The notion of narcissism introduced by Sigmund Freud has become a victim of its own success. On the one hand, with its emphasis on self-love and new forms of well-being, it can take the form of a celebration of the self. On the other, with its range of negatively associated character traits, it has given rise to a burgeoning field of narcissistic pathologies.
The Soul of Narcissism argues that both perspectives represent impoverished and superfluous forms of narcissism, obscuring the vibrant notion that Freud put in place in order to question the very heart of psychoanalytic practice. This book proceeds by examining Freud’s introduction of narcissism in its historical context as a movement of reflexion on the clinical practice of psychoanalysis, putting forward a close reading of Freud’s writings that led up to his seminal paper "On Narcissism: An Introduction". Against the trend of current perceptions, it re-establishes narcissism as a methodology of reflexion upon clinical practice and theory, whose very motor is the unconscious.
In this way narcissism is restored to its fundamental place in psychoanalysis, rich with all of the life of the drives. This reinvigorated notion of narcissism will be of interest not just to students and practitioners of psychoanalysis, but also to all those who draw upon Freud’s study of narcissism.
Table of Contents
Prologue; 1 Return to Freud: What is a return?; 2 The beauty of a creation: Freud and Leonardo da Vinci; 3 The construction of a personality: Freud and Schreber; 4 Why introduce narcissism? The sense of a return of reflexion; 5 Narcissism and the duality of the drive: To and fro in a conflict of the drives; 6 From the function of the organ to love: Reflexions on the libido; 7 Estimation as development of the ego: The ego ideal in which the inside and the outside are articulated; 8 The soul of narcissism; Bibliography
Christian Fierens is a psychoanalyst who has practiced for more than 30 years in Tervuren near Brussels, in Belgium. He is also a psychiatrist, as well as having a PhD on the question of psychosis in Freud's work. He has published a number of books on Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, most recently Lecture du sinthome (2018).