Narcissism and Parental Karma

“I tell you, my dear, Narcissus was no egoist… he was merely another of us who, in our unshatterable isolation, recognized, on seeing his reflection, the one beautiful comrade, the only inseparable love… poor Narcissus, possibly the only human who was ever honest on this point.”

Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms

Donald Black, author of the DSM-5 Guidebook: The Essential Companion to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, explains the Freudian roots behind the term “narcissist”. Freud, he begins, “used the term to describe persons who were self-absorbed.” These people felt a “need to bolster his or her self-esteem through grandiose fantasy, exaggerated ambition, exhibitionism, and feelings of entitlement.” Freud was inspired by the story of Narcissus, a character of Greek Mythology. Famously, Narcissus fell into a lake that he spent all of his time staring at his reflection in. Bewitched by his own handsomeness, Narcissus’ obsession with himself was his ultimate demise. Narcissism does more than harm that narcissist themselves. Children raised by narcissists, family members, romantic partners, and even coworkers, suffer from narcissism in another. Attachment to any particular pleasure can be become a selfish act. Clinging to one concept as escape or meaning inherently creates an absorption in the needs of the self. Addicts and alcoholics, for example, are attached to their relationship with drugs and alcohol. Consumed by the pleasure they receive from this relationship, everything revolves around it. Many adult alcoholics and addicts have had narcissists in their lives whom they have learned from and been affected by. Until one gains the knowledge and awareness of anything, it is hard for them to recognize the patterns and behaviors which have been adopted. How did a narcissist influence your life?

You might feel that because of a narcissist’s overpowering personality, you allow others to impede in your life. You’re used to someone’s needs coming before your own and feeling unable to advocate for the opposite. As a result, you sometimes question if you act in the same way towards others. Fearful of unconsciously repeating similar behaviors, you ask yourself if you might ‘have’ whatever it is the narcissist in your life ‘has’. You recognize that whatever that thing is and was, you had to take care of it, especially as a child. You felt your parent needed parenting, and you often filled that role. Your world feels like it revolves around this person’s behaviors. Your feelings, thoughts, and sense of self seem to be deeply attached as well. Feelings of aimlessness, purposelessness, and loss of direction paralyze you in your decision making.

Refuge Recovery knows what waits for you on the other side of addiction. Detaching from what causes you suffering is a challenging, but worthwhile practice. Our programs of addiction treatment aim to help you live your best possible life again. For more information call (323) 207-0276

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