Healthy narcissism is a structural truthfulness of the self, achievement of self and object constancy, synchronization between the self and the superego and a balance between libidinal and aggressive drives (the ability to receive gratification from others and the drive for impulse expression).
Healthy narcissism forms a constant, realistic self-interest and mature goals and principles and an ability to form deep object relations. A feature related to healthy narcissism is the feeling of greatness.
This is used to avoid feelings of inadequacy or insignificance.
A required element within normal development
Healthy narcissism might exist in all individuals. Freud says that this is an original state from the individual from where to develop the love object.
Freud argues that healthy narcissism is an essential part in normal development. In pathological narcissism such as the narcissistic personality disorder and schizophrenia, the person’s libido has been withdrawn from objects in the world and produces megalomania.
The clinical theorists Kernberg, Kohut and Millon all see pathological narcissism as a possible outcome in response to unempathic and inconsistent early childhood interactions.
They suggested that narcissists try to compensate in adult relationships. The pathological condition of narcissism is, as Freud suggested, a magnified, extreme manifestation of healthy narcissism.
With regard to the condition of healthy narcissism, it is suggested that this is correlated with good psychological health. Self-esteem works as a mediator between narcissism and psychological health.
Therefore, because of their elevated self-esteem, deriving from self-perceptions of competence and likability, high narcissists are relatively free of worry and gloom.
Other researchers suggested that healthy narcissism cannot be seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad’; however, it depends on the contexts and outcomes being measured. In certain social contexts such as initiating social relationships, and with certain outcome variables, such as feeling good about oneself, healthy narcissism can be helpful.
In other contexts, such as maintaining long-term relationships and with other outcome variables, such as accurate self-knowledge, healthy narcissism can be unhelpful.
Solan's healthy narcissism
In Ronnie Solan's view, healthy narcissism represents the functioning of narcissism as an emotional-immune system for safeguarding the familiarity and the well-being of the individual against invasion by foreign sensations (1998).
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011