This word is on everyone’s lips since we have studied its most famous representative: the pervert of the same name. If narcissism is essential to stand up and move forward, at too high a dose, it is destructive. Here’s why.

Let us return briefly to the Greek myth in its most famous version: Narcissus is a young hunter of exceptional beauty. Suitors and suitors assail him, he pushes them away. One day, while going to drink in a river, he sees his reflection in the water and becomes madly in love with it. From then on, he never ceases to contemplate there, desperately seeking to catch his image, until he falls and drowns. In desolation, the nymph Echo who loved him will forever return her complaints to him…

If a good self-image is vital in order to build oneself psychically and to be accessible to the world (the narcissism of life), valued excessively, it blinds and limits being: it is the narcissism of death. If we are in harmony with his image, we see him around the world. Like our reflection when we look at a landscape behind a window. But if we only see his image, the world no longer exists. This is why we say of narcissists that they cannot love since they take themselves as the only object of love. And this eroticization of their image is an end in itself.

Although indifferent to the world and to others, the narcissist may seek to be loved, to make one dependent on him. To do what ? to strengthen your image, enjoy contemplating yourself in the mirror gaze of others. Even if it means cheating: physically (abuse of cosmetic surgery, care given to one’s body, coquetry of all kinds…) but also morally (highly moral postures, fine speeches, feigned humility or devotion, brilliant actions in public…). The great narcissist – the perverted narcissist – cares less about who he is (so he doesn’t need to improve himself, to work on his wounds, his ambivalences or his flaws), than what he seems to be. ; or the object that he owns (his beauty, his beautiful car, his power, his knowledge …) or believes he owns, and that he offers to the fascination of the world …

Since he invests everything in his image, if he loses it, he loses everything. Thus the one who adores his own beauty will be able to commit suicide rather than grow old and no longer be able to contemplate himself in the eyes of others; a mythomaniac, like the false doctor Jean-Claude Romand, will kill his whole family on the verge of discovering the truth; a crooked politician will get rid of over-informed collaborators; the femme fatale can end up a tramp when no one is ready to die for her beautiful enigmatic eyes.

However, and the number of testimonies and books on the subject prove it, the great narcissists fascinate. Because they don’t feel the need to love, they give the impression that they don’t miss anything or anyone. We envy them for not having given up, like us, to infantile autoeroticism, this kind of psychic autonomy of the baby which, since he has what he needs to feel good, seems to be sufficient on his own. , in other words, does not need to love. What Winnicot, the great child psychoanalyst, called “basic autonomy” is given to him by the benevolent gaze (neither adoring nor disappointed) of his parents. The exit from autoeroticism corresponds to the investment of the outside world to find other pleasures there than oneself. But the counterpart is the end of imaginary omnipotence and the construction of the superego, that is to say, the internalization of the law. What we want in the great narcissist is therefore not to have given up his “self libido”, this illusion of omnipotence. Hence the fascination that great perverts, criminals, serial killers, mafiosi, etc.

Since we talk about it so much, is it because our society (education crisis, overconsumption, individualism…) produces more narcissistic perverts? The question is being studied everywhere since the rise of incivility testifies to a very regressive narcissistic push (to think that one has all the rights, including in the public space, and that one does not owe anything to anyone. .. And that whoever reproaches you for it awaits your dignity!) It’s hard to deny that new technologies have exploded this fantasy: the other is permanently available to us via the smartphone and social networks, you can transform the world into a mirror where you can admire yourself, into a setting for a selfie … Even in front of the most beautiful painting in the world, you are connected to yourself. We can also throw out compromising or humiliating photos of those we used for this sole purpose. Without any shame. But who does not really know shame if not… the perverse narcissists?

Image source: Getty Images

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