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Attachment and Object Relations in Patients With Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Implications for Therapeutic Process and Outcome

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Abstract

This article presents a therapeutic approach for patients with severe personality disorders, transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP), a manualized evidence-based treatment, which integrates contemporary object relations theory with attachment theory and research. Case material is presented from a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) patient in TFP whose primary presenting problems were in the arena of sexuality and love relations, and whose attachment state of mind showed evidence of oscillation between dismissing and preoccupied mechanisms. Clinical process material is presented to illustrate the tactics and techniques of TFP and how they have been refined for treatment of individuals with NPD. The ways in which conflicts around sexuality and love relations were lived out in the transference is delineated with a focus on the interpretation of devalued and idealized representations of self and others, both of which are key components of the compensatory grandiose self that defensively protects the individual from an underlying sense of vulnerability and imperfection.

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