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The Culture of Narcissism Revisited: Transformations of Narcissism in Contemporary Psychospirituality

Abstract

In this paper, I trace the debate over narcissism in deinstitutionalized and heavily psychologized spiritualities. First, I summarize how Sigmund Freud’s discussion with Romain Rolland about the “oceanic feeling” established the classical psychoanalytic view of mysticism as a regression to primary narcissism. Second, I review how Heinz Kohut’s radical reconceptualization of narcissism has played a seminal role in socio-cultural interpretations of modern psychologized spirituality. Third, I explore how a contemporary psychospiritual tradition, A.H. Almaas’s Diamond Approach, details the relationship between narcissism and mysticism. Finally, I reflect on the benefits of a dialogical approach between psychoanalysis and spirituality arguing that the types of integrative psychospirituality envisioned by Romain and developed more fully by Almaas have the potential to facilitate the mature transformation of narcissism.

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Correspondence to Ann Gleig.

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Gleig, A. The Culture of Narcissism Revisited: Transformations of Narcissism in Contemporary Psychospirituality. Pastoral Psychol 59, 79–91 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-009-0207-9

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Keywords

  • Narcissism
  • Psychospirituality
  • Spirituality
  • Mysticism