NARCISSISM: Denial of the True Self by

NARCISSISM: Denial of the True Self

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Though, as in previous books, neo-Reichian analyst Lowen argues the special benefits of his ""bioenergetics"" approach to therapy, this is a relatively traditional, only slightly non-Freudian discussion of narcissistic disorders--with case-histories, dense (but usually clear) technical theorizing, some original terminology, and a few attempts at cultural generalizations à la Christopher Lasch. Narcissists don't love themselves: they love an idealized image of the self, having lost the actual self-image--as a result of childhood humiliation, ""horror,"" over-stimulation, inadequate nurturing, and/or a fear of insanity (caused by suppressed anger). The result is a denial of feeling, manipulative behavior toward others, depression (rather than anxiety or hysteria). And, though Lowen doesn't underestimate the value of understanding these etiologies, his case-histories usually involve the benefits of bioenergetics' physical/exercise aspect: ""By getting her to breathe deeply so that the respiratory movements involved the pelvis, both her sadness and her sexuality could be experienced and expressed."" Lowen offers a few exercises for reader use; he makes some half-plausible connections between the prevalence of pathological narcissism and the state of Western culture; most plainly, if unoriginally, he warns that ""career mothers don't have the time to do the job of mothering that children need."" Still, most of this is for professionals rather than laymen: one of Lowen's more convincing theoretical frameworks, only occasionally slipping into narrow jargon or excessive reliance on his intensely body/genital view of human behavior.

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 1983
Publisher: Macmillan