Narcissism: same sex identification (not
sensual or erotic). When viewers see someone in the work of art like
themselves, they identify with that figure and feel as if they could put
themselves in their shoes. Narcissism is different for men and women. For
men, identification and interest occur when the figure reflects how the
viewer looks, used to look, or hopes to look. It is as if the viewer is
looking into a mirror, for the person in the picture is so much like
themselves. Arnold Schwarzenegger became a popular movie star for a male
audience because viewers narcissistically could identify with that image on
the screen. They have, had, hope to have his muscles, physical strength, and
action-packed lifestyle (at least before he became Governor of California).
For women, same-sex identification does not involve being that person. Women
recognize not themselves, but a sister, mother, aunt, or girl friend in the
figure. Thusly, the artwork engages the viewer’s interest because the face or
body is familiar and comfortable.