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I am an amateur writer, just getting my feet wet. Blogging for me will be a launching point to get some solid writing done leading up to the eventual completion of the book that hides inside of me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yes, It Is All About Me!

“You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you Don't you? Don't you?” – Carly Simon
Do you know someone who is so self-absorbed that when all hell is breaking loose all they worry about is how it affects them personally? Someone who, when approached for understanding turns the conversation toward themselves? This person is, on some level, most likely suffering from Narcissism.

Yeah, I had to look it up too. Narcissism is a personality trait. It is defined as someone who is egotistical, vane, conceited or just plain selfish. But my belief is that is goes beyond simple selfishness. We all have times in our lives when we want the spotlight shining on us. Be it because of something wonderful or even something horrible that has happened, we want to be noticed. To have people pay specific attention to us. What makes the narcissist different is their complete lack of empathy. That is the inability to understand another's situation or feelings.

The word narcissism comes from Greek mythology. According to Wikipedia, “Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who had never seen his reflection. The story goes that the nymph Echo had been punished by Hera for gossiping and was cursed to forever "have the last word". Echo had seen Narcissus walking through the forest and wanted to talk to him, but because of the curse she wasn't able to speak first. Narcissus became thirsty and stopped to take a drink and saw his reflection in the water for the first time. Not knowing any better, he fell in love and started talking to it. Echo had been following him and started repeating the last thing he said. Not yet understanding reflections, Narcissus thought his reflection was speaking to him and became more engaged. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away at the pool and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.” So in that vein the narcissist is truly in love with him/herself, unable to truly see anything or anyone else around them.

It’s incredibly difficult to have a personal conversation with someone who suffers from this type of personality trait. To tell them about your day opens them up to regaling you of the latest tragedy happening in their life. No matter what pain you have suffered theirs will ultimately be worse and definitely more important than anything that could possibly be happening to you.

A conversation with a narcissist may go something like this….
“Hey, my mom is really sick.”
“Really? Did you know I was adopted?”
“Yeah, you told me that. Looks like my mom may have to have surgery.”
“Bummer, I never knew my real mom. They say she died giving birth to me.
“I know, you’ve said that before. Would you like to go with me and visit my mom in the hospital?”
“Maybe. I overheard my adopted mom telling someone that my real mom might still be alive. How cool would that be?”
“Yeah, real cool.”

I have had the not-so-wonderful privilege of being friends with a number of people like this, both men and women. I don’t know if it was because my self esteem was so low that I was just glad to have this person as my friend or if I actually found some redeeming quality in them. Most likely it was because it was like watching a real-life soap opera, listening to all the gory details of their latest dating disaster or family problem. Or possibly even an escape from my own boring life. But as with any type of drama it got old and the stories started sounding the same only with different names and faces.

People who are narcissists, I believe, aren’t truly bad people. The ones I have known have been generally nice and even fun to hang out with. Heck, they tell the best stories! I only wonder if they knew how they dominated conversations, and if they did, did it help them feel better? I’m sure if I had been able to dig deeper I would have found the reason they felt they had to be that way. Why they craved so much attention that if they had to they would make up stories to keep people engaged.

It used to really bother me. Honestly believing that my life was dull and uneventful. Now I find them rather sad. What do they do when there is no one around to draw in? When the party is over and everyone goes home. When there is no one left to listen.

So I ask again, do you know anyone like this? Do you think this blog is about you?


  1. Well, if I was ever one of those people in your life I'm truly sorry.

    That being said, you have just described my boss. Sadly, I love my work and our clients but I just can't continue working for this man. :(

    I've learned that with some Narcissists that if you even hint at the fact that they may have made a mistake they can be terribly vicious.

    I'm sure this comes from the fact that all they have is their self-image and if someone points out that there is a flaw you are taking away their life breath...

    It's so very sad.

    Thanks for the post Elaine.


  2. LOL Judith...no dear, you were not one of those people. As I recall you were (and still are) one of the sweetest, caring people I know.

    I think you are right about how they tend to lash out if they are corrected about their behavior. They can become quite defensive.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate it very much :) Hope all is well with you and your family.

  3. heh...no it's not about me but oh I know some of these people for sure!!

    It's hard to not get mad at them, but realizing that's just how they were made doesn't seem to help either. Making the choice to not have them in your life is hard, but it's often harder to be near them after a while.

    Psst...I'm going back and reading more now that I have a little time. I'm loving your blog Elaine!!

  4. I hope you didn't write this about me..... No I definitely know that this is not about me. But if asked I could give you a name or two of people who this could be about. I'm truly sorry that for any reason be it boredom or loneliness that you felt the need to suffer these people. Cause as you know I don't suffer these people well if at all.

  5. Thanks so much Mel! I'm so glad you're enjoying them. It's hard to know if people are even reading them sometimes LOL.

    I know what you mean about being torn between being friends and yet tiring of them after a while. It's very difficult.

  6. Yes, I know you don't Bob. LOL. But it's sure fun to watch you interact with them or anyone else you don't get a long with.

  7. This is a great blog - reminds me how much I love my own website, which I have been...

    um... oh, wait...

    I agree completely with almost everything you've said here. One minor point - while 'true narcissists' may not be 'bad people' per se, they can be bad for other people, depending on how desperate they are to feed off the energies of others. Narcissists tend to need admiration more than others, so god help the poor soul who gets tapped by one of these folks.

    Enjoyed this... :)

  8. What? You have a website? I must go check it out! :) LOL

    Glad you like it. Of course you're right Stone, narcissists do have the ability to suck the life right out of you.

  9. "Oh life... it's bigger, bigger than you and you are not me" R.E.M. Losing my Religion.

    Guilty of having been a narcissist at one point in my life. It was extremely hard to break of it, however, I am very happy to successfully rid myself of that baggage. Good of you to look into this "disease" in your blog, hopefully it will help others.


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