Section I

Freud begins with an historical definition of 'narcissism'. He refers back to Paul Nacke, who coined the term to describe a patient who treats his own body in the same way as one would normally treat the body of a sexual object. As such, features of this are found in many different disorders. However Freud proposed that narcissism is not found in neurotics only, but is the libidinal complement to the egoism of the instinct of self-preservation, and as such, is not a perversion, but attributable to every living creature.

Freud uses studies of sufferers of schizophrenia (Bleuler) - or 'paraphrenics' as he calls them - and obsessional neurosis, to propose their differential characteristics, with respect to megalomania and diversion of interest from the external world, which only extends to erotic interest in the case of schizophrenia. He then addresses the question of, what has happened to the libido that has been withdrawn from external objects in schizophrenia? Freud proposes that the libido has been withdrawn and directed into the ego and megalomanic attitude, otherwise termed narcissism.

Freud looks for reinforcement of these ideas in the over-valuation of thoughts, (i.e. megalomania) found in children and primitive people. In children in particular, Freud investigates the antithesis between ego- libido and object-libido - the more one is employed, the more the other becomes depleted (hence the development from the ego-libidinal stage to the object-libidinal stage, in healthy children/adults). As well as this distinction between ego and object libido, Freud also hypothesises a differentiation between ego-instincts and ego-libido (the Libido Theory).

In favour of this second distinction, Freud cites:

(a) Its corresponding distinction between hunger and love.
(b) Biological considerations where the separation of sexual instincts from the ego- instincts simply reflects the twofold function of the individual, regarding sexuality as one of his own ends, and as an appendage to his germ-plasm.
(c) The fact that some day these ideas in psychology will be based on an organic substructure, which will have different substances and chemical processes for sexuality and instincts.

Freud also looks at Jung (1912) and his arguments against Freud's libido theory. Specifically, he notes Jung's claim that the withdrawal of the libido is not in itself enough to bring about the loss of the normal function of reality. He replies that the introversion of the libido sexualis leads to a cathexis of the ego, which may possibly result in the loss of a reality. Furthermore, Freud attacks the failure of Jung et al to throw any further light on to schizophrenia or other neuroses, and therefore maintains the heuristic value, at least of the libido theory.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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