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Alcoholism, Narcissism, and Psychopathology (The Master Work Series) Paperback – November 1, 1994
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The narcissist - like other types of addicts - derives pleasure from these exploits. But they also sustain and enhance his grandiose fantasies as "unique", "superior", "entitled", and "chosen". They place him above the laws and pressures of the mundane and away from the humiliating and sobering demands of reality. They render him the center of attention - but also place him in "splendid isolation" from the madding and inferior crowd.
Such compulsory and wild pursuits provide a psychological exoskeleton. They are a substitute to quotidian existence. They afford the narcissist with an agenda, with timetables, goals, and faux achievements. The narcissist's addictive behaviors take his mind off his inherent limitations, inevitable failures, painful and much-feared rejections, and the grandiosity gap - the abyss between the image he projects (the False Self) and the injurious truth. They relieve his anxiety and resolve the tension between his unrealistic expectations and inflated self-image - and his incommensurate achievements, position, status, recognition, intelligence, wealth, and physique.
Thus, there is no point in treating the dependence and recklessness of the narcissist without first treating the underlying personality disorder. The narcissist's addictions serve deeply ingrained emotional needs. They intermesh seamlessly with the pathological structure of his disorganized personality, with his character faults, and primitive defense mechanisms.
Hence the importance of this book: it unflinchingly exposes the roots of alcoholism and attributes it to an identity disturbance, paranoia, sadomasochism and obsessive- compulsive disorders. The author's rich experience is evident in each and every page. A documentary treasure trove - if not a theoretical masterpiece. Sam Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited".
1) subscribes to a now questioned if not
discredited Freudian theory of infantile narcissim;
2) has very low standards of proof; apparently
supposing that repeated repetition amounts
to proof, when sometimes it isn't even adequate
3) has an editor who is asleep at the switch when
it comes to reducing florid redundancy; and
4) still has an essentially pathological view of
homosexuality and bisexuality, preventing him from
discerning homophobia as a form of paranoia (the
term 'homophobia' doesn't occur in discussions of
The good news is that he has a substantial
wealth of experience, including quite a lot of
military experience at which he obviously worked
hard and for which he presumably wasn't paid much.
He gives a convincing account of a combination of
orality, narcissism, and anger/rage that lying at
the foundation of alcoholism, and issues of
identity, paranoia, sadomasochism and obsessive-
compulsiveness as common superstructures. (I
would have put the obsessive-compulsive issue
closer to the foundation; but I don't have his
It would be a mistake to discount Forrest's
wealth of experience simply on the basis of his
dogmatically Freudian outlook. Much of the
substance of the work will survive translation
into other frames of reference--as is the case
with most good Freudian writing. I learned a lot
from it and found it fascinating reading.--
Jonathan Ketchum, PhD (Philosophy)