For the pop culture obsession hiding behind a veil of pop psychology, see Wikipedia:Narcissism. For the article on the scientific term languishing in a derived page name that sounds more like a redirect, see Wikipedia:Narcissistic personality disorder

The term narcissism means love of oneself and refers to the set of character traits concerned with self-admiration, self-centeredness and self-regard. The name is commonly believed to have been originated by Sigmund Freud, from the Greek myth of Narcissus, who was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. However, Havelock and Ellis (1898) first drew on the myth of Narcissus to illustrate a male auto eroticism case long before Freud's 1914 paper on Narcissism. This is referenced in a paper by Akhtar and Thompson (1982).

While virtually everyone can be claimed to possess some degree of narcissistic traits, certain forms of narcissism can be highly dysfunctional, and are classified as pathologies such as the Wikipedia:narcissistic personality disorder and Wikipedia:malignant narcissism. Wikipedia:Psychopathy, as defined by the Wikipedia:PCL-R, also contains a narcissistic factor.[1]

Narcissism as defined by Psychiatry Edit

Narcissism is a term first used in relation to human thought and behavior by the Austrian physician and psychiatrist Sigmund Freud.

Narcissism is a set of character traits concerned with self-admiration, self-centeredness and self-regard.

Although everyone has some narcissistic traits, narcissism can also manifest in an extreme pathological form in some Wikipedia:personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder wherein the patient overestimates his abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation. This may be present to such a degree that it severely damages the person's ability to live a productive or happy life because the traits manifest as severe selfishness and disregard for the needs and feelings of others.

Psychoanalysis and Narcissism Edit


Main article: Wikipedia:Sigmund Freud

The Austrian physician Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), a neurologist turned psychiatrist, introduced the concept of narcissism in his 1914 essay On Narcissism: An Introduction.[2]

The Freudian Theory of Narcissism Edit

Primary narcissism Edit

In his essay, 'On Narcissism: An Introduction,' Freud suggested that exclusive self-love might not be as abnormal as previously thought and might even be a common component in the human psyche. He argued that narcissism "is the libidinal complement to the egoism of the instinct of self-preservation," or, more simply, the desire and energy that drives one’s instinct to survive. He referred to this as primary narcissism.

According to Freud, people are born without a sense of themselves as individuals, or Wikipedia:ego. The ego develops during infancy and the early part of childhood, only when the outside world, usually in the form of parental controls and expectations, intrudes upon primary narcissism, teaching the individual about the nature and standards of his social environment from which he can form the ideal ego, an image of the perfect self towards which the ego should aspire.

Freud regarded all libidinous drives as fundamentally sexual and suggested that ego libido (Wikipedia:libido directed inwards to the self) cannot always be clearly distinguished from object-libido (libido directed to persons or objects outside oneself).

An aspect frequently associated with primary narcissism appears in an earlier essay, 'Totem and Taboo,'[3] in which he describes his observations of children and primitive people. What he observed was called "Wikipedia:magical thinking," such as the belief that a person can impact reality by wishing or willpower. It demonstrates a belief in the self as powerful and able to change external realities, which Freud believed was part of normal human development.

Secondary narcissism Edit

According to Freud, secondary narcissism is a pathological condition that occurs when the libido withdraws from objects outside the self. Freud further claimed that it is an extreme form of the narcissism that is part of all people.

Narcissism, relationships and self-worth Edit

According to Freud, to care for someone is to convert ego-libido into object-libido by giving some self-love to another person, which leaves less ego-libido available for primary narcissism and protecting and nurturing the self. When that affection is returned so is the libido, thus restoring primary narcissism and self worth. Any failure to achieve, or disruption of, this balance causes psychological disturbances. In such a case, primary narcissism can be restored only by withdrawing object-libido (also called object-love) to replenish ego-libido.

According to Freud, as a child grows, and his ego develops, he is constantly giving of his self-love to people and objects, the first of which is usually his mother. This diminished self-love should be replenished by the affection and caring returned to him.

Karen HorneyEdit


Main article: Wikipedia:Karen Horney
File:Karen Horney 1938.jpg

German physician and psychiatrist Karen Horney (1885-1952) began to develop her own theory of psychoanalysis in the late 1930s. Although acknowledging Freud as the founder of psychoanalysis, she was critical of his work, arguing that personality was shaped mainly by social, cultural and environmental factors. She felt that Freud was wrong to assume that the relationships, attitudes and feelings common in his culture and times were driven largely by biological factors and could be applied universally.

