Freud’s Conceptualization of Narcissism



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Freud’s Conceptualization of Narcissism


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The philosophical conceptualization of narcissism revolves around admiration of oneself from different perspectives such as egotistic and excessive pride. On the understanding of narcissism, Freud contributed significantly to the explanation and understanding of narcissism from his perspective. Freud’s understanding of narcissism involves an introduction to ego formation, then proceeding to understand narcissism from the point of self-love, sexual relationships, and self-concepts. In this regard, Freud conceptualizes narcissism as one’s admiration and adoration of self in the context of being love and sexual desire. On this note, he conceptualizes narcissism on the ground of mild mental illness. In exploring the book, Freud by Sigmund Freud and edited by Peter Gay, this paper describes the conceptualization and understanding of narcissism from Freud’s perspective.

Freud starts conceptualization of narcissism by understanding the formation of ego. According to Freud, at birth people have no such thing as ego. As one evolves from infancy stage to early childhood, one begins to have a sense of ego. Parental and societal expectations, as well as proscriptions characterized as externally related, tend to bring the formation of ego in an individual. Freud’s theory thus describes the formation of the ego as trying to fulfill parental and societal expectation. The societal and parental expectations termed ideal ego pushes one to satisfy the ego in a libido related satisfaction. Here, Freud’s theory formalizes as one tries to fulfill the ideal ego expectations, a libidinal satisfaction arises.

In proceeding with the understanding of narcissism from Freud’s perspective, one needs to consider narcissism in self-love, self-concept, and sexual relationships. The formation of ego proceeds from its childhood development. As it develops, one starts to direct the libidinal satisfaction to external factors like family and society members. Here, the self-love and adoration tend to go. Later on, it restores through love where libidinal satisfaction tends to follow objects of love. According to Freud’s theory on narcissism, self-concept refers to the adoration and admiration of sense of oneself entailing pride, confidence, as well as attractiveness to self and others. As one grows, this self-concept vanishes as one tries to satisfy parental and societal expectations in an attempt to be morally virtuous.

Human society is a characteristic of moral virtuous defined as the center of understanding happiness and harmonious living. Here, every individual tends to live within societal standards thereby satisfying other people’s idealized expectations. As one grows, the return of self-love begins, and at this stage, one considers personal happiness as the most important concept of living. In this regard, one’s speculations of things changes and therefore starts self-love and self-concept in relation to objects of one’s love. From the foundation of Freud’s theory, the concept of narcissism entails one’s accordance of adoration in the context of sexual desire which is neurosis.

By considering the concept of ego, self-love, and self-concept, Freud’s theory opens the chapter of narcissism. The theory conceptualizes narcissism as involving primary and secondary categorization. Primary narcissism exists prior to birth and exist in an all-inclusive manner in all individuals. This kind of narcissism is evident at a young age and as one grows the narcissism starts to direct towards objects. On this note, the directions towards external object conflicts with individual concerns. When it comes to secondary narcissism, the adoration towards object turns back to the individual. In this context, one detaches from society and society members and this social detachment result in lowering an individual’s self-esteem. Since narcissism is neurosis causing one’s self-preservation taking precedence over societal things, it results in one’s inability to express love since love is expressed to oneself.

Freud’s theory describes narcissism to result from two sources namely one’s urge to self-preservation as well as a sex drive that is procreation. The direction of libido is what determines the outcome narcissism as too much direction of libido one thing; for example, objects result in a deficiency for another like ego libido. For human being survival, the object libido and ego libido need to be in balance. In this line of thought, it is evident that narcissism and concept of self-love result from an imbalance in the libido. Here, one directs too much libido on ego and oneself and this result in the destruction of a person’s personality and thus the inability to function in the society as required. For example, beautiful females have one narcissist characteristics involving self-adoration. Following this example, Freud’s theory postulates that these beautiful females always look for someone that would have the same adoration and directs it to them and thus resulting in homosexuality.

In conclusion, Freud understands narcissism from the point of self-adoration and direction of libido to ego and objects. To him, some levels of narcissism are absolutely in all human beings. The direction of libido is what results in narcissism being a mental disorder characterized by an imbalance in libido. Too much direction libido to oneself results in self-love which causes social detachment thereby disadvantageous to individual’s societal living. The self-control of the mind is the cause of narcissism as it main thing directing libido.

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