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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 156 > The narcissist detox

The narcissist detox

It is well known that a relationship with a narcissist can be toxic, but there is often another player in the drama – the echo. Suzy Bashford reports

psychology

Greek mythical character Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in the water and stared at it until he died, would be chuffed with the amount of talk about narcissism today. Drop the word ‘narcissist’ into a conversation and most people know the kind of person you are talking about: someone with an inflated sense of their own importance, a feeling of entitlement and a craving to win, or believe they are the best – and they are often charismatic with it. People are also becoming aware that a relationship with a narcissist can be damaging.

However, there is another, equally important, character in Ovid’s myth – from which the term narcissist is derived – who barely gets a mention: Echo. Cursed by goddess Hera, she is sentenced to silence forever, only able to utter the last words of another, meaning her existence is dependent on the person she echoes: Narcissus. While narcissists come across as confident, charming and caring, this is often a mask covering insecurities, and they rely on others echoing and admiring them for their self-worth.

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