Definitions

NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITIES. These individuals are dominated by omnipotence, grandiosity and exhibitionist features. They become strongly invested in others and thus experience them as self-objects. In order top preserve this "special" relationship with their self-objects)(others), they tend to withdraw or isolate themselves by concentrating on perfection and power.

 

DEFINING NARCISSISTIC/BORDERLINE RELATIONSHIPS. These are two personality types who enter into a psychological "dance" who consciously or unconsciously stir up highly charged feelings that fulfills early unresolved conflicts in the other. The revelation is that each partner needs the other.

 

BORDERLINE PERSONALITIES. This term designates a defect in the maternal attachment bond to an over-concern with "other." Many have affixed the term "as if" personalities to them, for they tend to subjugate or compromise themselves. They question their sense of existence, suffer from acute abandonment anxiety, persecutory anxiety, and tend to merge with others in very painful ways in order to get a sense of bonding. Under close scrutiny and under stress, they distort, misperceive, have poor impulse control, and turn suddenly against self and others to attack, blame, find fault, and get even worse.

 

SCHIZOID PERSONALITY. The central features of the schizoid is their defenses of attachment, aloofness, and indifference to others. The schizoid, although difficult to treat, is usually motivated, unlike the passive-aggressive, but because of his detachment and aloofness lacks the capacity to achieve social and sexual gratification. A close relationship invites danger of being overwhelmed, suffocated for it may envision a relinquishing of his independence. The schizoid, differs from the Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder in that the Obsessive-Compulsive feels great discomfort with emotions, whereas the schizoid is lacking in the capacity, at least recognizes the need.. The schizoids differs from the narcissist in that they are self-sufficient, and self-contained. They do not experience or suffer the same feelings of loss borderlines and narcissists do. "Who me, I don't care, I have my work, my computer, etc.!"

 

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER. Passive aggressive personalities are often dependent, a product of sibling rivalry with avoidance aspects. The passive-aggressive typically procrastinates, puts things off to the last minute, feigns inefficiency, and invariably finds a conundrum of excuses why things were not accomplished. They claim others make unrealistic demands on them, especially in respect to authority, and defend against commitments by ineptness, forgetfulness, devaluing the importance of the task, and devaluing the needs of others. Their transgressions comprise of a plethora of reasons as to why things were not done. The passive aggressive stories of mishaps are endless, "Gee, honey the store was closed!" Decoded, the message is a form of projective identification says, "Now, I'm going to show you 'wife/ mommy' how it feels to be locked out/unfed!"

 

THE OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER. The obsessive compulsive abuser has difficulty completing tasks, become preoccupied with small tedious duties, have strict rules, obsessed with details, lists, and organization; will, for example, redo a schedule or a file to the extent of overlooking major tasks and to the exclusion of other. They make unreasonable demands, including perfection, have excessive devotion to work and productivity to the dismissal of leisure activities and family and social relations.

 

MIRRORING. This is a term devised by Heinz Kohut which describes the "gleam" in mother's eye which mirrors the child's exhibitionistic display and other forms of maternal participation in it. Mirroring is a specific response to the child's narcissistic-exhibitionist displays, confirming the child's self-esteem. Eventually, these responses channel into more realistic aims.

CONTAINMENT. This a term employed by Wilfred Bion as the interaction between the mother and the infant. Bion believed all psychological, universally dissolve when the mind acts as receiver of communicative content which the mother does in the state of reverie by using her own alpha function. It connotes the capacity for transformation of the data of emotional experience into meaningful feelings and thoughts. The mother's capacity to withstand the child's anger, frustrations, and intolerable feelings, becomes the container for these affects. This can occur if the mother can sustain intolerable behaviors long enough to decode or detoxify painful feelings into a more digestible form.

