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The term narcissism comes from the name of Narcissus, a legendary character in Greek mythology.
There are different versions of the story, but according to Ovid (Metamorphoses 3.342), Narcissus was a handsome youth who was punished for rejecting the advances of a nymph named Echo. As the story goes, the goddess Hera became upset with Echo because her incessant chatter prevented Hera from catching her husband Zeus in his affairs with the other nymphs. Hera decreed that Echo could never speak first but only have the last word by repeating what had just been said. When Echo tried to engage Narcissus romantically, she could only respond but could not initiate conversation, and he rejected her. She was so grief stricken that she pined away until there was nothing left of her except her voice.
Narcissus was punished by divine decree to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. He was so taken with his own beautiful reflection that he could not leave it even to eat. He eventually also took his own life or pined away and died. He was turned into a flower that bears his name.
Several elements in this story make the term narcissism appropriate to name a human condition in which someone is so completely taken with himself or herself that others really do not matter. Those with this condition are relationally challenged and usually hurt and even destroy the others in their world just as Narcissus destroyed Echo by his insensitivity. Indeed, the name Narcissus comes from a Greek root word that means numbness. Narcissism is a condition in which a person lacks empathy and is numb to others and their needs and well-being. All that really matters to the narcissist is his or her image, and narcissism is an appropriate name for this condition.