Narcissism and Selfies (part 2)

Welcome back to the two blog analysis of selfies and narcissism.

In the first part, we looked over NSI and learning by imitation as well as a brief introduction into narcissism.

Freud’s ID – Superego – Ego theory

This is perhaps the best way of explaining about the basic theory of why narcissism came about.


  • This is the primitive part of the mind, which always wants.
  • This is present from birth.
  • Demands satisfaction.
  • Termed the pleasure principle.


  • This is the conscious part of the mind.
  • This grows as the child grows.
  • This is the person’s rationale between morality and pleasure, and can also be where the person’s defence mechanisms are.
  • Termed the Reality Principle.


  • Controls the ID.
  • The last to develop.
  • Knows the difference between right and wrong.
  • Nudges the personality to behave appropriately.
  • It is the little voice in the head, which is our conscience.
  • Morality Principle.

If you do a psychology course, you are likely to see this video explaining these principles.  It looks like something from the 1970’s, but it helps to get the point across.

In narcissistic people, they have an over riding ID and their morality principle seems to not be there.

Development of the self

Somewhere in the development of the self, in between childhood and adolescence.  We are most likely to see the narcissist start their programming, (both male and female gender can be narcissistic).  If a child is following the normal developmental stages.


First, the newborn in the first few months comes to realise that its body is separate from other people and  their environment   Jean Piaget, a Swiss researcher, claims from his research that babies explore their environments to build an internal map, or, self schema using psychological terminology.  After the baby has gone through this, they then start to go through self recognition of themselves.  This can be supported by research by Lewis & Brooks – Gunn using the “Rouge Test”, which was published in 1979.

Children of various ages, 9 to 24 months were placed in front of a mirror and their actions to the following were observed.  The mothers pretended to wipe dirt of the child’s nose, but, they applied some rouge onto the child’s nose instead.  The child was then placed in front of the mirror and observed their reactions.  Babies aged from 9 – 14 months, they thought their image was another baby.  Babies aged from 15 – 17, some babies did realise the baby in the mirror was them, and, finally, the 18 – 24 month old children knew that the baby in the mirror was them.


This is the period of life where the most development occurs and most likely when the child starts to be programmed for narcissism.  The first step is self – definition, this is when language gets used with and by the child.  This gives the child self awareness, as well as being their own person.  Names during this section can make or break a child, which is also known as self fulfilling prophecy.  It is rather rather uncomfortable knowing that even in this stage of life, children can get expectations about themselves from outside sources.  This sounds like a time for the development of narcissism, how for will your parents push you to be successful?

The next step is the development of the categorical self , this means that the child is starting to notice ways in themselves that they differ to the other children around them.  Things like age and gender are first and then things like eye colour and hair colour are used.

The last two steps of childhood, the psychological self, and the development of self esteem, are two big contributing factors to the onset of the disordered mind seen in psychopathy as a whole.  Flavell in 1978 obtain research evidence that a child as young as 4 can often develop a concept of a private, thinking self that other people can’t see.  This is the development of a mind, which is to see and understand the mental states of other people.  Piaget, however discussed that in early childhood, children were still egocentric, this means that a child can only see from their own point of view.

Evidence for egocentrism came from his (Piaget’s) three mountain problem – if you study psychology, this will be in your course.  Piaget made 3 paper mache mountains – 2 small and 1 large ones.  Which looked liked the digram below:

As you can see in the picture above, a child was placed on one side of the table, and a doll on the other.  The child was then given pictures of different viewpoints of the model above, and they had to pick which of the pictures they could see.  The results were that younger children in the study chose the pictures of what they could see at the time themselves of the model.  This is therefore research evidence that young children can not think about the model from another person’s standpoint.  However, although useful, this study set up has been criticised for being too complex for young children.  This is also evidence that this could be the age were some of the narcissist’s self importance and the inability of taking into considering other people’s viewpoints come in.

The last and probably the most noticeable of the psychopath / narcs traits is the follow.  In older children, there is development of self esteem.  This is where a child begins to evaluate themselves.


By this time, the psychopathic pathways will have been formed and the child will be starting to practice the activities which will remain with them for life.  Interesting this can also be the period of life when there are more selfies.

Emphasis on how you interact with other people, lesser comparison with other people – although in today’s society it seems to be rife not better, an increased need for self reflection, body image is more prominent – and n therefore anorexia and bullemia nervosii can occur.

It is interesting to see how society is away from these researched norms.  Body image giving rise to eating disorders, not a lot of self reflection occurring in the young, a sense of entitlement and “me me me”.  Would it exaggerate the already psychologically disordered’s situation or hide it?  Society has changed to be more narcissistic and psychopath “friendly” in the last 20 or so years.  Selfies and psychopaths will only be more in the population, rather than hiding, they are coming out of the shadows so to speak.

I will have a more generalised look at narcissism and psychopathy in another blog post.  In the meantime feel free to share, like and comment on the two pages of this blog.

See you in the next post.


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