 

ENVY. Klein made a distinction between envy and jealousy. Envy is a part-object function, is not based on love. Melanie She considers envy to be the most primitive and fundamental emotion. It is a part object process that is not based on love, it exhausts their external objects, and is destructive in nature. Envy is destructive, possessive, controlling, and does not allow outside intruders in.

 

JEALOUSY. Jealousy, unlike envy, is a whole object relationship whereby one desires the object, but does not seek to destroy it or the Oedipal rival (father and siblings, those who take mother away. Jealousy has is based on love, has an Oedipal component, and is a triangular relationship. Jealousy, unlike envy, is based on love, wherein one desires to be part of the group, family, clan, nation. included in the group, the clan, the family. Jealousy has an Oedipal component, is based on love, and is a higher form of development than envy. It is a triangular relationship, in which one seeks the possession of the loved object and the removal of the rival.

 

SHAME. Shame is a matter between the person and his group or society, while guilt is primarily a matter between a person and his conscious. Shame is the defense against the humiliation for having needs which are felt to be dangerous and persecutory. Shame is associated with anticipatory anxiety and annihilation fantasies. "If I tell my boyfriend what I really need, he will abandon me!"

 

GUILT. Guilt is a higher form of development than shame. Guilt has an internal punitive voice which operates at the level superego (an internalized punitive harsh parental figure). There are two kinds of guilt: Valid guilt and invalid guilt.

 

WITHDRAWAL VS. DETACHMENT. Detachment should not be confused with withdrawal. Withdrawal is actually a healthier state because it maintains a certain libidinal attachment to object. When one detaches, one splits off and goes into a state of despondency. Children who are left alone, ignored, neglected for over long periods of time enter into a phase of despair (Bowlby). The child’s active protest for the missing or absent mother gradual diminishes when the child no longer makes demands. When this occurs the infant goes into detachment mode or pathological mourning. Apathy, lethargy, and listlessness the become the replacement for feelings (anger, rage, betrayal, abandonment).

 

SUPEREGO. The literature refers to different kinds of superegos. The Freudian view depicts an introjected whole figure, a parental voice, or image which operates from a point of view of morality, telling the child how to follow the rules, and what happens they don't. Many theorists have confirmed the precursors of Freud's superego formation as coexisting with the "do, don'ts, ought's, and should's," and represents child's compliance and conformity with a strong parental figures. Freud's superego does into concretely refer to a little man inside a person, but rather a fantasy of an introjected, strong, prohibitive, parental figure. Freud's superego is the internalized image which continues to live inside the child's life controlling, or punishing the child whenever it's Oedipal wishes make themselves known. This is in contrast to Klein's primitive superego, which is more persecutory and hostile, in nature, and invades the psyche as an unmentalized experience.

Freud's superego concerns itself with moral judgment, what people think. Klein's superego centers around the shame and humiliation for having needs, thoughts, and feelings that are felt to be dangerous internal mysterious saboteurs.

 

MANIC DEFENSES. The experience is excitement (mania) is to offset feelings of despair, loss, anxiety, and vulnerability. Manic defenses evolve from the depressive position as a defense against depressive anxiety, guilt and loss. They are based on omnipotent denial of psychic reality, and object relations, characterized by mass degree of triumph, control and hostility. Some manic defenses work in the ego.

 

PERSECUTORY ANXIETY. The part of the psyche that threatens and terrifies the patient. It relates to what Klein has referred to as the primitive superego, an undifferentiated state which continually warns the patient of eminent danger (mostly unfounded). Paranoid anxiety is a feature associated with the death instinct and is more persecutory in nature. The implies the kind of anxiety from the primitive superego is more explosive and volatile that from the more developed superego.

 

SELF PSYCHOLOGY. Heinz Kohut revolutionized analytic thinking when he introduced this new psychology of the self which stresses the patient's subjective experience and considers the patient's "reality." The patient's reality, unlike object relations, is not considered as a distortion or as a projection, but rather as the patient's truth." It is the patient's experience that is considered utmost importance. Self psychology with its emphasis on the empathic mode implies that the narcissistic personality is more susceptible to classical interpretations, and recognition of splitting and projects are virtually non-existent among self psychologist.

