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The Narcissistic Client's Approach to Role Playing in Psychodramatic Group Psychotherapy: A Theoretical Examination

24 July 2001


J. L. Moreno's theories form the foundation for this conceptual integration of psychodramatic and psychodynamic theories addressing how clients diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) approach the task of role play in psychodrama group psychotherapy. Moreno's developmental theories and Mahler's theories of separation-individuation are reviewed as a basis for applying three psychodramatic interventions with the NPD population: double, mirror, and role reversal. These three interventions are explored here in relation to the specific developmental demands and interruptions NPD clients present with in therapy. The theories of Kern berg, Kohut, and Mahler are explored and integrated with current psychodramatic theory and practice in an attempt to clarify the potential for psychodrama to be an effectjve intervention with NPD clients. Conclusions emerging from this conceptual integration include support for a parallel between these psychodramatic interventions and developmental deficits in NPD clients. More specifically, the double role play may help the NPD client develop an increased ability to contain split off emotion, and begin to stretch themselves psychologically beyond the rigid boundaries of the grandiose self. The mirror intervention may assist NPD clients to internalize an accepting, observing, and orienting object, as well as the norms of the group and society. Finally, the role reversal role play helps facilitate conditions that integrate affect and objects and development of empathy. Future research into the NPD population might include exploring empirically how NPD clients' perform in psychodrama groups.


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