Monday, March 12, 2007

Narcissistic and Self-Centered

In several conversations I’ve been in of late, the subject of narcissism has come up. (And in the spirit of narcissism, I suppose I should attribute that to myself.)

In a couple of those discussions, we’ve tried to contrast narcissism with self-centeredness and while I’m sure you could read up on the official difference between the two, as a self-centered person, I offer here my take.

To me, narcissism is where you see yourself reflected everywhere in the world around you, like Narcissus, staring at his reflection in that clear pool of water. In contrast with his reaction, though, you don’t necessarily fall in love with what you see. Still, narcissistically, you end of up attributing more of the world-at-large to your own influence and being. Consequently, the responsibility is overwhelming. When things go well, it’s your doing and when they don’t, it’s all your fault. Ironically, most of us (and here—narcissistically—I suppose I mean me), tend to be fairly narcissistic in our close personal relationships. When my loved ones are having a bad day, for instance, I blame myself; and to some extent, when they’re happy, that’s all me, too.

On the other hand, being self-centered means that you think the world revolves—or should revolve—around you. It’s not so much that everything out there is your doing; rather, it’s that all that’s doing out there ought to be doing for you.

The image is different: the self-centered person is the sun around which everything else moves; the narcissist is the moon whose shadow falls everywhere.

Toddlers tend to be self-centered; teenagers epitomize, for me, narcissism.

Cats are narcissists; dogs, self-centered. Descartes is the narcissist philosopher; Socrates is the self-centered one.

When I drink too much, I become more self-centered; when I get really stoned, I tend to be more of a narcissist.

The impulse behind writing a blog is self-centeredness; when I read it back to myself, especially online, I’m being a narcissist.


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