3 Hour Workshop

Traumatic Narcissism: Clinical Challenges with Relational Systems of Subjugation

Sunday, March 25
1:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Salon 12

Daniel Shaw presents a way of understanding the traumatic impact of narcissism as it is engendered developmentally, and as it is enacted relationally. Focusing on the dynamics of narcissism in interpersonal relations, the authordescribes the relational system of what he terms the 'traumatizing narcissist' as a system of subjugation – the objectification of one person in a relationship as the means of enforcing the dominance of the subjectivity of the other.


The author illustrates the workings of this relational system of subjugation in a variety of contexts: theorizing traumatic narcissism as an intergenerationally transmitted relational/developmental trauma; and exploring the clinician's experience working with the adult children of traumatizing narcissists. He explores the relationship of cult leaders and their followers, and examines how traumatic narcissism has lingered vestigially in some aspects of the psychoanalytic profession.


Bringing together theories of trauma and attachment, intersubjectivity and complementarity, Shaw demonstrates how narcissism can best be understood not merely as character, but as the result of the specific trauma of subjugation, in which one person is required to become the object for a significant other who demands hegemonic subjectivity. 

Traumatic Narcissism presents therapeutic clinical opportunities not only for psychoanalysts of different schools, but for all mental health professionals working with a wide variety of modalities. Although primarily intended for the professional psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, this workshop will be equally instructive for therapy patients.

The author concludes that it is important to assess trauma clients for exposure to traumatic narcissism, which is often under-reported and insufficiently understood.  When applicable, therapists should provide psychoeducation about the traumatizing narcissist's relational system of subjugation as a part of the comprehensive treatment plan.

Learning Objectives:

Daniel Shaw

Faculty and Clinical Supervisor
The National Institute for the Psychotherapies, New York City
VALLEY COTTAGE, New York

Daniel Shaw, LCSW, is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City and in Nyack, New York. Originally trained as an actor at Northwestern University and with the renowned teacher Uta Hagen in New York City, Dan later worked as a missionary for an Indian guru. His eventual recognition of cultic aspects of this organization led him to become an outspoken activist in support of individuals and families traumatically abused in cults. Simultaneous with leaving this group, Dan began his training in the mental health profession, quickly becoming a faculty member and supervisor at NIP in New York, publishing papers in Psychoanalytic Inquiry, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalytic Dialogues, and most recently, his book, Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, for the Relational Perspectives Series, Routledge. Dan also teaches at the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, and is adjunct clinical supervisor for the Smith College School of Social Work.

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