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Title: On Reading Narcissistic texts : an object relations theory view of the life and works of Soren Kierkegaard.
Author(s): Greenhalgh, Kenneth
Supervisor(s): Hass, Andrew
Keywords: Kierkegaard
Psychology of Religion
Issue Date: May-2008
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis is concerned with the psychoanalytical concept of narcissism, and the effect that texts written by narcissistic writers have upon their readers. I use Søren Kierkegaard as an example of a narcissistic writer who produced narcissistic texts. In order to follow through the logic of the thesis, it is necessary to explain first the Freudian idea of narcissism, and then narcissism as considered by one post-Freudian school called Object Relations theory. It is also necessary, second, to summarise a psychoanalytic model of what happens when we read any kind of text. The methodology of this thesis is usually called psychobiography, the systematic application of psychodynamic principles to the study of a life, and so, third, both the principles and some of the issues of this methodology are presented. Having established an operational definition of narcissism, the thesis looks first at Kierkegaard’s life, identifying a series of key events or stages that can be re-interpreted on the assumption that Kierkegaard was narcissistic. Three of his key texts are considered next - Fear and Trembling, Works of Love and The Sickness Unto Death. Each of these can be interpreted to show how his narcissism influenced his writing. Two substantial appendices are included. The first is a comment upon the relationship between God and psychoanalysis, presented primarily to introduce the ideas of Donald Winnicott. The second is on the concept of psychopathology, a difficult topic, since it is at once both heavily value laden, but is also persistent in any analysis of psychological difference. In conclusion I refer to several key Kierkegaardian themes, emphasising their narcissistic origins, and ask the reader to reflect upon their own responses to these issues, to consider how Kierkegaard’s narcissism influences their own emotions, and how these in turn affect any cognitive understanding of Søren Kierkegaard.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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