Freud and narcissism: Developing links for inclusion of the 'object'

Manasi Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The problematic of narcissism in the way Freud visualized forces us to acknowledge the dualism of drives inside the subject; the object relations theory then builds up on the inherent need and the structuring potential of the object. The paper traces the growth of this concept in Freud's thinking in a bid to show how the object's otherness is not fully metabolized within the Freudian corpus. On the other hand, recent criticisms of object relations theory point to the perfunctory role ascribed to Freud's most radical discovery of the dualism of drives. Winnicott, Laplanche and Green have all developed theories that have provided pertinent rejoinders to the problematic of narcissism and object relations. The paper discusses how deconstructing and "going back over Freud" helps us to redefine object relations and give the drive functioning due importance. Hence the main thesis of the paper - that of narcissism - reveals the decentered subject's tussle with itself and with the alienness emanating from the object's otherness. If used creatively, ideas such as "otherness", "objectalizing function" and Green's conceptualization of the clinical significance of negative and positive narcissism then seek to enrich the theorization on narcissism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-93
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Forum of Psychoanalysis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Coupled drive-object relation
  • Fort da
  • Green
  • Narcissism
  • Object usage
  • Otherness
  • Winnicott


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