Title: Narcissism and impeded individuation


This presentation examines the question of why the pattern of narcissistic object-relating (collusion) develops early in life and how it may impact the lifelong process of individuation. The scope of the presentation is limited to the study of the narcissistic relational pattern, being a neurotic self-defense organization of the psyche, and its potential influence on the process of individuation. Narcissistic adult couple relationships are one of the arenas in which unresolved aspects of the past, alive in the present, are unconsciously brought and endlessly repeated with intensity. Adult relationships are often formed in the hope that both partners will wipe out their old wounds. However, despite apparent differences in overt social functioning, people unconsciously tend to select partners who are at the same basic level of personality differentiation, but who have opposite patterns of defensive organization. Primitive defences and projections, which are played out by the narcissistic couple, become a substitute for true identity. These dynamics inhibit the ability of the ego to gain access to the unconscious, and the Self to get access to the ego, disrupting the possibility of emergence of a dialogical relationship. This process creates obstacles to growth and individuation, which leads this author to suggest the notion of ‘impeded individuation’ in narcissism.


Karolina Nørby, M.Sc., M.A., (Denmark) is a Jungian Analyst who devotes her time between maintaining a busy analytical practice in Copenhagen and lecturing on the subjects of Jungian psychology and psychotherapy. Karolina’s main area of professional interest is the interface between western Jungian analytical psychology and the eastern practices of meditation and mindful presence. In her opinion, an integrative approach to mental healthcare, based on a combination of these two approaches, can address the profound need for a more in-depth and person-centred approach to modern mental healthcare.