 

OBJECT RELATIONS. Object relations is a theory of unconscious internal object relations in a dynamic interplay with current interpersonal experience. The analysis of internal objects centers between the interaction of a lost early object relations, a splitting of the ego into two parts (1) a realistic ego, part of the person more fully aware of his experiences, feelings and ideas, and (2) a more regressed or split off part of the ego where the identification with the object is so intense that one looses the self. An intrapsychic approach to understanding internal intrapsychic and internal conflict, including the patients, distortion, delusions, and misperceptions. This is a technique which analyses projections, introjections, fantasies and split-off aspects of the self to enhance healthier functioning in an interpersonal world.

 

Object relations is a psychodynamic theory based on how one relates and interacts with others in the external world. It is a theory of unconscious internal objects which compels a person to form a specific dynamic interaction or attachment. Object relations differs from Freudian theory in that it is an interpersonal theory which helps explain why people cannot adapt even when the environment good and nurturing. Klein taught us how we relate to others through the lenses reflecting the child's world through fantasy as she developed the notion of projective identification. Klein believed the first form of anxiety is persecutory, that the environment that although the environment can it does not originate the baby's primary anxieties and inner conflicts. Klein developed the idea of pathological splitting of "good and "bad" objects through the defensive process of projection and introjection in relation to primitive anxiety and the death instinct (based on biology). Object relations in one of the most powerful theories that examines unconscious fantasies/motivations and reflecting how a person can distort reality projecting and identifying with bad objects.

 

SELF OBJECTS. This is a term devised by Heinz Kohut, the forerunner of self psychology, a term used to refer to an interpersonal process whereby the analyst provides basic functions for the patient. These functions are used to make up for failures in the past by caretakers who were lacking in mirroring, empathic attunement, and had faulty responses with their children. Kohut reminds us that psychological disturbances are caused by failures from idealized objects , and patient may need self objects who provide good mirroring responses the rest of their lives.

 

THE “V” SPOT. This is a new concept I devised known in psychoanalytic terms as the archaic injury. The “V” spot is the epicenter of the most vulnerable area of emotional sensitivity, a product of early trauma that each partner holds onto and unwittingly arouses in the other. With it comes the loss of sensibility. As soon as things gets shaken everything shifts like an earthquake (memory, perception, judgment, distortion of reality).

 

PART OBJECTS. The first relational unit is the feeding experience with the mother, and the infant's relation to the breast. It is the first part-object unit initiating both oral-libidinal and oral-destructive impulses. Klein believed the breast is the child's first possession, but because it is so desired, it also becomes the source of the infant's envy, greed, and hatred, and therefore susceptible to the infant's fantasized attacks. The infant internalizes the mother as good or bad or more specifically as a "part object" (a "good breast" or "bad breast"). As the breast is felt to contain a great part of the infant's death instinct (persecutory anxiety), it simultaneously establishes libidinal forces, giving way to the baby's first ambivalence. One part of the mother is loved and idealized, while the other is destroyed by the infant's oral, anal, sadistic, or aggressive impulses. In clinical terms Klein referred to this as pathological splitting. Here is parent is not seen as a whole object rather as a function for what that parent can provide e.g., in infancy the breast, in later life, later money, material objects, etc. "I only love women who have big breasts!"

 

WHOLE OBJECTS. The beginning of the depressive position is marked by the infant's awareness of his mother as a "whole object." As the infant matures, and as verbal expression increases, he achieves more cognitive ability, and acquires the capacity to love her as a separate person and begins to view her as a person with separate needs, feelings and desires. This newly acquired concern for his objects helps him integrate and gradually learn to control his impulses, and thus the budding signs of reparation. As the infant's development continues, there is a lessening of persecutory anxiety and a diminution of splitting mechanisms. Guilt and jealousy become the replacement for shame and envy. Ambivalence and guilt are experienced and tolerated in relation to whole objects. One no longer seeks to destroy it or the Oedipal rival (father and siblings, those who take mother away), but can begin to live amicably with them side by side.

