About Narcissism: An Introduction – Freud

On narcissism: An introduction , text from 1914, was a significant point in the development of Freud’s theories. It was produced after work on his earlier theories on dreams and the unconscious mind . Freud began to explore various aspects of the unconscious mind, such as the ‘ id ‘. However, Freud does not mention the ‘id’ in this work. Instead, he makes suggestions about the existence of these various parts of the mind. In addition, Freud begins to talk about mechanisms of self-control of the mind, which he refers to as the ‘ ideal ego ‘. However, he does not directly mention the superego , which would be the basis of his later works. It is important to note that About narcissismit is one of his most technical jobs. In it, Freud uses many clinical terms, which may not be easy for the novice reader to understand.

In the work On narcissism: an introduction  ( On Narcissism in English, Zur Einführung des Narzißmus in German) is 1914, Freud introduces the concept of ‘narcissism’ . Freud tells us that Paul Nacke chose the term  narcissism  to denote “the attitude of a person who treats his own body in the same way that the body of a sexual object is commonly treated” . He postulates that all human beings have some level of narcissism in their development.

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In his work, Freud differentiates between two types of narcissism: primary narcissism and secondary narcissism . Primary narcissism pre-exists in all human beings; this type of energy has been present since birth. Freud speculates that this is the same type of energy evident in children and youth. At this point in their lives, children often believe that they are capable of performing incredible feats just by their words. According to Laplanche and Pontalis (2008), primary narcissism designates an early state in which the child invests his entire libido in himself . However, at some point in his life, this primary narcissism is directed towards the outside, towards an object.

Freud speculates that secondary narcissism develops when individuals direct this object affection back to themselves. That is, after the libido has already been projected outwards, to objects other than itself. The result is that an individual becomes “cut off” from society and disinterested in others. Freud postulates that such an individual will have low self-esteem due to his inability to express love to others and that they express love to him. In addition, this person may be filled with shame, guilt and often become defensive. This is because narcissism causes an individual to seek self-preservation.

In his work, Freud speculates that narcissism has different sources. First, the person is driven by a need for self-preservation; second, the individual is driven by sexual instincts, essentially the need to procreate. During childhood, these two units are generally the same. In essence, the more ‘libido’ is projected onto others ( object libido) , the less energy there is for self-love (ego libido). In essence, Freud postulates the libido object emanates from a need to guarantee the survival of the species. Consequently, Freud argues that the concept of love is to guarantee the continuation of the species. He further argues that, for the individual and the species to survive, there is a need to maintain a delicate balance between these two libidos. For example, if an individual wants to eat, he must have some ego libido , however, if he wants the species to survive, he must have object libido . An imbalance occurs when too much energy is directed inward, towards the individual. The result is that the person’s personality becomes infected and can no longer function properly in society.

In the last chapters of his work, Freud seeks to explain the cause of homosexuality . According to Freud, in the relationship between mother and child, the child directs his affection outwards in relation to the mother. However, homosexuals do not learn to project their object libido correctly. According to Freud, these individuals look for themselves as a loving object. According to Freud, this is narcissism in its purest form.


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