The term ‘narcissism’ refers to an intense form of self-regard, or attraction to one’s image. The term is derived from Ancient Greek mythology, which tells of a young man called Narcissus so fascinated by his own reflection that he drowns trying to embrace it.
Famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud adopted the term from British sexologist Havelock Ellis to theorize male homosexuality as sexual attraction to an image of oneself. Freud later rejected this as an explanation of homosexuality, but he retained the concept of narcissism to describe the situation in which libido is withdrawn from external objects and redirected towards the ego. According to Freud, this is how children begin life (a stage he refers to as primary narcissism), and only gradually move away from this towards a situation in which cathexis is sought in the outside world.