On Narcissism and Masochism in the Fetus and the Neonate

Issue: 
Publication Date: 
10/1990
Page Count: 
8
Starting Page: 
87
Price: $10.00
Abstract: 

The development of narcissism and masochism is examined by utilizing new data from movement observation, in general, and from observations and notation of fetal movement, in particular. This has led to the recognition that fetal movements are motor precursors of psychic functioning. The suggestion is made that both narcissism and masochism have their Anlage in utero. Because the fetus primarily grows and achieves progressive integration, the ratio between his integration and self-destruction favors the former. The birth struggle occasions a breach of integration which sways the balance in favor of masochism at birth. Primary narcissism, the psychic reflection of growth in the total organism, comes to a peak in various phases of growth. Each developmental crisis which occurs in transition between one phase and the next is marked by a decline of narcissism; its reappearance occurs when a new growth of organs or functions comes to a peak. Some relevant psychoanalytic theories and fetal movement studies are cited. A vocabulary of the Kestenberg movement categories is briefly explained in order to help envisage the relationship of movement patterns to psychic development.

References: 

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Judith S. Kestenberg, M.D. & Estelle Horowitz, Ph.D.

Dr. Kestenberg is a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University. She was a supervising and training analyst for adults and children at New York University and is on the psychiatric staff of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y. Dr. Kestenberg is one of the original founders and organizers of Child Development Research which sponsors three projects: The Sidney L. Green Pre-Natal Project, the Center for Parents and Children in Roslyn Estates, N.Y. and the "Jerome Riker International Study of the Organized Persecution of Children" of which she is the Project Director. She is also the founder of the "Group for the Psychoanalytic Study of the Effect of the Holocaust on the second Generation." Address correspondence to 30 Soundview Lane, Sands Point, New York.

Estelle Borowitz is in private practice in psychoanalysis, Port Washington, N.Y. and Manhattan. Faculty and Supervisor, Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies. Editor, Modern Psychoanalysis. Board of Trustees, Association for Modern Psychoanalysis and Society for Modern Psychoanalysis.