Narcissism, identity formation, and genocide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Genocide is part of the human experience. Humans are always potentially participants in genocide. Our existential dilemma is that while we are animals fated to old age, disease, and death, we yearn to deny the human condition. Our narcissistic aims lead us to create a heroic identity in which we begin to imagine ourselves omnipotent and immortal, more powerful, and deserving than those around us. We sustain the heroic self-image by merging with a group that reinforces our uniqueness by providing the identity trappings of an idealized self as we inculcate the mantle of the idealized values of the group. The negative identity fragments and images of the self are projected out onto others who are defined as non-human, undeserving, and who need to be exterminated to preserve the integrity that is essential to the collective narcissism of the killing group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-226
Number of pages16
JournalAdolescent psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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