Excerpts About Oral Narcissism
The Point of Existence, p. 383 • discuss »
The Point of Existence, p. 389 • discuss »
The Point of Existence, p. 393 • discuss »
The Point of Existence, p. 395 • discuss »
When this type of narcissism dominates a person’s structure, she will tend to manifest severe structural difficulties of the borderline kind. Intense oral rage and envy, as well as insatiable hunger for primitive forms of narcissistic supplies, are the external manifestations of the hidden, empty and powerless self.
The Point of Existence, p. 43 • discuss »
In other words, the self-structure of the narcissist consists of a pathological grandiose self that defends against, and compensates for, an underlying borderline weakness. So it is a specific form of borderline organization. Our view is that oral narcissism does include borderline weakness, but this is because it develops from the oral stage, which is characterized by primitive manifestations usually associated with borderline organizations, and not because it is a form of such organizations. However, this is a moot point because of the absence of differentiation in this developmental stage.
The Point of Existence, p. 384 • discuss »
In most of our students, the grandiose self that becomes exposed is not generally the major structure of the self. However, we do observe that if the work of inquiry progresses very deeply, each individual will eventually encounter oral narcissism with its intense envy, hate, hunger, devaluation, and rage. This does not ordinarily indicate a deep pathology, but reflects the fact that each self in the conventional dimension of experience—each self patterned by ego structures—is fundamentally narcissistic, and this narcissism always includes some degree of oral narcissism. The oral narcissism which arises in the process of spiritual development reflects fundamental narcissism in the oral stage and relates to the processes in the very early part of life which contributed to alienation of the self from its essential core. The intensity and the degree of uncontrollability of the arising manifestations depend on the degree of disturbance in early childhood, but the quality and flavor of these manifestations are common to all ego-selves. In general, it is difficult to penetrate and transform oral narcissism, and this difficulty does not depend only on the degree of disturbance. The primitive nature of the affects and object relations that emerge, the vagueness of experience and structure that reflect the undifferentiation of this early stage, and the deep compulsiveness of the impulses of this form of self, combine to make this work subtle, difficult, and of long duration.
The Point of Existence, p. 384 • discuss »
What we find is a group of object relations centered around powerful aggression, rage, and hatred on the one hand, and intense instinctual and animal-like devouring desire and wanting on the other. The student experiences herself as an instinctual animal organism, sometimes as an intensely emotional infant, and sometimes as a more primitive structure like a powerful and primitive animal—a leopard or panther. She feels either rageful and hateful, wanting to destroy the selfobjects that failed her, or she experiences a deep, lustful, powerful, and devouring hunger and wanting. The selfobject she perceives is either a person, a group, or the whole world. The hateful-destructive object relation is usually reversed at the beginning; so she first projects her power and hatred onto the object, feeling that she is small, weak, helpless, generally good, but paranoid and terrified of the all-bad powerful looming object. Transformation of this object relation through precise understanding of its meaning and etiology leads to the integration of the aspect of essential personal Power. One then experiences oneself imbued with natural power, an amazing fullness that feels both alive and forbidding. This is the power of the primal self of the oral stage, which was distorted by frustration of the attempt to gain the orally fulfilling narcissistic support and enhancement in early childhood. The other major object relation involved in oral narcissism is that of a hungry, libidinal, and devouring self, that feels full of life and vigor, passion and desire, uncontrollably wanting an object that appears to it full, luscious, yummy, and totally desirable. The resistance against this early oral object relation is due to the fear of destroying the object by devouring it, and deeper still, the fear of frustration in the event the libidinal object is unattainable. This resistance frequently appears as a defense against dependency, which manifests as devaluation of the object, and not feeling one’s neediness. Another form this resistance assumes is that of creating relationships in which the other experiences the narcissist as full and desirable but unavailable.
The Point of Existence, p. 386 • discuss »
This phenomenon clarifies in a very striking manner why narcissism is primarily a matter of connection to the self, and only secondarily a question of object relations. Why is it that when the self feels hungry and empty, due to oral deprivation, it resorts to narcissistic supplies to assuage this hunger? Why does the self try to fill its oral emptiness with supplies that are intended to shore up and enhance the sense of self? It would seem that if the emptiness is due to inadequacy of nourishment or love, it should seek these. But it does not; instead, it seeks tirelessly for feedback that will help it to feel a stable and cohesive sense of self, for interactions and situations that support its feeling like a whole and integrated self. Clearly, the emptiness is not the absence of nourishment, love or warmth, although the absence of these might be important in the genesis of this emptiness. The obvious conclusion is that deprivation and conflictual object relations in the oral stage affected the child in such a way that he lost his inner core. Early experiences of frustration and abandonment, lack of attunement and adequate support, or intrusiveness and hostility, disrupt the integrity of the child’s self in such a way that he loses his connection to his core. This loss of core is the specific narcissistic disruption. It is what accounts for the character of narcissistic strategies to regain connection to it.
The Point of Existence, p. 388 • discuss »
The self that emerges in the transformation of oral narcissism is a presence that feels whole and total. It feels like the presence of a total completeness of being ourselves. We feel a sense of purity, of clarity and lightness, that seems to exclude nothing. We feel as if all of what we are is present, but all comprising one indivisible whole. There are no parts; all of our feelings, thoughts, and movements appear as colorful manifestations within, and inseparable from, this pure and innocent presence. At the same time this presence has a deep sense of dynamism, as if it is in constant flow and transformation. This flow and transformation is the appearance of the changes in the manifestation of this presence. The self realized through the transformation of oral narcissism is a dynamic wholeness. It is the integrity of oneself that includes all of one’s qualities and dimensions of experience. The life of this presence is the flow of qualities of Essence, which emerge according to the demands of the situation, without being separate from the presence of wholeness. The wholeness of the primordial self implicitly includes all aspects of Essence, present in an undifferentiated way. The aspects differentiate sometimes in response to situations, but even when an aspect is manifesting explicitly, we feel whole and complete. The disruption of the self in the oral stage can best be described as the loss of wholeness. By losing contact with the primordial presence, the self loses the element responsible for a sense of wholeness. This loss is like the loss of the glue that maintains the cohesiveness of the experience of the self. This cohesiveness is not that of an ego structure, but of the primordial wholeness, where everything is an indivisible presence, that contains mind, but is not structured by it.
The Point of Existence, p. 392 • discuss »