Daniel ShawTraumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation

Routledge, 2013

by Christopher Bandini on January 28, 2015

Daniel Shaw

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Conventional psychoanalytic views of narcissism focus on familiar character traits: grandiosity, devaluation, entitlement and a lack of empathy. In his new book Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation (Routledge, 2013), Daniel Shaw explores narcissism from a relational perspective, concentrating on the effect that the traumatizing narcissist can have on others. Shaw defines the traumatizing narcissist as the parent of a child, a leader of a cult, a partner in a couple or others who abuse their power, use their charisma and knowledge of human nature to subjugate. This power dynamic can lead to maladaptive patterns such as compliance, dissociation and the taking on of the abusive behaviors of the narcissist by the  patient.

To elucidate his conceptualization, Shaw writes chapters on clinical theory, his practice with patients effected by narcissism and his own past history as a cult member. Shaw illustrates how the therapeutic relationship can be healing by helping the patient reclaim a sense of subjectivity that has been lost. Our interview concludes with an exploration of traumatizing narcissism in the psychoanalytic profession, both in the consulting room and the institute setting.

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