The Narcissistic Homosexual: Genealogy of a Myth

  • Elizabeth Lunbeck
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Cultural and Intellectual History book series (CIH)


Among the many character traits associated with narcissism, perhaps none has proven more central and enduring than self-love. The Narcissus of classical mythology has long served in the Western tradition as an object lesson in the dangers of excessive love of self, and it is thus not surprising that the psychological use of “narcissism” from the start connoted an all-enveloping, pathological vanity and taste for self-admiration alongside what quickly would become its more technical referents. The sexologist Havelock Ellis, who is usually credited with having coined “narcissism” in 1898, used the term in reference both to a sexual perversion and to a state of absorbing contemplation and admiration of self.1 Freud, in perhaps the first recorded analytic discussion of narcissism, in 1909, explained to his Viennese colleagues that the narcissism on display in “being enamoured of oneself”—and, he added, parenthetically, “of one’s own genitals”—was normal, a necessary and “indispensable stage of development.”2 And his fellow analyst Otto Rank published a paper in 1911 in which narcissism was treated as first and foremost love of self.3


Male Homosexuality Paternal Authority Surrogacy Arrangement Object Love Heterosexual Attraction 
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© Sally Alexander and Barbara Taylor 2012

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  • Elizabeth Lunbeck

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