narcissism


narcissism
Used in everyday life to indicate self-love and egoism, the concept has a more technical meaning to orthodox psychoanalytic theory. Primary narcissism refers to the love of self which, Freud argues, must precede the ability to love others. This stage of development is also typified by the opposite of self-love-self-hatred. Secondary narcissism is identifying with, and then introjecting, an object (person) making it part of oneself. A ‘narcissistic object choice’ involves identifying with a person on the basis of that person's similarity to oneself.
The concept has been extended by the American social historian Christopher Lasch (The Culture of Narcissism, 1980, and The Minimal Self, 1984) into an instrument of social analysis and criticism. Lasch, who is unusual on the political Left for promoting the virtue of family life, argues that modern society has crippled human abilities for love and commitment. The social changes associated with modernity (the development of large bureaucracies and technological change), and consequent changes in family relationships (especially the comparative absence of the father), have allegedly made it difficult to develop beyond narcissism. The dominant personality type of modern society is said to be internally impoverished, fluctuating between exaggerated self-love and self-hatred, consequently needing parasitic relationships to reinforce the former; it is unable to tolerate frustration, inadequacy, and strong feelings, due to a lack of ego-development. Lasch sees a number of cultural phenomena-from the emphasis on health and sporting achievement through to the New Left of the 1960s, sexual liberation movements, and much modern feminism-as manifestations of narcissism. The narcissistic personality is often successful in the outside world, but feels an inner emptiness, and concentrates on survival rather than investing in the future.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • narcissism — arcissism n. An exceptional interest in and admiration for oneself. Syn: self love, narcism. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • narcissism — (n.) 1905, from Ger. Narzissismus, coined 1899 (in Die sexuellen Perversitäten ), by German psychiatrist Paul Näcke (1851 1913), on a comparison suggested 1898 by Havelock Ellis, from Gk. Narkissos, name of a beautiful youth in mythology (Ovid,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • narcissism — ► NOUN ▪ excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one s physical appearance. DERIVATIVES narcissist noun narcissistic adjective. ORIGIN from Narcissus, a beautiful youth in Greek mythology who fell in love with his reflection in a pool …   English terms dictionary

  • narcissism — [när′sə siz΄əm; ] chiefly Brit [, när sis′iz΄əm] n. [Ger Narzissismus (< Narziss, NARCISSUS) + ismus, ISM] 1. self love; interest, often excessive interest, in one s own appearance, comfort, importance, abilities, etc. 2. Psychoanalysis arrest …   English World dictionary

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  • Narcissism —    The Greek myth of Narcissus, the god who destroyed himself by gazing continuously at his own image reflected in the pool, speaks so powerfully to the human condition that the concept of narcissism lay easily available for discovery. And during …   Historical dictionary of Psychiatry

  • narcissism — narcissist, narcist, n. narcissistic, narcistic, adj. /nahr seuh siz em/, n. 1. inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self love; vanity. 2. Psychoanal. erotic gratification derived from admiration of one s own physical or mental… …   Universalium

  • narcissism — [[t]nɑ͟ː(r)sɪsɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT (disapproval) Narcissism is the habit of always thinking about yourself and admiring yourself. [FORMAL] Those who suffer from narcissism become self absorbed or chronic show offs. Syn: self love …   English dictionary

  • narcissism — 1. A state in which one interprets and regards everything in relation to oneself and not to other persons or things. 2. Self love, which may include sexual attraction toward onself. SEE ALSO: autoeroticism. SYN: self love. [Narkissos, G. myth.… …   Medical dictionary