Harry Stack Sullivan was one of the first psychiatrists to creatively reflect on the universal tendency to narcissism in the human species, which was considered to be the mother of all illusions. Atendency to act and think basically as if one’s own personal reality (and not other’s) was detached from death, from multiple vulnerabilities, from fallibility and from absence of love. Sullivan’s theory on the universality of a sort of narcissistic illusion probably influenced other Authors, among which Heinz Kohut, on their reflection on a healthy narcissism as indispensable ingredient for a positive development of personality. Starting from Sullivan’s ideas memory we asked ourselves some questions in a cognitive and evolutionary context: What is the difference between a healthy and a pathological narcissism? What can address the narcissistic illusion in a pathological sense? What evolutionary processes lead to the narcissistic illusion? What do the many different clinical types of pathological narcissism have in common? What are the implications of it for the therapy? This article focuses on the answers that, in a cognitive and evolutionary key, we tried to give to these questions.
Keywords: Narcissism, personality, cognitive-evolutionary perspective.