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Self love has often been seen as a moral flaw, akin to vanity and selfishness.[1]

In 1956, however, psychologist and social philosopher Erich Fromm proposed that loving oneself is different from being arrogant, conceited, or egocentric, meaning instead caring about oneself and taking responsibility for oneself.

Traditional views[edit]

Cicero considered those who were sui amantes sine rivali (lovers of themselves without rivals) were doomed in the end to failure – a theme taken up by Francis Bacon in his condemnation of extreme self-lovers who would burn down their own home only to roast themselves an egg.[2]

Augustine however - with his theology of evil as a mere distortion of the good - considered that the sin of pride was only a perversion of a normal, more modest degree of self-love.[3]

Twentieth century re-interpretations[edit]

Eric Fromm proposed a re-evaluation of self-love in a positive sense, arguing that in order to be able to truly love another person, a person needs first to love oneself, in the way of respecting oneself, and knowing oneself (e.g. being realistic and honest about one's strengths and weaknesses). .[4][5]

Erik H. Erikson similarly wrote of a post-narcissistic appreciation of the value of the ego;[6] while Carl Rogers saw one result of successful therapy as the regaining of a quiet sense of pleasure in being one's own self.[7]

Literary references[edit]

Malvolio is described as “sick of self-love...a distempered appetite” in Twelfth Night (I.v.85-6), lacking self-perspective.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ B. Kirkpatrick ed., Roget's Thesaurus (1998) p. 592 and p. 639
  2. ^ Francis Bacon, The Essays (1985) p. 131
  3. ^ D. Sayers, Dante: Purgatory (1971) p. 66-7
  4. ^ The Art of Loving (1956) by Erich Fromm. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-091594-0.
  5. ^ "How to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Start Loving Yourself More | Build The Fire". Build The Fire. Retrieved 2016-03-10. 
  6. ^ Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and Society (1964) p. 260
  7. ^ Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person (1961) p. 87-8
  8. ^ L. Anderson, A Kind of Wild Justice (1987) p. 116-8
  • shaw, Bershan (2009), Self Love Expert, New York: 68 Jay St, Brooklyn, New York 12001