“A genuine Narcissus”, - I thought. – “All-sufficient and self-confident, charismatic with an armor which one cannot possibly break through by a cannon. He is quite aware of his single value and truth, the real meaning of his existence and the ultimate object of his admiration and love – that is he himself. He shall go on rushing through the life shuffling people around like a pack of cards and never stumble. And he shall not fall to spite all of us! By the way a dozen of psychoanalysts may turn out to be in the card pack. A Narcissus will look for his right analyst and stay with each for the time the latter will be able to bear session by session the pressing atmosphere in the room filled with the grandeur of his narcissist client… You are not allowed to breathe a word that something might be wrong with him! Have you ever got an experience of long-termed contact with a Narcissus? You may be in the know that it can last for a long time on the condition that you are to follow the only rule: shut up and listen!”
Perhaps, we ought to keep silent and listen to a Narcissus?
He will speak to us, speak beautifully and ingeniously with a look of universal yearning and enigma concerning things which are quite common but illuminated by the light and greatness of his existence. In his speech he may add a bit of self-criticism but only within the limits he sets up himself. He can carry on polemics with us but in case we dare raise a delicate topic that we may have a right to express the opinion of our own or suggest the possibility of other centers in the Universe besides him we are definitely in the risk that not only the topic would be removed from the agenda but we as well. Behind of all his magnificence there is something concealed that makes him go over one or another person or psychological rooms. And he has much to say to the whole world. Let’s listen to his words.
"What can I have loving another? Only the pain and frustration, because "this other" will never be able to achieve my own level, and his love is only a weak shadow of my true and very strong one for myself. Why do I need to feed someone else's selfishness and meet someone else's wishes? Has anyone deserved me? May they lead me to the highest thrill that I can bring to myself? I do not want that your closeness (intimacy), because right after the pain and disappointment appear. And I do not want to feel the pain and cold ... I will not allow anyone to betray me, never! The only person who will always remain faithful to me, never hurt me - it is me! "
This emotional intimacy with another person is perceived as a threat to the secret and selfish love of Narcissus. Once upon a time, in his childhood he had experienced pain and despair of loneliness and insecurity, immersed in cold rejection or fear of losing the only source of warmth, love and intimacy, which is his mother. To survive mysterious forces led him to himself - in the relationship with himself, he found solace. He is divided into two parts: two selfs, creating between the two halves of a strong bond, which replaced the connection with an external object. But this dichotomy has remained somewhere deep inside, and moreover, it is not a dichotomy of two halves, no. Perhaps, Narcissus considers himself a unique, harmonious, integrated, holistic and self-sufficient, but in reality he is not, because he is not unity, he remains only a half split again into two parts. Now you understand how hard it is to live it 0, 25, who regard themselves as a unit? His other 0, 25, is constantly being projected into the outside world, so this world is impaired by Narcissus, other people seem to him no units but a pint, unworthy of him. Can you imagine how difficult it is to be with someone who treats you not as a unit but as 0, 25? Believe me - this is unbearable. But for Narcissus such a relationship seems flawed. At first, he may “complete a person to unity”, so to say, perceiving him or her in the light of his expectations and goals, the person may be interesting to him only in connection with his private plans. Either you are built into his world, and become a means of supporting his rules of the game, or become devalued, and can be removed as unnecessary. The problem of Narcissus that you could enrich his existence of high-grade bond, which, perhaps, would have saved him from a total of loneliness and fear of emptiness inside, but ...
"I deserve better, the best in the world, because I'm unique, I have been chosen. Yes, I am alone and so what? Is it my fault that there are not decent? What this hostile world gives to me? I am tired of these people around, all run for me and need me for something. If only I could create my own world, surrounded by beauty, where everything is harmonious and no place for poor and primitive!"
Inside the narcissus is still extremely vulnerable and dissatisfied and there is so much interior pain that if it were not for his skill ranked psychological defense, he would not be able to exist because its true 0, 25 will not withstand the pain and emptiness. There is a total disappointment to the world and its objects in his blood, at the same time, disvalued world around him becomes a source of danger, which should be kept under control. And how you can control, for example, love of another person? Just make a distance between, and if this person will approach, then he or she must be removed. Control and omnipotence - it is the basic way of a Narcissus, the source of his strength. Any threat to this fixed idea is perceived by a Narcissus as a threat to his very existence.
