Narcissism in Greek Mythology
Narcissistic Personality Disorder derives its name from Greek mythology. Narcissus was a handsome Greek hero, the offspring of the river god Cephesus and the nymph Liriope, who rejected all male advances, even of Eros himself. When his admirer Ameinias committed suicide in front of his door in order to avenge his unrequited love, Narcissus fell in love with himself when contemplating his own reflection in a woodland spring. In the end, Narcissus also committed suicide.
The myth is most likely connected with the cult of Eros (or Cupid), who was the god of homosexual love. Narcissus' refusal to take a lover meant in Greek terms the refusal of the transition into adulthood because a homosexual relationship was an indispensable part of growing up for upper-class Greek adolescents.
The fatal consequence of Narcissus’ refusal is that he fell in love with himself and, thus, lived with an inability to have a meaningful relationship. In contemporary psychology, the term narcissism refers to a vain preoccupation with self or a preening self-centeredness and was first applied to autoeroticism as a sexual perversion. People who are undeniably narcissistic play powerful roles in the world. Indeed, many of our religious leaders, pastors, evangelists, and teachers suffer from more than a normal share of narcissism.
Still, we must remember that their own lives are not as happy as they seem. They are often empty and frustrated, filled with unfulfilled longings. The lives of those who love a narcissist are often painful and frustrating.