Sunday, October 23, 2011

Narcissus and his twin - the myth

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the myth of Narcissus is about the lost identical twin. That means that what we call "Narcissistic personality disorder" is not a disorder at all, but a perfectly normal response to the loss of your own identical twin before birth, if you are a monozygotic (MZ) womb twin survivor.

Consider the myth: as related on a special site about narcissism

In this tale, told by Roman poet Ovid and remembered for his verses on love, a young girl named Echo falls in love with a vain youth named Narcissus. He was the son of a woman that the river god had encircled with the windings of his streams, thus trapping and seducing her. Worried for her son’s welfare, she consulted a prophet regarding his future. The prophet reports: Narcissus "will live to a ripe old age, as long as he never knows himself."
One day when Narcissus was out hunting, Echo follows the handsome youth through the woods, longing to address him but unable to speak first. When Narcissus finally heard her footsteps he shouted "Who goes there?" Echo answered "...goes there? ...goes there?" And so it went, until finally Echo showed herself and rushed to embrace Narcissus. He pulled away and vainly told her to leave him alone. Narcissus left Echo heartbroken and she spent the rest of her life lonely and pining away for the love she never knew. Only her voice remained. 
Eventually Narcissus became thirsty and went to drink from a stream. As he saw his reflection, he fell in love with it, not knowing that it was him. As he bent down to kiss it, it seemed to "run away" and he was heartbroken. He grew thirstier but he wouldn't touch the water for fear of damaging his reflection, so he eventually died of thirst and staring at his own reflection. The narcissus flower is closely identified with the boy and was said to spring from the ground around the pool where Narcissus died. In the roman version it is suggested that Narcissus is transformed into the flower.

As life would have it, the desire for connection, understanding, and proximity to the other becomes so great…that the longing kills Narcissus.

So many MZ womb  twin survivors have said to me: "I don't want to be here if I have to do this alone...."  They want someone to completely understand them in complete empathy, without a word being said.  If that doesn't happen and they are misunderstood, or are forced to explain or justify themselves to others, then that feels hurtful, disappointing - like a betrayal, a lack of love.

But not all MZ survivors feel this way.  It has puzzled me for many years that this is the case.

There are signs of narcissism in all MZ survivors, it seems, but the classic narcissistic traits of egotism and self centred-ness are exaggerated in some and less clear in others.  How can that be?  If it is true that narcissism is the longing for your twin - the other half of yourself - above all other relationships, then that fits nicely, but why are MZ survivors so different from each other?

Then I began to consider the timing of the zygote splitting.  Check in tomorrow for some of those reflections......

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