(Liberal) Narcissism

Authored by: Robert Samuels

Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalytic Political Theory

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138696310
eBook ISBN: 9781315524771
Adobe ISBN:


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This entry examines Freud and Lacan’s conception of narcissism and especially how it can help us understand the contemporary subjectivity of liberalism. In this structure, the ideal ego seeks to be verified by the ego ideal, and we can see this play out in the neoliberal meritocracy where every person is supposed to be rewarded by society for their ability to attain some predetermined goal or value. As a form of obsessional neurosis, liberal narcissisms focus on how one wants to be seen as doing good, and so one must repress any indication of the negative effects of one’s actions.

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