Sigmund Freud defined narcissism as “ego-libido.” In other words, it meant being attracted to yourself. Everyone has libido, but some people have a more noticeably narcissistic kind. People with this kind of personality aren’t exactly in love with themselves, though.
The point is that they seem very self-assured and think highly of themselves. They also have a subjective view of reality and see the world through that lens. That’s why it’s so much harder for them to deal with frustration.
As experience can tell you, too much or too little of something is rarely good. You should always try to find a balance. The healthiest option is to love yourself, but without creating a deformed or unreal image of who you are.
Narcissism in TV and movies
We can see very interesting examples of a narcissistic libido in fiction. We’re going to give you 5 examples that most of you will probably be familiar with. Then we’ll show some solutions from the psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, a major contributor to the subject of narcissism.
1. Tony Soprano (“The Sopranos”, 1999-2007)
This famous HBO mafia man is constantly trying to keep as much power in his organization as he can. He doesn’t have an objective view of reality. Instead, he looks at everything from his own point of view, which he always sees as the best. It gives him a moral pass for carelessly inflicting violence. There are even times when his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, identifies him as a sociopath.
Of course we can’t forgive Tony Soprano’s crimes, but our prescription for him is creativity. Seeing all the other ways of doing things and solving problems will make you realize that it’s much easier to take action than get frustrated. Focusing your energy on a creative activity lessens your need for other people’s attention and means you won’t think about yourself so much.
2. Joffrey Baratheon (“Game of Thrones”, 2011-present)
Joffrey loves everything about himself and never wonders if he’s doing right. In his case, the fact that he’s on the throne reinforces his desire for power and attention. He acts independently of outside factors, he’s aggressive, and he’s always willing to take action.
He might not find any of our jokes funny, but for him we suggest humor. Humor is like how you beat hardship. Laughing at yourself — or about whatever — will calm you down and make you feel better. All of a sudden, your burden feels lighter, maybe even light enough to forget for awhile.
3. Lucrecia (“Red Eagle”, 2009-2016)
Lucrecia is from the Spanish series “Red Eagle” (Aguila Roja). Her narcissism is more typical, because she likes showing off her beauty all the time and sometimes she’s very sexual. On top of that, back then women didn’t have a voice or a vote; all that mattered was their beauty. She also has high status, which makes her act confident and superior around other people.
One of the best ways to overcome narcissism is wisdom. If she could learn what’s most important in life and how to hold onto it, she wouldn’t let ambition and corruption sweep her up. She’d have a much happier and more peaceful life.
4. Black Jack Randall (“Outlander”, 2014-present)
Jack is a captain in the English army, and he enjoys using his power. He doesn’t care about rules, he’s arrogant, and he looks at everything from his own perspective. He’s also extremely aggressive. It makes sense because belonging to a certain social class can lead to a false feeling of superiority — and then narcissism.
One way to beat it is empathy. Connecting with someone else or putting yourself in their place will make you forget about yourself for a second. It will let less selfish, friendlier feelings blossom.
5. Ross Poldark (“Poldark”, 2015-present)
One of the best things about this character is that he makes a lot of mistakes because he’s impulsive. His high-energy behavior is very common in narcissistic personalities. His impulsiveness and rebelliousness is what keeps him from wondering if he’s doing the right thing. He just assumes he is; he’s very self-assured.
Ross doesn’t worry too much about his body, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know he’s attractive. We usually associate that kind of thing with women, but it actually shows up in both sexes. It’s also not always about being well-dressed, because there are a lot of ways to look good.
For Ross, we would recommend that he accept himself so that his mistakes don’t hurt so much afterwards. In one way or another, we all have to try to do the same thing: accept our flaws. You can still achieve your goals even if you always have your weaknesses in the back of your mind.
You can probably already think of other TV or movie characters, or even a friend or an acquaintance like this. A lot of people have narcissistic parts in their personalities. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing as long as it doesn’t get you out of balance.
You shouldn’t mix it up with just having high self-esteem, either. If you see that someone’s self-esteem is too high (and it causes problems), or you see yourself this way, the tools we’ve gone over in this article can help.