What is Narcissism?

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Hello again…. I hope your journey ( not sure why I used the word journey there because I dont like it LOL……) but anyway ……I hope YOU have been as well as can be expected since we last met here. If you’re anything like me, recovery can be a bit like taking one step forward and two steps back ! But please do remember that there is  light at the end of that dark tunnel ! I know narcissism-hope-lightthat sounds a bit pie in the sky but its true…sure it wont be easy to rid yourself of your narcissist and for those of you who have done so the recovery wont be easy either …..but it can be done…..and I’ve done it !

 What is Narcissism ?

In this post I’m going to go what might seem like backwards to you and talk about…… “what is narcissism” exactly ! As you may have read, my first  post was about the characteristics of the narcissist.  I wrote that post first because when trying to come to grips with what I was doing wrong  in my relationship  , I wasn’t too bothered about definitions …I just wanted a list of characteristics of certain disorders as soon as possible so I could assess whether I was living with  a narcissist or if there was something else going on that was causing him to behave so badly……. or to determine if it was, in fact, my problem?

So ….what is the definition of Narcissism?

There are many but they are variations of the same theme and I am not going to choose one in particular here . They all elude to the individual having feelings of superiority , lack of empathy , the need for admiration, inability to withstand criticism or to show vulnerability and more . Hence the term “the mask of narcissism” that you will probably have seen and heard in information about narcissistic traits, because underneath  the mask will be a very vulnerable man/woman who cannot trust anyone and who lives in a constant state of anxiety and hyper-vigilance.In fact under that mask is THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT WE SEE, DAILY ! Not that that lets him/her off the hook or is any reason to condone the appalling behaviours and treatments meted out to their victims.

It certainly doesn’t help those of use who have fallen under the spell of a narcissistic individual  who has sent us spiraling into our own anxiety and state of hyper-vigilance!!

 

narcissism-mr big shot

Of the above behaviours and/or “needs”,  those I found to be true of the narcissist in my life were the need for praise whether it be for physical attributes or for success in business , the absolute inability to accept criticism even if given in a constructive manner , the complete lack of trust of anyone , the inability to show vulnerability AND the defamation of my  character to my own family…….making out that I was the crazy , inadequate one .

From these “needs” comes all of the bad behaviours we know to be true of narcissists, such as making others feel bad to make themselves feel better , needing to have the last word or sulking (silent treatment) or throwing tantrums if they don’t get their way in order to have control over others.  They need to know that everyone recognizes them as superior and they should be treated as such !

 What is the origin of the term Narcissism?

Legend has it that one of the Greek Mythology Gods was named Narcissus. So   who was Narcissus?narcissism-narcissus

Well, he wasn’t a very nice young fellow at all , he was vain and horrible to the young nymphs in the forest and delighted in tormenting them. One of the young nymphs prayed to the God Nemesis (the God of anger ) asking for help saying that Narcissus was unable to return the affections of anyone else and has feelings only for himself. Nemesis punished Narcissus . One day when Narcissus  was thirsty he went to a pool to have a drink of water and when he saw his own reflection he couldn’t stop looking at himself . He had fallen in love with himself and could think of nothing and no one else .He pined away by the pool until he finally died a lonely young man .

Here we see a good looking young man , full of self importance , needing to be admired , unable to return affection or recognize feelings of others (lack of empathy ) , feeling that he is superior , unable to sustain relationships, manipulative, arrogant and powerful . So much so that he falls in love with himself and ultimately dies because of his preoccupation with his own image! Do I hear bells ringing??!!

And now…..just to make your day I’m here to tell you that we are ALL a little bit narcissistic !shocked-old-lady-narcissism

…….but wait there….. that’s not a bad thing! We all need and desire love , we all like admiration at times and we all like to succeed in various aspects of our lives and be praised for it. Sometimes we can be lacking in showing empathy when required and some of us like having a power trip every now and then! So we can see that none of us is perfect and most of us are far from it!

The difference is that with “normal narcissism” ie. non pathological , the individual can be flexible and can recognize when those traits may be getting out of control . The “pathological narcissist ” is one who has no capacity to change their very rigid traits. The traits that are peculiar to the more destructive forms of narcissism are the sense of entitlement and the use of exploitation to get what they want .

So we can see that Narcissism is a trait that we all need some of and that can vary in intensity from not enough to healthy through to pathological which is known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder…….but that’s a story for another day!

I hope now when someone asks you (as they will )  “what is narcissism” you will be able to give them some facts and clear up some of the misinformation that surrounds this complex disorder . The first book I read about Narcissism was ” Narcissists Exposed….75 things narcissists don’t want you to know” by Drew Keys……which I consider a must read for anyone trying to “figure out” narcissistic behaviour and what to do or attempt to do about it . Knowledge is power and you need to start taking yours back . The best way is to arm yourself with as much information as you can so you know what you are dealing with…. and then decide your next steps!

Until next time please take care and remember you can……

    Please feel free to leave me a message below with your experiences with and I’ll be back  to you as soon as I can!                       

                                                             ~Bella~

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