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Lost to Himself: Narcissus and Freud's Theory of Narcissism Reinterpreted

Lost to Himself: Narcissus and Freud's Theory of Narcissism Reinterpreted We tend to think of Narcissus as foolishly enamored with his own image, morbidly preoccupied with self-love. Yet when we study him closely in Ovid's Metamorphoses, he does not seem to recognize himself in the water but believes to be encountering another person; he appears lost to himself. Freud's theories of ego formation, narcissism, and melancholia are examined for explanations of this loss. In contrast to Freud, who believed that identification with the lost object facilitates the subject's separation from it, identification is redescribed as a mechanism preserving the (imaginary) union with the object. Identification with the negative object is viewed as an inevitable aspect of ego formation rather than only as indicative of depressive pathology. Finally, narcissism, initially defined as a state of diminished object cathexis, is understood as a defense structure disavowing separation and leading to the conflation of self and other. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Psychoanalytic Review Guilford Press

Lost to Himself: Narcissus and Freud's Theory of Narcissism Reinterpreted

The Psychoanalytic Review , Volume 106 (2): 18 – Apr 1, 2019

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Publisher
Guilford Press
Copyright
Copyright © The Guilford Press
ISSN
0033-2836
DOI
10.1521/prev.2019.106.2.113
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We tend to think of Narcissus as foolishly enamored with his own image, morbidly preoccupied with self-love. Yet when we study him closely in Ovid's Metamorphoses, he does not seem to recognize himself in the water but believes to be encountering another person; he appears lost to himself. Freud's theories of ego formation, narcissism, and melancholia are examined for explanations of this loss. In contrast to Freud, who believed that identification with the lost object facilitates the subject's separation from it, identification is redescribed as a mechanism preserving the (imaginary) union with the object. Identification with the negative object is viewed as an inevitable aspect of ego formation rather than only as indicative of depressive pathology. Finally, narcissism, initially defined as a state of diminished object cathexis, is understood as a defense structure disavowing separation and leading to the conflation of self and other.

Journal

The Psychoanalytic ReviewGuilford Press

Published: Apr 1, 2019

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