Narcissistic Disintegration VS Dissociative Ego Defenses


Janus and Chiron
Janus and Chiron

The ego is a feature unique to our species. It is our sense of self as well as a sort of psychological container that holds our parts together. Depending on one’s childhood circumstances, along with the ethical choices made up until early adulthood, the ego develops either in a manner that affords integration or becomes calcified to the point of asphyxiating these parts.

It is certainly true that all people contain both good and bad parts. Unfortunately, the actual clinical condition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is one where the Self is irreparably cleft in two in a manner that completely prevents both of these parts from integrating. This results in the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. NPD is the very definition of “split personality”.

In the Depth Psychology tradition, the split that results in NPD is known as a “Vertical Split”. This creates an ever-increasingly calcified ego defense system, resulting in disintegration anxiety. This phenomenon stands in sharp contrast to the dissociative “Horizontal Split” that can be incurred by anyone with trauma. The former protects the ego for the sake of protecting the ego, while the later affords the preservation of the Self/soul.

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