Narcissism

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French: narcissisme

Sigmund Freud[edit | edit source]

Development of the Term[edit | edit source]

The term "narcissism" first appears in Freud's work in 1910, but it is not until his work "On Narcissism: An Introduction"<ref>Freud, Sigmund. "On Narcissism: An Introduction," 1914c. SE XIV, 69.</ref> that the concept begins to play a central role in psychoanalytic theory.

Investment of the Libido in the Ego[edit | edit source]

From this point on, Freud defines narcissism as the investment of libido in the ego, and opposes it to object-love, in which libido is invested in objects.

Birth of the Ego[edit | edit source]

Lacan attributes great importance to this phase in Freud's work, since it clearly inscribes the ego as an object of the libidinal economy, and links the birth of the ego to the narcissistic stage of development.

Narcissistic Stage of Development[edit | edit source]

Narcissism is different from the prior stage of autoeroticism (in which the ego does not exist as a unity), and only comes about when "a new psychical action" gives birth to the ego.

Jacques Lacan[edit | edit source]

Myth of Narcissus[edit | edit source]

Lacan develops Freud's concept by linking it more explicitly with its namesake, the myth of Narcissus.

Identification with the Specular Image[edit | edit source]

Lacan thus defines narcissism as the erotic attraction to the specular image; this erotic relation underlies the primary identification by which the ego is formed in the mirror stage.

Erotic-Aggressive Character of Narcissism[edit | edit source]

Narcissism has both an erotic character and an aggressive character. It is erotic, as the myth of Narcissus shows, since the subject is strongly attracted to the gestalt that is his image. It is aggressive, since the wholeness of the specular image contrasts with the uncoordinated disunity of the subject's real body, and thus seems to threaten the subject with disintegration.

"Narcissistic Suicidal Aggression"[edit | edit source]

In "Remarks on Psychic Sausality,"<ref>Lacan, Jacques. "Propos sur la causalité psychique", in Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. [1946]. pp. 151-93</ref> Lacan coins the term "narcissistic suicidal aggression" (aggression suicidaire narcissique) to express the fact that the erotic-aggressive character of the narcissistic infatuation with the specular image can lead the subject to self-destruction (as the myth of Narcissus also illustrates).<ref>Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p. 187; Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p. 174</ref>

Imaginary Dimension of Human Relationships[edit | edit source]

The narcissistic relation constitutes the imaginary dimension of human relationships.<ref>Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p. 92</ref>

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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