The Narcissistic-Echoistic Couple and the Need for Containment

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Organised by:

Tavistock Relationships

13 March 2021

Time: 10:00 - 16:00

Price: £80

Location: online


Understanding echoism in relation to narcissism is an important starting point for work with couples in particular. The concept of echoism in psychoanalytic thinking is much less explored than is narcissism. Narcissism’s counterpart has much more often been understood as masochism or as the projection of one person’s disavowed narcissism into the other. Whilst both of these processes may be in operation, clinicians often note that neither of these insights explain the dynamics they see in work with people who appear to be in relation to someone narcissistic.

Once the narcissistic/echoistic dynamic is understood, the purpose of it requires further exploration. As well as it being a repeat of previous patterns, the dynamic also enacts specific unconscious imperatives. In particular, these include issues related to containment. Containment in this context is a vital component of the developmental process; it is a mental activity on the part of one person in which the other is enabled to grow and change. The narcissism/echoism dynamic can be understood, at least in part, as an endeavour to achieve containment for both parties.

In this CPD day, the morning will look at theories about narcissism and echoism and how these dynamics may be manifest in clinical work. The afternoon will focus on containment in this context. There will be opportunities for participants to have some discussion time in smaller groups and to bring their own clinical material.

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