Vulnerability and Narcissism

We all freely use the term ‘narcissist,’ especially when we don’t like someone, but are you aware that the term comes from the myth of Narcissus? I promise not to launch into a Greek mythology monologue but this story has a point about vulnerabili

ty.

Narcissus was a beautiful lad (When was the last time you called anyone a lad? Try it, it”s fun) who did not love any of the maidens (another term to toss into today’s conversations) who loved him. One of the scorned maidens prayed that the lad who did not love others, would love himself. And he did. Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection as it appeared in a pool and, enthralled with this vision, he pined away gazing at himself in the water.

I know; it

is

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hard to be sympathetic to this lad who ought to have amused himself by helping his mother haul water but that’s another post. This is also why we have little sympathy for narcissists – they seem filled with self love and oblivious to the rest of us.

Back to vulnerability. In this narcissistic lad and in others, there are vulnerabilities:

1. They are only able to relate to themselves. “It’s all about me” could be emblazoned on their coat of arms.

2. They have difficulty with relationships because they cannot see others as separate from themselves. Others become objects to be used in order to feel better.

3. They are almost incapable of empathy because that requires walking in someone else’s shoes (and there is only one pair of shoes – theirs).

These are all vulnerabilities. You still may want to kick a narcissist in the teeth for being self- absorbed and making you feel invisible but it helps to understand the weaknesses that are inherent in these personalities.

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