 

INTERNAL OBJECTS. An intrapsychic process whereby unconscious fantasies are split off and projected. Internal objects emanate from part of the ego that have been introjected. When they are felt to be persecutory, threatening or dangerous they are denounced, split off and projected. Klein believed that the infant can internalized good "objects" the "good breast." or if the infant perceives the world has bad and dangerous, the infant internalizes the "bad breast."

 

REPARATION. The desire for the ego to restore an injured loved object by coming to terms with one's own guilt and ambivalence. the process of reparation begins in the depressive position, and starts when one develops the capacity to mourn, and to tolerate and contain the feelings loss, guilt.

 

PARANOID SCHIZOID POSITION. The paranoid schizoid position is a fragmented position in which thoughts and feelings are split off and projected because the psyche cannot tolerate the feelings of pain, emptiness, loneliness , rejection, humiliation, or ambiguity. This position was viewed by Klein as the earliest phase of development, is part-object functioning, and the beginning of the primitive superego (undeveloped). If the child views mother as a "good breast." the child will maintain good warm and hopeful feelings about the environment. It, on the other hand, the infant experiences mother as a "bad breast," the child is more likely to experience the environment as bad, attacking and persecutory. Klein, more than any of her followers, understood the need for the mother and the breast as of primary importance.

 

DEPRESSIVE POSITION. This is a term devised by Melanie Klein, to describe a state of mourning and sadness. It is in this state where integration and reparation takes place, not everything is seen in terms of black and while. There is more tolerance, guilt, remorse, self doubt, frustration, pain, confusion. One is more responsible for one's action. There is the realization of the reality of not what things should be, but they way they are, that there is a "no breast." As verbal expression increases, one may feel sadness, but one also feels a newly regained sense of aliveness.

 

PROJECTIVE IDENTIFICATION. This is probably the most influential Kleinian concept and is gaining more and more popularity. Counter-transference is an aspect of projective identification where the patient splits off an wanted aspect of the self, and puts into the therapist, and the therapist identifies or over-identifies with that which is being projected.. It is a psychic mechanism whereby the self experiences the unconscious defensive mechanism whereby the self translocates itself into the other. Under the influence of projective identification, one becomes vulnerable to the coercion, manipulation or control of the person doing the projecting. This is more complex in conjoint treatment because the projector also splits- of an unacceptable or undesirable part of the self into their partner. The projector can then feel. "It's not me, it's him/her. In a perceptive therapist, interrogating the counter-transference leads to a fruitful interpretation.

 

SINGLE AND DUAL PROJECTIVE IDENTIFICATION) AS IT PERTAINS TO CONJOINT TREATMENT. In single projective identification, one does in take in the other person's projections by identifying with that which is being projected. In dual projective identification, both partners take in the projection of the other, and forms an identification with a certain aspect of the self, the split off part of the ego. Thus one may project guilt while the other projects shame. "You should be ashamed of yourself for being so needy! When you're so needy, I feel guilty!"

 

Defining Narcissistic / Borderline Relationships. These are two personality types who enter into a psychological "dance" who consciously or unconsciously stir up highly charged feelings that fulfills early unresolved conflicts in the other. The revelation is that each partner needs the other to play out his or hers own personal relational drama. Within these beleaguered relationships are developmentally arrested people who bring archaic experiences embedded in old sentiments into their current relationships.

 

 

BOOKS OVERVIEW

Dr. Joan Lachkar is the author of numerous published books and articles including The Narcissistic / Borderline Couple, How to talk to a Narcissist, How to Talk to a Borderline, Common Complaints that Bring Couples into Therapy, and Courts Beware of the Borderline. For more, visit our Books section for more details and to order.