When a Narcissus is interested in us, he gives us strength, perhaps, makes it clear how we are dear to him and valuable. But we should not be mistaken, because in us, he sees only his reflection and his value. When we are in the field of a successful Narcissus, the light of his triumph and shine, good luck and wealth falls on us, and from this we begin to think that we are valuable that we are chosen, and we are fortunate to be close to a star. Every Narcissus brings to life our own narcissism, we are filled with the fantasies of self-worth and power up until one day the wind will change and something icy and rejecting begins to winnow from our star. And then we begin to deflate, we begin to feel ourselves little, useless and abandoned. So Narcissus wins back to us the plot of his own stories of loneliness and pain. If he could be our loved one, basically, only in our fantasies, we are in a desperate attempt to throw to find out the truth what we meant to him, what we do not have, for what we were suddenly rejected? We gaze into these bottomless eyes, full of mystery, which attracted us all this time, but do not see anything other than condescension and arrogance.
And we will hear:
"I know you will not like to hear, but you're just a person who just given to me for some purpose. No more. It seemed to me that we're on the same wavelength. Sorry, you're not what I'm looking for. I think that all people are given to us to reflect ourselves, to understand something about ourselves. For the first time I let you love me, but really, I'm bored. Your feelings complicate things, they become a burden to me. I know that I'm a complicated person, and it is not easy to stay with me, so maybe you need to seek out an easier person then he might love you. Find yourself someone that he might comfort you. I have my own way, you're not in the position to understand it ... "
From these words you start to feel kind of insignificant creature, insect. It seems that you have been used without giving anything in return. And because of it some emptiness settled inside you, cold emptiness, as if a black hole starts to absorb your value as a person, your dignity and self-esteem. Out of despair, you can literally beg Narcissus not to leave you, perhaps you will accuse him of inequity of your relationships. And his answer, his last words finally finish you off:
"But you had me, did not I give myself to you? You're lucky that fate though for a short time brought you to such a man. I deserve only gratitude. It was not easy for me as well to draw you to my peaks”.
At such moments, we must remember that this black hole lodged inside you, but it is not yours. It belongs to the Narcissus and is located within him. At this point you - this is him real inside, that was once destroyed, pathetic and lonely. You are fed up with that unbearable that he refuses to realize and accept and immerse yourself in the dark side of his personality, where his cruelty, coldness and the secret envy live. Surely you will run without looking back from such a man, because survival instinct will tell you that the continued presence next to him will destroy you, you will be poisoned by his distrust, fear and dislike.
Left alone with the most beloved man on earth, a Narcissus sighs and thinks:
"Well, here I am alone again. Why? Why do people always betray me? Why are they being unfair? If I truly be loved, I would never have been left! God I feel sorry for myself! Why do I suffer? How cold and lonely! ... And it hurts."
He will be facing a mirror and sees himself, so handsome, such an unhappy and abandoned by all, is not understood, not accepted, but not surrendered. And only his forever wounded heart reminds him for a moment when he was a little man in whose heart crystal ice had once appeared.
Once I was asked: "Is it possible to get rid of narcissism? » How does one reach the heart of a Narcissus? "
Former Narcissus does not exist. There is hardly a person on earth who has such a big heart to be able to melt the ice inside Narcissus’s one to patch up his black hole. Unfortunately, this sad story cannot be replayed, but still one can help a Narcissus. Just I want to say that this is a long way to the gradual transformation either through creative work, either through therapy or through sacrificial love. The effect can be different, but never completely successful. Because of the tremendous inner work a Narcissus learns to make real connections with real people, he learns to comprehend the value of another, the value of the non-ego. To do this he needs to go a long way through the strongest resistance of his narcissistic defenses, parting often very painfully with his/her illusions of omnipotence, power and perfection, through the emptiness, fear and loneliness, to accept the present, to mourn his/her unlived life, untested feelings. In such way therapy can be sketchy described. But the truth is that not all chose the way. As for creativity there are a lot of Narcissuses among the creative elite. They support themselves by their frequent fruitful activity realizing themselves socially or narrowly, but creativity is not in itself can help Narcissus to make full relations with another person, and that is exactly what he most truly wants, because only love can give warmth, the warmth that he lacked so in childhood. Only a real relationship can withstand the destructive demands of a Narcissus in constant reflection, in the thirst to see around him not men but mirrors, which are also, as a rule, always curving. And what about the sacrificial love? Yes, to be with Narcissus one needs a sacrifice there must be someone who will love him enough to bear him and will not disintegrate oneself, and who will listen to him without covering ones’ ears, and manage to discern among cruelty, arrogance and coldness, a desperate call for love.. This requires a truly Promethean work, and sacrificial love, because, as a rule, a man who falls in love with a Narcissus, and will stay with him risking to lose everything: his goals, the performance of his innermost desires, his own path of life ... Highly price must be paid for the heart of a Narcissus ....
P.S. There lives a Narcissus in each of us, but the situation today is that narcissism is increasing within us and in the surrounding world. Like any psychological phenomenon, it has a lot of pluses and minuses. But there is one more thing to matter. The story of Narcissus is a story not so much about self-love or non-love, I believe that is a story about how love is killed ...
(Moscow, February 2010)