Horney saw narcissism quite differently from Freud, Kohut and other mainstream psychoanalytic theorists in that she did not posit a primary narcissism but saw the narcissistic personality as the product of a certain kind of early environment acting on a certain kind of temperament. For her, narcissistic needs and tendencies are not inherent in human nature.

Narcissism is different from her other major defensive strategies or solutions in that it is not compensatory. Self-idealization is compensatory in her theory, but it differs from narcissism. All the defensive strategies involve self-idealization, but in the narcissistic solution it tends to be the product of indulgence rather than of deprivation. The narcissist's Wikipedia:self-esteem is not strong, however, because it is not based on genuine accomplishments.[4]

Heinz KohutEdit


Main article: Wikipedia:Heinz Kohut

Viennese physician and psychiatrist Heinz Kohut, M.D. (1913 - 1981) is best known for his development of Self Psychology, a school of thought within Wikipedia:psychodynamic/Wikipedia:psychoanalytic theory.

Kohut explored further the implications of Freud's perception of narcissism.

He said that a child will tend to fantasize about having a grandiose self and ideal parents. He claimed that deep down, all people retain a belief in their own perfection and the perfection of anything of which they are a part. As a person matures, grandiosity gives way to self-esteem, and the idealization of the parent becomes the framework for core values. It is when trauma disrupts this process that the most primitive and narcissistic version of the self remains unchanged. Kohut called this condition narcissistic personality disorder.

He suggested narcissism as part of a stage in normal development, in which caregivers provide a strong and protective presence with which the child can identify that reinforces the child's growing sense of self by mirroring his good qualities. If the caregivers fail to provide adequately for their child, the child grows up with a brittle and flawed sense of self.[5]

He also saw beyond the negative and pathological aspects of narcissism, believing it to be a component in the development of resilience, ideals and ambition once it has been transformed by life experiences or analysis.[6]

Otto KernbergEdit


Main article: Wikipedia:Otto F. Kernberg

Otto Kernberg uses the term narcissism to refer to the role of self in the regulation of self-esteem.

He regarded normal, infantile narcissism to be dependent on the affirmation of others and the acquisition of desirable and appealing objects, which should later develop into healthy, mature self-esteem. This healthy narcissism depends upon an integrated sense of self that incorporates images of the internalized affirmation of those close to the person and is regulated by the super ego and ego ideal, internal mental structures that assure the person of his worth and that he deserves his own respect.

The failure of infantile narcissism to develop in this healthy adult form becomes a pathology.[7]

Other forms of narcissismEdit

Acquired situational narcissismEdit

Acquired situational narcissism (ASN) is a form of narcissism that develops in late adolescence or adulthood, brought on by wealth, fame and the other trappings of Wikipedia:celebrity. It was coined by Robert B. Millman, professor of Wikipedia:psychiatry at the Wikipedia:Weill Cornell Medical College of Wikipedia:Cornell University.

ASN differs from conventional narcissism in that it develops after childhood and is triggered and supported by the celebrity-obsessed society: fans, assistants and tabloid media all play into the idea that the person really is vastly more important than other people, triggering a narcissistic problem that might have been only a tendency, or latent, and helping it to become a full-blown personality disorder.

In its presentation and symptoms, it is indistinguishable from narcissistic personality disorder, differing only in its late onset and its support by large numbers of others. The person with ASN may suffer from unstable relationships, substance abuse and erratic behaviour.

A famous fictional character with ASN is Wikipedia:Norma Desmond, the main character of Sunset Boulevard.

Sexual narcissismEdit

Sexual narcissism has been described as an egocentric pattern of sexual behavior that involves both low self-esteem and an inflated sense of sexual ability and sexual entitlement. In addition, sexual narcissism is the erotic preoccupation with oneself as a superb lover through a desire to merge sexually with a mirror image of oneself. Sexual narcissism, coined by David Farley Hurlbert,[8] is an intimacy dysfunction in which sexual exploits are pursued, generally in the form of extramarital affairs, to overcompensate for low self-esteem and an inability to experience true intimacy. This behavioral pattern is believed to be more common in men than in women and has been tied to domestic violence in men[9] and sexual coercion in couples.[10] Hurlbert argues that sex is a natural biological given and therefore cannot be deemed as an addiction. He and his colleagues assert that any Wikipedia:sex addiction is nothing more than a misnomer for what is actually sexual narcissism or sexual compulsivity.[11]

Disordered narcissismEdit


Main article: Wikipedia:Narcissistic personality disorder

Lack of Wikipedia:empathy is a hallmark of narcissistic disorders, and sufferers find it extremely difficult to understand others' (and their own) emotional states and impact. This makes maintaining close or intimate relationships significantly harder. They may find it difficult to perceive or admit this, or may interpret it as a virtue.

