Freud’s Concept of Narcissism

"Zur Einführung des Narzissmus" (1) is a particularly fascinating text, but this fascination is a symptom. This text charms precisely because it is itself narcissistic, and seductive in the way that some beautiful women or Persian cats were for Freud (though in reality we know that, because they are sexual beings, they cannot be so). For this reason, Freud was always uncomfortable with his text (that is, with the narcissistic side of his theory), and later attempted to reject it. He was so uneasy with it that, just before sending an early copy to Karl Abraham, he wrote: "Tomorrow I will send you Narcissism, which was a very difficult birth... Of course, I don't particularly like it, but it's the best I can do at the moment." (2)Abraham's reply was praise for the text, to which Freud responded: "Your acceptance of my Narcissism affected me deeply and binds us still more closely together. I have a strong feeling of its serious inadequacy." (3) The reasons for his embarrassment were complex, and no doubt linked to the narcissistic relation the text establishes with the reader-and probably its author.

Sergio Benvenuto
REVIEWS. Jacques Bouveresse: Philosophie, mythologie et pseudo-science. Wittgenstein lecteur de Freud (Paris: Editions de I ‘Eclat, 1991).

Many French philosophical books have been published in recent years about "virtual" relationships between Freud and Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein's thought has become increasingly influential among French philosophers, though in a way quite different from the typical Anglo-American style of "analytic philosophy." Wittgenstein's growing prestige, however, clashes with (what remains of) the authority of Freudian psychoanalysis, which has dominated French thought for the past 25 years. How can one consider Wittgenstein an inspiration for a new way of thinking and, at the same time, claim to be Freudian?

Sergio Benvenuto
European Journal of Psychoanalysis