The celebrated actor Naseeruddin Shah once while replying to a question in an interview with Tehelka magazine said-"I like everything about myself. I am quite a narcissist."
Maybe Shah was aware of what he meant by calling himself a 'narcissist'. Loving your true self is a wholesome sign. However, the actual nuances of Narcissism involve a different meaning and substance.
As per the Greek legend, Narcissus was a charming hero who fell in love with his own reflection in a pond. The mythological Narcissus was a famous fellow whose beauty attracted many girls. He, however, used to ridicule them; at times, driving many of them to despair and even death. One of the nymphs Echo tried her hard to get his attention but failed. She moped in his love and prayed to Heavens- "So may he himself love, and not gain the thing he loves." And as the legend holds, Narcissus was punished for this indifference by Nemesis by making him pine away in love with his own reflection. The nymphs lamented for him and substituted a flower for his missing body at Narcissus' funeral. Hence, the name of a flower 'Narcissus', and the term 'Narcissist'.
A senior business correspondent for United Press International (UPI), Sam Vaknin writes in his book Malignant Self Love—Narcissism Revisited, "Narcissists are punished by echoes and reflections of their problematic personalities up to this very day. Narcissists are said to be in love with themselves. But this is a fallacy. Narcissist is not in love with himself. He is in love with his reflection".
Pertinent to note that Vaknin drafted the book while languishing in a prison for some offence and thereby discovered that he was suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
History has witnessed infamous narcissists. From Nero, Hitler, Stalin to Saddam, 'national passion' has been a disguised narcissism. Brutality and apathy were their hallmark. Logic made no sense to them, and they were out to kill sanity. And this all was perpetuated under the false idea of self-righteousness.
A study 'Was Saddam Hussein like Adolf Hitler? A Personality Disorder Investigation' carried by a journal Military Psychology (Sept.2007), revealed that a "Big Four" personality disorders—sadism, antisocialism, paranoia and narcissism—were common in them.
Glancing around, there is an abundance of narcissists. From politics to playgrounds, we have people who have a tendency to eulogize themselves all the time. They are impetuously 'political' and yearn to bask in their self-created glory. Such persons do not tolerate criticism. They concoct things and project false notions. Blinking over the realities, they build up unsighted worlds and silly utopias.
Is shallowness a precursor to narcissism? Do people need to rant and roar about their 'Self'—its loved dreams to its loved dangers to its loved desperations? Has narcissism come to stay as a brash display, a naked exhibit of everything related to Self, Me? Is it so malignant? From triumphs to tragedies, do narcissists spare anything for personal memory to merry and mourn? Answers are quite paradoxical!
Kashmir today presents a classical example of inflating narcissism. Everyone around loves his person and perception. People love the bloated images about themselves. They love their behavioral escapades. Adoring pretense and worshipping its pomp—whether it's their festivity or their funerals—weird self-love doesn't depart them. No remorse. No reluctance. From cheap publicity to trifling promotional drills, they leave no stone unturned to 'turn' themselves as the one among the many self-proclaimed thinking heads.
With 'caution' especially to our 'esteemed' politicians, who see a conspiracy behind every sincere suggestion and look down upon the people who put forth candid criticism for the greater good, narcissism is but natural. Though under the wraps. It has to be, as Alistair Mant, author of best-seller Intelligent Leadership writes—"All politicians are narcissistic up to a point. This doesn't mean that they love themselves or are obsessed by their reflection in the mirror. It does mean that they have an unusual capacity to shrug off inconvenient information, especially if it threatens their sense of self-worth. The truth is that politics is a bruising game and survival demands a healthy dose of narcissism – which brings with it the capacity to soak up punishment yet still spring out of bed in the morning with undimmed energy and optimism. That's till things go seriously awry – then they can turn very nasty indeed."
We don't expect applause from our politicians. We don't expect same from anyone else over here. The writers have to write and get castigated or even annihilated from any quarter. Their expression is to be robbed and roped. Their mind shammed and shackled. Their credentials probed and re-probed. And, of course, their integrity to be punctured and purchased. This is the rule of the land where intellectual anarchy is an unending rot. A land where disorder is to stay for disordered minds so that narcissists take a lead in becoming their self-styled 'representatives'!