Reflections on Narcissism

The Greeks tell us the story about a young man named Narcissus.

Narcissus was a beautiful looking young man. He was handsome in every way.  Many young ladies fell in love with him and would follow him daily throughout the streets of their town, but, he would pay them no attention.  One of these young ladies was named Echo… she desperately wanted to express her love for Narcissus.

Unfortunately, Echo had upset the Queen of the Gods; Hera. As a punishment Hera made Echo unable to speak except to repeat the last three words of the person she was talking to… and those words were not reflective of the love that she had for Narcissus.

Poor Echo, who was in love with Narcissus, could never tell him how she felt. Rather, Narcissus teased her and she ran with tears streaming down her face. Aphrodite, the goddess of love saw what happened between Echo and Narcissus and decided to punish him.

One day he came to a pool of water and noticed his own reflection.

Narcissus fell in love with the vision he saw there.

When he saw his own reflection,  he tried to touch the face of the vision he loved so much, but it broke up on the shimmering surface. It pained him, but he was so taken in by it all that he could not leave the reflection.  He stopped eating.  He began to wither away and as a result lost his beautiful looks.  He became overtaken by the love he once had when he first saw his reflection. Eventually, starvation took the best of him, and he died.

Aphrodite hurt for him and made a flower grow in the place where he lay there along side the pool of water.  Narcissus flowers can be found to this day growing along the banks of pools of water.

This story is where we get the word ‘narcissist’ from, and we often use the term to describe someone who is painfully in love with themself.  It is a term that is used and misused by others often.

Earlier this year, I took a psychological exam and after spending some time with the therapist going over the result, learned that the idea of narcissism has evolved with time.  It is actually scored on a sliding scale between the two extremes of self love… and the belief that one may actually think themselves un-loveable.

Without going into all of the details, I was scored on the side of the scale that created a belief in me that I was un-loveable.  I didn’t see that coming… but after reflection and more conversations, I was able to see how it was true.

The subject continued to interest me, particularly because a friend of mine was going through a several year battle with someone who scored on the extreme end of self-love.  So much so, that after a break up, my friend found themselves dealing with a person who was becoming emotionally violent, largely because of the idea that he could not… and seemingly would not… let her move on with her life because in his mind, there was no possible way she would ever be able to live life without him.

He was consumed with the idea.

In his mind, everything that she posted on facebook was a reference to him.  It reminds me of the Carly Simon song… ‘You’re So Vain.’  It is nearly impossible for a ‘self love’ narcissist to believe that you can make any decision, or say anything, that isn’t somehow a reference to them.

Through this journey with my friend, I came across some interesting articles about the effects that breaking a relationship with a narcissist can have on you and your family.

For your reading pleasure… take a few minutes to check out one such story HERE.

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