It is also worth noting that the individual expressions of grandiosity or arrogance vary with the person's value system. A person will generally attempt to display superiority as he or she defines it.

  • Overreacts to criticism, becoming angry or humiliated
  • Uses others to reach goals
  • Exaggerates own importance
  • Entertains unrealistic fantasies about achievements, power, beauty, intelligence or romance
  • Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  • Seeks constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
  • Is easily jealous[12]
  • Has a sense of extreme entitlement
  • Is exploitative of others
  • Lacks empathy
  • Displays arrogant, haughty and proud behaviour.
  • Uses denial mechanism to downplay own inadequacies or failings
  • Uses rationalization mechanism[13] to justify self-centered behavior

Commonly used measures of narcissism Edit

Narcissistic Personality Inventory Edit

The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) is the most widely used measure of narcissism in social psychological research. Although several versions of the NPI have been proposed in the literature, a forty-item forced-choice version (Raskin & Terry, 1988) is the one most commonly employed in current research. The NPI is based on the DSM-III clinical criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), although it was designed to measure these features in the general population. Thus, the NPI is often said to measure "normal" or "subclinical" (borderline) narcissism (i.e., in people who score very high on the NPI do not necessarily meet criteria for diagnosis with NPD).

Because the NPI was originally based on DSM criteria for NPD, there has been much research on its factor structure. Raskin and Terry (1988) identified seven factors of the NPI (i.e., superiority, exhibitionism, entitlement, vanity, authority, exploitativeness and self-sufficiency), mapping roughly onto the DSM criteria for NPD. Since then, several studies have further examined the factor structure of the NPI with varying results. For example, some studies report three factors; some report four factors. Furthermore, it is often the case that factors of the NPI exhibit very low internal consistency (although the full scale exhibits acceptable reliability). Thus, it may currently be concluded that the factor structure of the NPI is unknown.

Research has found that people who score high on the NPI are more likely to cheat and game-play in relationships, take more resources for themselves and leave fewer resources for others, value material things and like looking at themselves in the mirror.

The MCMIEdit

The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (Wikipedia:MCMI) is a widely used diagnostic test developed by Wikipedia:Theodore Millon. The MCMI includes a scale for Narcissism. Auerbach JS ("Validation of two scales for narcissistic personality disorder", J Pers Assess. 1984 Dec;48(6):649-53. [1]) compared the NPI and MCMI and found them well correlated, r(146) = .55, p<.001. It should be noted that whereas the MCMI measures narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), the NPI measures narcissism as it occurs in the general population. In other words, the NPI measures "normal" narcissism; i.e., most people who score very high on the NPI do not have NPD. Indeed, the NPI does not capture any sort of narcissism taxon as would be expected if it measured NPD.[14]

Heritability of narcissism utilizing twin studiesEdit

Livesley et al. (1993) published a paper entitled Genetic and environmental contributions to dimensions of personality disorder, which concluded, in agreement with other studies, that narcissism as measured by a standardized test was a common inherited trait. Additionally, in similar agreement with those other studies, it was found that there exists a continuum between normal and disordered personality.

The study subjects were 175 volunteer twin pairs (ninety identical, eighty-five fraternal) drawn from the general population. Each twin completed a questionnaire that assessed eighteen dimensions of personality disorder. The authors estimated the Wikipedia:heritability of each dimension of personality by standard methods, thus providing estimates of the relative contributions of genetic and environmental causation.

Of the eighteen personality dimensions, narcissism was found to have the highest heritability (0.64), indicating that the concordance of this trait in the identical twins was significantly influenced by genetics. Of the other dimensions of personality, only four were found to have heritability coefficients of greater than 0.5: callousness, identity problems, oppositionality and social avoidance.

