The grandiose character, primary type.Psychoanal Rev. 1995 Apr; 82(2):293-311.PR
In this article I have elucidated the diagnostic entity of the grandiose character, primary type. The concept of the primary grandiose character has been around for a long time but has not been formally elucidated. The primary grandiose character is contrasted to the reactive grandiose character, which is the type normally considered in the literature. The primary grandiose character is someone who was treated with such anticipation and succor by the parents that he learned to feel no way but good and to demand succor when he did not feel good. The reactive grandiose character is someone who originally moderated his primary grandiosity but re-intensified it in order to defend against later appearing pain, particularly of a narcissistic sort. The primary grandiose character develops a large array of fears and depressions as he learns little developmentally except how to demand. In the face of these increasing anxieties and depressions, he simply demands more and more. When he appears in treatment, he shows himself as an anxiety- and depression-ridden individual, with a strong need for help (succor). The analyst tries to help with the anxieties and depressions but the treatment goes round and round because the patient does not cathect the observing function of his own ego, only that of the analyst's ego: the analyst is to know what is wrong (observe it) and fix it. When the analyst does not fix it (although he might, for a while, observe it), the analysand's grandiose rage breaks through and he shows himself for what he is, a grandiose character, primary type. Now the task is clear but the treatment formidable. The analysand must come to observe that he is grandiose and that he has foresworn the observing function. This process, which comprises a major portion of the working through, is replete with grandiose rage, working through, grandiose rage, and working through. Ultimately the patient discovers the great strength that comes from decreased reliance on the observing ego of others and increased reliance on his own observing ego. A number of diagnostic entities and clinical behaviors are shown to have a primary grandiose base. And rather than some of these depending upon repression as the basic defense, it would seem that they depend on a pre-stage of repression, akin to the concept of biological irritability. The concepts of secondary grandiosity, partial grandiosity, and developmental grandiosity are natural corollaries to the concept of primary grandiosity.