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The Economist Book of Isms by John Andrews

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Narcissism An excessive interest in oneself and one’s appearance – in common parlance, extreme vanity. The word was first used in the late 19th century; Havelock Ellis (1859–1939), a British sexologist of the era, for example, described excessive masturbation as “Narcissus-like”. It is derived from the classical Greek fable of Narcissus, a handsome youth who rejected the advances of the nymph Echo and as a punishment was made to fall in love with his own reflection. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus faded away, turning into the flower that bears his name. In the 1960s psychologists and psychiatrists began to diagnose “narcissistic personality disorder”, although Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) had in 1914 argued that a degree of narcissism ...

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