The study generally concluded that, in agreement with other studies, some personality factors have significantly high heritability coefficients, and there exists a continuum between normal and disordered personality.[15]

Healthy NarcissismEdit

Arguably, there is no such thing as healthy narcissism, but rather healthy self-love, and narcissism, which is unhealthy. Certainly the clinical definition of it exists to make such a distinction. For the purposes of this section, however, healthy narcissism is taken to be that self-love that is healthy. For the pathological condition of narcissism, see Wikipedia:narcissistic personality disorder and for narcissism in the generic sense, see Wikipedia:Narcissism.

What is Healthy Narcissism?Edit

Wikipedia:Narcissism, in the generic sense, describes the character trait of self-love, based on self-image or ego. Narcissism is generally seen in a more negative manner, related to excessive levels of self-esteem and a devaluation of others, but this might be too narrow-minded. Healthy narcissism is formed through a structural truthfulness of the self, achievement of self and object constancy, synchronization between the self and the Wikipedia:superego and a balance between libidinal and aggressive drives (the ability to receive gratification from others and the drive for impulse expression). Healthy narcissism forms a constant, realistic self-interest and mature goals and principles and an ability to form deep object relations.[16] A feature related to healthy narcissism is the feeling of Wikipedia:greatness. This is used to avoid the feeling of being small.

Healthy Narcissism: a required element within normal developmentEdit

Healthy narcissism exists in all individuals. Sigmund Freud says that this is an original state from the individual from where to develop the love object. Freud argues that healthy narcissism is an essential part in normal development.[17] The love of the parents for their child and their attitude towards their child could be seen as a revival and reproduction of their own narcissism according to Wikipedia:Freud in On Narcissism: An Introduction.[18] The child has an Wikipedia:omnipotence of thought. The parents stimulate that feeling because in their child they see the things that they have never reached themselves. Compared to neutral observations, the parents tend to overvalue the qualities of their child. When parents act in an extreme opposite style and the child is rejected or inconsistently reinforced depending on the mood of the parent, the self-needs of the child are not met.

Healthy narcissism in relation to the pathological conditionEdit

Healthy narcissism has to do with a strong feeling of “own love” protecting the human being against illness. Eventually, however, the individual must love the other, “the object love to not become ill". The person becomes ill, as a result of a frustration, when he is unable to love the object.[19] In pathological narcissism such as the narcissistic personality disorder and Wikipedia:schizophrenia, the person’s libido has been withdrawn from objects in the world and produces Wikipedia:megalomania. The clinical theorists Wikipedia:Kernberg, Wikipedia:Kohut and Millon all see pathological narcissism as a possible outcome in response to unempathetic and inconsistent early childhood interactions. They suggested that narcissists try to compensate in adult relationships.[20] The pathological condition of narcissism is, as Sigmund Freud suggested, a magnified, extreme manifestation of healthy narcissism. With regard to the condition of healthy narcissism, it is suggested that this is correlated with good psychological health. Self-esteem works as a mediator between narcissism and psychological health. Therefore, because of their elevated self-esteem, deriving from self-perceptions of competence and likability, high narcissists are relatively free of worry and gloom.[21] Other researchers suggested that healthy narcissism cannot be seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad’; however, it depends on the contexts and outcomes being measured. In certain social contexts such as initiating social relationships, and with certain outcome variables, such as feeling good about oneself, healthy narcissism can be helpful. In other contexts, such as maintaining long-term relationships and with other outcome variables, such as accurate self-knowledge, healthy narcissism can be unhelpful.[22]

In popular cultureEdit

Various books and films have been written on the subject of narcissism such as Wikipedia:The Picture of Dorian Gray by Wikipedia:Oscar Wilde (who was a self-confessed narcissist), Wikipedia:White Oleander, Sunset Boulevard and Wikipedia:Paradise Lost by Wikipedia:John Milton.

