Thursday, May 24, 2012

Narcissus Didn't Love Himself

Narcissism -- in both the clinical and colloquial sense -- is commonly considered malignant self-love.  But today it occurred to me that the Narcissus of Greek myth doesn't really love himself; he loves his reflection, which is merely a surface image.  The image has visual traits derived from the real Narcissus, but it is far from encapsulating the whole person. 

Narcissus focuses on maintaining the image -- just as some people maintain their outward persona -- while the needs of the true self go neglected.  Narcissus was therefore self-sacrificial; he sacrificed the life and fulfillment of the true self for a much lower priority, an image.