Excerpt About Oral Narcissism

Alienation of the Self from Its Essential Core

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.

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