Narcissism_-beholder- Picture

nar·cis·sism (när'si-siz'em) or nar·cism (när'siz'em)
1. Excessive love or admiration of or sexual desire for one's own self or body
2. A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem.
3. Erotic pleasure derived from contemplation or admiration of one's own body or self, especially as a fixation on or a regression to an infantile stage of development.
4. The attribute of the human psyche characterized by admiration of oneself but within normal limits.

It seems that people are becoming more and more obsessed with beauty. Society has practically forced us to do so, but before the media told us what was aesthetically pleasing, there was evidence that we had a general idea of what caught our eye.
There are those that base their perception of beauty off their own self. Take for example the origin of the Narcissus flower. Greek mythology leads us to believe that this pretty white flower was once a young, handsome man that wasted his days admiring his reflection in a near by wading pond. For this, the gods cursed him by transforming him into the beautiful white flower to forever lean over the pool of water.

In the field of psychoanalysis, Narcissism has taken on a much wider meaning, and this type of disorder is seen only as the obvious expression of more generalized conditions of the human psyche.
Freud used “narcissism” to describe conditions whereby the patient’s libido is invested in his/herself rather than in external objects. In his paper “On Narcissism”, published in 1914, he distinguished between a primary narcissism, which he described as the love of self that precedes loving others, and a secondary narcissism, a love of self, which results from interjecting and identifying with an object.
He was able to define narcissistic relationships where the environment in which object relations are absent, and where libidinal investment is withdrawn from outside activities and interests. He also observed the ego ideal and self-esteem as being narcissistic in origin.
Therefore, in psychoanalysis, narcissism came to define a whole range of positions; a perversion, a type of libidinal investment, a type of object or object choice, self-esteem, an attitude, a type of relationship to the environment and a type of personality.

This photographic concentration deals with these situations. I have tried to depict the mind-set of a person that has an obsession with his or her own image. Through the progression of photographs you’ll notice the transformation of a simple admiration, to an aggressive obsession. At times, the people in these photographic dramas will do just about anything to gratify their narcissism.


This photo was the absolute last shot of the series. I shot this in the sculpture room downstairs from the darkroom. I wedged a broken mirror shard into the center of a rusty sheet of metal. I shot two frames: one focused on my eyes, the other focused on the rust around the mirror.
The composite of the negatives with the "Uelsmann technique" produced imperfect burns that added a strange halo effect. This actual print (imperfections and all) caught the eye of several critics and selected to be exhibited in the Peach Belt conference. It now resides in Bob Poe's personal collection.
Unfortunately, because you cant just reproduce mistakes like that, I had to scan the actual print from a publication of "The Review".
I had to do some "touch-ups" to the scan to reduce the obvious halftone printing, so excuse the condition of the image.

Continue Reading: Psyche