Rock musician Kurt Cobain wrote, "I must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they're gone"[23] and the lyric "I love myself better than you / I know it's wrong so what should I do?"[24]

See alsoEdit


This article may contain material from Wikipedia
An article on this subject has been redirected
to another page on WP:
Narcissism (psychology)
Current versions of the GNU FDL article on Wikipedia may contain information useful to the improvement of this article

This is the original article, which never should have been merged with the politicized drivel of the lazy and/or uninformed

"however the coverage of narcissism in general on Wikipedia is crap - many knowledgeable people have been frightened away in the past. Somewhere it needs to spell out what narcissistic supply, narcissistic rage, narcissistic injury, narcissistic envy, secondary narcissism, pathological narcissism all are. Also there is no mention that control freaks are often narcissists. It would also be good to tie up bullying to narcissism as bullies are often narcissistic. Narcissists often use passive-aggressive behavior. Also a moderate level of narcissism is healthy. Too little narcissism is unhealthy and the person will be used like a doormat. Narcissism only becomes unhealthy above the midpoint on the narcissism spectrum where other people get damaged. It might be useful to try to graphically illustrate the narcissistic spectrum and show where NPD and malignant narcissism fit in. Also there needs to be explanation of the role of true self and false self in narcissism. Also the role of defense mechanisms such as projection should be mentioned"

That was the only cogent argument in the discussion, and believe it or not, it was an argument to merge. WP got around the problems of coverage listed above by adding an article on Wikipedia:Narcissistic personality disorder, which gets 112K hits on Google Scholar, compared with 57K for Narcissism


  1. Nestor, Paul G Mental Disorder and Violence: Personality Dimensions and Clinical Features The American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002; 159:1973–1978
  2. Freud, Sigmund, On Narcissism: An Introduction, 1914
  3. Freud, Sigmund, Totem and Taboo, 1913
  4. Paris, Bernard J, Personality and Personal Growth, edited by Robert Frager and James Fadiman, 1998
  5. Kohut, Heinz, The Analysis of the Self, 1971
  6. Kohut, Heinz, Forms and Transformations of Narcissism, 1966
  7. Siniscalco, Raffaele Narcissism. The American Contribution - A Conversation with Otto Kernberg Journal of European Psychoanalysis, Number 12-13 - Winter-Fall 2001
  8. Hurlbert, D.F. & Apt, C., (1991). Sexual narcissism and the abusive male, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 17, 279-292.
  9. Hurlbert, D.F., Apt, C., Gasar, S., Wilson, N.E., & Murphy, Y. (1994). Sexual narcissism: a validation study, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 20, 24-34.
  10. Ryan, K.M., Weikel, K., & Sprechini, G., (2008). Gender differences in narcissism and courtship violence in dating couples, Sex Roles. 58, 802-813.
  11. Apt, C. & Hurlbert, D. F. (1995) “Sexual Narcissism: Addiction or Anachronism?” The Family Journal, 3, 103-107.
  12. Laura Stephens (apr 18 2006). "Narcissistic Personality Disorder". Psychology Today's Diagnosis Dictionary. Psychology Today. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  14. Foster, J.D., & Campbell, W.K., Are there such things as "narcissists" in social psychology? A taxometric analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. Personality and Individual Differences, in press.
  15. Livesley, W.J., Jang, K.L., Jackson, D.N. and P.A. Vernon (1993). "Genetic and environmental contributions to dimensions of personality disorder". American Journal of Psychiatry 150, 1826-1831. Abstract online. Accessed Wikipedia:June 18, Wikipedia:2006.
  16. Moore & Fine (1990). Psychoanalytic Terms & Concept. The American Psychoanalytic Association: New York.
  17. Freud: On Narcissism
  18. Freud, Sigmund. (1914). On Narcissism: An Introduction. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 67-102.
  19., psychoanalyticus Willy Depecker
  20. Morf, Caroline C. and Rhodewalt, Frederick. (2001). Unraveling the Paradoxes of Narcissism: A Dynamic Self-Regulatory Processing Model. Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 12, No. 4, 177-196.
  21. Sedikides, C., Rudich, E.A., Gregg, A.P., Kumashiro, Ml, & Rusbult, C. (2004). Are Normal Narcissists Psychologically Healthy?: self-esteem matters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 400-416.
  22. Campbell, W.K., & Foster, J.D. The Narcissistic Self: Background and extended agency model and ongoing controversies. Sedikides and Spencer. The Self, Psychology Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1-84169-439-9
  23. Death Of Kurt Cobain, From Wiki
  24. On A Plain, 1991

External linksEdit

Narcissism on Wiktionary

da:Narcissisme de:Narzissmus es:Narcisismo eo:Narcisismo fr:Narcissisme he:נרקיסיזם hu:Nárcizmus nl:Narcisme ja:ナルシシズム pl:Narcyzm ru:Нарциссизм fi:Narsismi sv:Narcissism tr:Narsisizm

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