Narcissism, Secondary

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Secondary narcissism corresponds to the return to the ego of the libido, withdrawn from objects. Freud described this for the first time (1914c) in relation to a state he called "paraphrenia," which corresponded to the precocious dementia of Kraepelin or to the schizophrenia of Bleuler. Withdrawal of the libidinal investment in objects, followed by a re-investment in the ego, was considered responsible for two characteristic manifestations: lack of interest in the external world and delusions of grandeur.

Another approach to narcissism was indicated in the last section of "On Narcissism: An Introduction," on the basis of original narcissism. The construction of an ego ideal played a central role in the psychology of repression, conceived as a result of the conflict between instinctive drives and cultural representations. This is the narcissistic aspect of a structure of surveillance, of which Freud would complete the description in 1923, with The Ego and the Id (1923b). Freud in 1914 had moreover attributed the critical voices of the delusion of being watched, of paranoia, rising out of regression, to this surveillance mechanism.

Finally, the interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci's homosexuality (1910c) constituted the descriptive model of a process of identification by replacement of an object investment (the mother), and by the introjection of the qualities of this object (identification). This identification process was taken up again in "Mourning and Melancholia" (1917e), where Freud discussed narcissistic identification. He returned to it again in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921c) and finally in The Ego and the Id (1923b).

Michel Vincent

See also: Narcissism, Narcissism, primary; Superego; Tics


Freud, Sigmund. (1910c). Leonardo da Vinci and a memory of his childhood. SE, 11: 57-137.

. (1914c). On narcissism: An introduction. SE, 14: 67-102.

. (1916-17g [1915]). Mourning and melancholia. SE, 14: 237-258.

. (1921c). Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. SE, 18: 65-143.

. (1923b). The ego and the id. SE, 19: 1-66.