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Narcissism ... is unrequited self-love. - Emily Levine

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one's own attributes. The term originated in Greek mythology with Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.


  • The trademark of a narcissistic mother is her inability to give love or empathy to her child. One of the hallmark symptoms of a narcissist is her inability to perceive others as people with needs of their own. A narcissistic mother is only able to see her children as extensions of herself-little mirrors that reflect back to her. She values her children only so much as the children can benefit her; she is exceptionally self absorbed, sometimes to the point of grandiosity. A mother with narcissism may demand that her children excel in school and sports for the simple reason that it will make her look like an admirable mother to people outside of the immediate family. It is of no importance to her whether or not the children develop, or even learn, from these achievements as long as her reputation remains intact.
  • Oh man, at that end not much has been left of your excellence, nothing of all that you have been boasting about through life - only sex, fear, self-admiration and a few other things you are usually ashamed of.
    • Karel Čapek, "Last Things of Man" (Stories from the Second Pocket, 1932)
  • The difference between narcissism and self-love is a matter of depth. Narcissus falls in love not with the self, but with an image or reflection of the self—with the persona, the mask. The narcissist sees himself through the eyes of another, changes his lifestyle to conform with what is admired by others, tailors his behavior and expression of feelings to what will please others. Narcissism is … voluntary blindness, an agreement … not to look beneath the surface.
    • Sam Keen, The Passionate Life (1992), p. 163
  • Consumer-orientated and media-saturated cultures have given rise to `a new narcissism'...within cultural studies there has been a recent proliferation of accounts of the rise of narcissism in analyses of consumer culture, celebrity culture and new media...narcissism is the pathology of our time...narcissism acquired its meaning and force as a critical term through its stigmatizing attribution to specific sexual and social groups...the contentious cultural and political history of narcissism needs to be acknowledged within contemporary theoretical accounts of `cultural narcissism' and `media narcissism'.
  • Narcissism is often the driving force behind the desire to obtain a leadership position. Perhaps individuals with strong narcissistic personality features are more willing to undertake the arduous process of attaining a position of power.
    • Manfred Kets de Vries and Danny Miller. "Narcissism and leadership: An object relations perspective." Human Relations 38.6 (1985): 583-601.
  • This story ["The Depressed Person"] was the most painful thing I ever wrote. It's about narcissism, which is a part of depression. The character has traits of myself. I really lost friends while writing on that story, I became ugly and unhappy and just yelled at people. The cruel thing with depression is that it's such a self-centered illness - Dostoevsky shows that pretty good in his "Notes from Underground". The depression is painful, you're sapped/consumed by yourself; the worse the depression, the more you just think about yourself and the stranger and repellent you appear to others.

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Quotes About Narcissism

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