SIN AND MADNESS: Studies in Narcissism by Shirley G. Sugerman

SIN AND MADNESS: Studies in Narcissism

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KIRKUS REVIEW

To some degree, everyman is Narcissus"": Dr. Sugerman (religion, Drew) makes a forceful, absorbing case for the classic myth of destructive self-love as paradigmatic of the human predicament. Religious traditions West and East and psychoanalysis--the ancient wisdom in modern idiom--agree that we all need to be freed from the trap of egocentric consciousness. Born incomplete and insecure, we each have to become the self that we are; we tend naturally to identify that self with egoistic interests and to protect our fragile ego from the risk of a larger self-transcending realization (love, faith); a vicious cycle ensues, alienating us from our true potential and our real situation; what seems self-love ends up self-hate, destructive to oneself and others. Whether we call this pathology the ""sickness unto death"" of sin (Kierkegaard) or the mad common sense of the modern ""divided self"" (Laing) or ignorance of unity with the whole (Hinduism), only seeing and confessing it rescues one from the hell of willful isolation. The various religions and analytic techniques mount ingenious strategies to untie the knot of narcissism and let the true self emerge. Occasionally opaque, sometimes repetitive, but overall an excellent elaboration of a seminal idea.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1976
Publisher: Westminster