Narcissus was a figure in Greek mythology; a hunter who was renowned for his incredible beauty. A mountain nymph named Echo feel in love with Narcissus, but he was preoccupied with himself and his unmatched beauty.
Emotionally unavailable, Narcissus broke Echo’s heart and as often happens with juicy rumors, word of Echo’s heartbreak spread across the land. Ultimately, Nemesis — the god of revenge — heard of how Narcissus led Echo to heartbreak and she set out to punish him. She lured Narcissus to a pond, where he became engrossed with his own reflection. Narcissus fell deeply in love with the image and he was destroyed when he realized that it was merely a reflection. The story ultimately ends with Narcissus’ suicide.
It’s a rather dark tale, but it aptly illustrates many of the workings of the personality disorder known as narcissism.
Let’s be clear: it’s impossible to be in a healthy relationship with a narcissist. The self-centered nature of a narcissists precludes them from engaging in the give and take that’s required for a healthy, mutually-satisfying relationship. But this doesn’t stop others from falling in love with a narcissist. It’s a pit that I fell into myself.
What is a Narcissist?
To say that a narcissist holds a powerful self-love is put it quite mildly. A narcissist is the epitome of self-aggrandizing; this all-consuming superiority complex impacts every aspect of the narcissist’s life. In fact, narcissism is so consuming that it’s considered a personality disorder. While a majority of narcissists are men, it’s not a condition that’s exclusive to men. That’s because 25% of narcissists are women.
Narcissists may be cerebral and/or somatic. The cerebral narcissist believes that he or she has superior intellect, while the somatic narcissist is consumed by his or her physical beauty. A number of narcissists are taken with both their physical beauty and their superior intellect, making them a cerebral-somatic hybrid.
There are two sub-types of narcissist too: the vulnerable and the invulnerable narcissist.
A vulnerable narcissist is actually rather sensitive and they may experience depression or anxiety if others fail to treat them as superior beings. The vulnerable narcissist often appears as someone who’s vastly under-appreciated; their glory is simply unrecognized by the world at large. This narcissist is often a show-off in an attempt to display his or her superiority.
An invulnerable narcissist is essentially immune to any suggestion that he/she is anything less than superb and superior. This narcissist is unapologetic in her self-confidence and self-importance. If anyone dares to challenge the narcissist, they are met with vicious rage.
Some narcissists are overt, obvious narcissists who embody the most common narcissist stereotype. Others are inverted narcissists, who are parasitic in nature. They feed off another’s accomplishments and superiority and adopt this grandness for themselves. An example of this would be the stereotypical wife of a professional athlete or successful businessman. The wife exhibits all of the traits of narcissism, but she doesn’t want the control. She believes she’s entitled to enjoy all the fruits of her husband’s labor — the respect, the status, the money — despite the fact that she’s done absolutely nothing to earn or deserve these things.
The Narcissist in a Relationship
This is a bit of a misnomer, as a narcissist never really enters a true relationship. The term ‘relationship’ implies a give and take. There is no give and take with the narcissist. There’s that which the narcissist has; there’s that which he or she wants. The narcissist’s world revolves around fulfilling his desires — whatever they may be — because he deserves it. The narcissist adamantly believes he or she is worthy and deserving of all things wonderful and superior.
In a relationship, a narcissist cares about his or her own needs; there’s no consideration for the other person. Any facade of caring can usually be traced back to the narcissist’s self interests. For instance, a narcissist may do something kind for their partner, but that kindness isn’t rooted in love or a desire to please their partner; it’s rooted in a desire to manipulate the partner into doing something that benefits the narcissist. Manipulation is key for the narcissist, who puppets others in an attempt to fulfill his or her own interests.
If a narcissist doesn’t receive the love, adoration and respect that he or she feels is deserved, then they tend to get quite nasty. Increasing dominance is commonplace, as the narcissist over-compensates in an attempt to reinforce their importance and all-around fabulousness.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If so, then you probably know that attempting to maintain a relationship with a narcissist is a challenging task that often ends in heartbreak, just like the story of Narcissus and Echo. And some cases are equally deadly.
But if you survive your encounter with the narcissist, you’ll ultimately have a realization. You’ll realize that you were in love with a narcissist. And it’s a realization that can bring about a great deal of insight — insight that we’ll discuss in this week’s episode of Sunday Night With ” Scott Binsack”
So tune in with “Scott Binsack” as we explore narcissism, what it means to attempt a ‘relationship’ with a narcissist and how an encounter with this personality disorder can impact your life in a very profound manner. It’s an important show that simply cannot be missed!
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