narcissism

Narcissism is an orientation in which all one’s interest and passion are directed to one’s own person: one’s body, mind, feelings, interests, and so forth. (…) For the narcissistic person, only he and what concerns him are fully real; what is outside, what concerns others, is real only in a superficial sense of perception; that is to say, it is real for one’s senses and for one’s intellect. But it is not real in a deeper sense, for our feeling or understanding. He is, in fact, aware only of what is outside, inasmuch as it affects him. Hence, he has no love, no compassion, no rational, objective judgment. The narcissistic person has built an invisible wall around himself. He is everything, the world is nothing. Or rather: He is the world. ― (1989a [1974-75]: The Art of Being, New York (Continuum) 1993, p. 117.)


In discussing the pathology of narcissism it is important to distinguish between two forms of narcissism―one benign, the other malignant. In the benign form, the object of narcissism is the result of a person’s effort. Thus, for instance, a person may have a narcissistic pride in his work as a carpenter, as a scientist, or as a farmer. Inasmuch as the object of his narcissism is something he has to work for, his exclusive interest in what is his work and his achievement is constantly balanced by his interest in the process of work itself, and the material he is working with. (…)

In the case of malignant narcissism, the object of narcissism is not anything the person does or produces, but something he has; for instance, his body, his looks, his health, his wealth, etc. The malignant nature of this type of narcissism lies in the fact that it lacks the corrective element which we find in the benign form. If I am „great“ because of some quality I have, and not because of something I achieve, I do not need to be related to anybody or anything. ― (1964a: The Heart of Man. Its Genius for Good and Evil, New York (Harper and Row) 1964, p.77.)

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