I was thinking this weekend about the concept of a vampire doing self affirmations like Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live. He sits in front of a mirror and tells his reflection “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it, people like me.” But then it occurred to me, vampires have no reflection.
Now, recall dear reader, I proposed vampires as a good analogy for narcissists (as have others). But if you back to the root of narcissism, the original narcissist, you must learn the story of Narcissus. In Greek mythology, Narcissus falls in love with own reflection, not realizing it is not someone else. He sits by the pool of water staring into his reflection until he either dies of desire or kills himself, depending what version you read. The whole idea of narcissism is that the narcissist has no true self and only exists as a reflection from other people.
So is my analogy doomed? I would argue it is not.
We all have a true self and a false self. Our inner identity and the one we present to the world. I some people there is very little difference. But in some, specifically the narcissist, the difference is so great, the true self essentially disappears over time leaving only the false self. When we look in a mirror, we see ourselves for when we truly are. There are no selfie filters, no distractions. Try just sitting and staring into a mirror for five minutes straight sometime and tell me how it made you feel. It’s hard to do. It’s hard for any of us to sit with who we really are. But for a narcissist, it is impossible. They will cease to exist. Because there is no true self. It died long ago when they became vampires. With no true self there to cast a reflection, the narcissist faces a blank mirror. They can create their false self there through delusions, projection, grandiosity. But they will never have a true reflection.
They feed on their human prey to gain the narcissistic supply they need to maintain this false reflection. The more they get you to dislike your reflection, the true self, the more power they gain. The more they get you to doubt your reflection through gaslighting and the like, the more power they gain. And the more they can take from the young, the younger their reflection remains. Vampires may be okay with being old, but narcissists definitely are not.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? You better hope that mirror repeats the narcissist’s name back to them because if that mirror doesn’t keep up the lie of the false self, there will be poisoned apples in the works. And if your magical hair keeps up the illusion of eternal youth for the narcissist, good luck escaping that tower. It will be tall and filled with lies. The narcissist will never let you go. Unless, of course, you make sure they do.
Dracula may leave a trail of bodies, but in the end, he fades away into the sunlight and the heroine lives happily ever after (and hopefully gets treatment for what I assume would be a really bad case of PTSD). The princess’s plight seems hopeless, but there’s always a happy ending. She lets it go into the unknown and no one knows how far she’ll go and all those other Disney songs. She used to wait around for a prince but she has since figured out princes tend to be narcissists anyway and she’s better off doing it herself.
In the end, Narcissus can’t keep his reflection going. The water dries up. Or maybe the illusion. He dies and turns into a beautiful flower. That, dear reader, is where narcissus flowers come from. Because even from the destruction of narcissists, one can bloom into something beautiful and real. Those flowers are wondrous and gosh darn it, people like them. And they like you too. Just the way you are.