other accounts of psychological man and woman ignore or minimize: the deep-rooted needs for empathic responsiveness and for a sense of connection with others.

We can hear hints and guesses of this story in comments made by patients suffering from the narcissistic disorder. "[W]hen I am alone, I eat up myself," one such patient tells his analyst. "When you talk," he admits, "I rise in ecstasy, I don't take it in; the ecstasy is that you are talking about me and when you are right, such elation!" "I'm just all out of contact with everything," says another to his analyst. "Please say something to me." "I wonder what I look like in your eyes," comments another. "It's a great truth that when I lack a certain type of stimulation I get terrified." "If I perceive you as becoming uninterested, I lose my complete sense of wholeness . . .," yet another realizes. "When I am talking with a need to talk, there's got to be a listener" (Goldberg . . .

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