At the start of this Narcissist was a convenient label
and understanding that you are dealing with someone who has a high level of self absorption is a basic starting block you need to push yourself away from to get moving,
but wondering about narcissism, like most things would seem to be far more complex than that simple first understanding.
I read the story of Narcissus - just as an idle aside from some of the research that I did on the condition, and like most people I guess - I looked thoughtfully, but with no direct association, at the pictures of Narcissus. There he was a youth staring into the water at his own reflection, someone who was unable to tear himself away from the reflection of his own beauty until he eventually died there, so transfixed by his own reflection.
I skimmed over it - I didn't fill in the gap - I don't think the story is usually told with the gap filled in. But once you see the problem with the story - you can't unsee it.
A person - looking at their own beauty is so entranced they stay spellbound until death overcomes them....?
What I wasn't thinking was -" that's going to be a long wait"
I was also not noting that "He's not going to remain beautiful as he waits"
Not thinking about the deterioration and corruption that would take place between first glimpse - and death as he fails to care for his bodies needs either.
Sallow sunken skin,
Sores and wasting.
Sat in his own filth.
Nope. I managed to blank all of that.
When I thought in more detail about this I wondered. "So he sits, slowly dying , starving, looking at a deteriorating and corrupting body - a process he has set in motion and refuses to see that?"
And I realised that although the story is told one way, there is a distraction, a misdirection, (like with a magic trick, where the magician is waving coloured scarves in one hand to catch your eye, whilst he fishes in his pockets for something which will "magically" appear with the other) - the story is told with "beautiful" and "dead" right up next to each other . It is not told as the story of someone who sees amazing beauty in them self, even when it is patently not there.
The story of Narcissus is not one of a beautiful young man, it is that of someone who is self deluding to a point that it destroys them. I just assumed that Narcissus was beautiful..but actually, is he? We are told he sees and is entranced by his amazing beauty. Not that he is actually beautiful - he may well be the only person who ever believes that.
I just wonder about that, if that delusion is the narcissism, the condition, refers to? Seeing perfection in oneself in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Seeking affirmation of that in every action. Being prepared to sacrifice everything to that delusion. A person who lives in a separate reality - where they are more beautiful, more significant and important and good and righteous than the rest of us. Where only good things should happen to them, and when they don't it is because bad people make bad things happen.
The universe of a narcissist doesn't seem to allow for a reflection of difficult to interpret and complex truth. Instead we are all expected to inhabit positions of extremes, golden or black sheep children, minions or enemies. All supporting the delusion of different levels of importance, value and even perhaps goodness?
I can see the appeal in an unchanging reality - its so simple to live in compared to the nuances of behaviour and culpability we have to deal with daily. How blissfully simple when there are bad guys who are always bad and good guys who are always good. There is always a person to blame when things go wrong. Everyone is two dimensional, predictable and SAFE. Its like a children's story.
I wonder if that's how it starts? The child - who is to become the narcissist- so hurt by their own family, (as always seem to be the case), freezes everything. Stops dealing with the complexity of people.
Externalises the hurt in an unthinking way - ceasing to be able to deal with the of people being both good and bad at the same time. Reality shifts and the complex is wiped out in exchange for the simple.
They hurt me because they are bad.
They are a bad person - that is why they hurt me.
Everything they do is bad.
The label becomes the definition of the person ?
I don't know if there is truth in this or not.
I have found myself - endlessly returning to fairy tales with thinking about this condition - it seems so mired in narrative certainty.
In hero's and villains.
Is this because it is a convenient shortcut for me to explain - even to myself what I am thinking ? Or is this because the condition itself is constructed by people who never develop beyond that level of simple thinking, who pause then, as a child, when the fairytale is as complex as their thinking has developed and keep their finger eternally on that pause button
Because its a world of rules they understand.
A world when predictable things happen.
Its a world where they feel safe..yet I've got to wonder if they never catch a glimpse of their own corruption as they reassure themselves - Mirror mirror on the wall..
do they fear the moment that the mirror might say ....
after all - if you have to ask, how sure of the answer are you really?