How to Love a Narcissist

Susan E. Schwartz

We explore Jung’s concepts of narcissism and its appearance in the ‘as-if’ personality who struggles to connect to self and others. Intimacy is compromised, wanted yet feared. Although the person appears enticing and confident, the inner life is marked by perfectionism, emotional distance and dissociation. Through dreams and composite people examples, we explore why these people are in our lives and where in our psyche we are in the throes of narcissism rather than self-love. We will consider unfinished areas of the personality originating from early trauma, emotional neglect, and negative parental complexes adversely affecting confidence. Such areas promote idealization of others and destroy initiative while feeding an internalized cycle of self-hatred, oppression and envy. How can we accept life with its creative as well as aging process and find self-love? More details.

The Myth of Narcissus

We first explore the make-up of the puella/puer, that archetype of perennial youth prevalent in the Western world. The intense energy and appeal of the puella/puer often masks a more fragile personality, unrealistic, fantasy driven, easily dissembled, immature and untouched. This person lives an ‘as-if’ life, blocked by a persona adaptation from accessing basic instincts. Jungian psychology is founded on the recognition that the splits in the psyche face us with questions of how we relate to otherness both within and without. Looking into the mirror as Narcissus does, we find ourselves, sometimes with pleasure and sometimes with a touch of horror. Could this be me? This mirror holds the shadow that we encounter, as did Narcissus. Will we take his route? Will we ignore the feminine form of Echo? The experience of this myth, as enacted in the classical Jungian style, will take us down personal pathways and collective avenues. Discussion with the myth as template encourages a deepening into what we know and also have yet to discover about ourselves and relationship to others. More details.

Susan E. Schwartz, Ph.D., is a Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist graduated from the Jung Institute in Kusnacht. She is a member of the International Association of Analytical Psychology and has taught through them for several years, developing group programs in Poland and South Africa. She gives workshops and lectures in the U.S. and around the world. Susan has articles in various journals and chapters in several books on Jungian psychology, and she is currently writing a book for Routledge on absent fathers and their effect on daughters. She has a private practice in Jungian Analytical Psychology in Paradise Valley, AZ. Her website is: www.susanschwartzphd.com