Back to Christopher Lasch, The Narcissistic Personality of Our Time: Table of Contents

Every age develops its own peculiar forms of pathology, which express in exaggerated form its underlying character structure. In Freud’s time, hysteria and obsessional neurosis carried to extremes the personality traits as­sociated with the capitalist order at an earlier stage in its develop­ment—acquisitiveness, fanatical devotion to work, and a fierce repression of sexuality.

In our time, the preschizophrenic, bor­derline, or personality disorders have attracted increasing atten­tion, along with schizophrenia itself. This “change in the form of neuroses has been observed and described since World War II by an ever-increasing number of psychiatrists.” According to Peter L. Giovacchini, “Clinicians are constantly faced with the seem­ingly increasing number of patients who do not fit current diag­nostic categories” and who suffer not from “definitive symptoms” but from “vague, ill-defined complaints.” “When I refer to ‘this type of patient,’ ” he writes, “practically everyone knows to whom I am referring.” The growing prominence of “character disorders” seems to signify an underlying change in the organiza­tion of personality, from what has been called inner-direction to narcissism.