Dal bo Paolo
Expatriates' primary narcissism as a compensation for the disruption of symbolic relationships: a Lacanian perspective

The issue of health among global workers has not been explored yet and this work aims to investigate it more deeply through a psychoanalytic perspective. In particular this paper introduces the relationship between language and libido. The French psychiatrist Jacques Lacan suggested that meaning is inversely correlated with libido or that sexual drive is absorbed by language. When the linguistic medium fails or when it has the tendency to become slippery as in the case of James Joyce libido becomes excessive and threatens the subject. Nevertheless Lacan hypothesize through the analysis of Joyce’s biography and works that the excess can be curbed by a primary narcissism intertwined with a symbolic component. Grounding on his theory and on the findings of the research on expatriation I hypothesize that global workers share a mechanism similar to the one of James Joyce. Through 23 semi-structured interviews I show how expatriates often invest their libidinal excess into imaginary objects with a symbolic component (and hence recognizable by the other) such as career. This particular typology of primary narcissism called Sinthome by Jacques Lacan becomes stronger when affectivity is destroyed or in other words when libido is not linguistically absorbed by the other. Primary narcissism can be a source of resilience when libido can not flow linguistically and it is symbolically sustained by the organizational dimension.