Capturing The Narcissists

After Vicki called me a year ago and said; “We are the only ones left.” we began to have long conversations about the members of our family and how we – survived! On several occasions I asked Vicki to step back and listen to us, see who we are and where we are;

“We’re in Auschwitz, Vicki. We are brother and sister survivors of Vic and Rosemary, the Narcissistic Monsters who rued this day you and I got together and compared notes.”

“What is a Narcissist?” my little sister asked.
“I am going to give you the key to your cell door.”

After I showed her what Narcissism was, Vicki could now see them clearly in the murky pool of brown water, the men she bonded with, beginning with her father. On several occasions Vicki had said she married her father when she married Jim Dundon, and Ken Prather, two men who become upset if you didn’t put their name at the end of your thought. Jim and Ken had employed everyone around them and made Vicki their General Manager. Being a mere wife was too elevated of a position to the god-king. When I showed up at Vic’s house with almost a year of sobriety, Vic told me Vicki was his General Manager in charge of my work assignments. If you got near Vic, you had to perform a chore – especially if you were his kindred! When you came to Jim Dundon’s home, he put you to work doing leather craft. I, a un-famous artist, was put to work saving the expensive brushes one of Victor’s elves let set-up, he or she more then likely walking off the job in horror and disgust, because there is no pleasing the Selfish Giant.

“Take this brush and shove it!”

There is no need to declare Christine was Narcissistic, she posing for several of her infamous Rosamond Women, as if she was staring into a pool of bright clear – Vodka! Her biographer said Christine became her abusive alcoholic mother, Rosemary, who fought with her sister, Lilian, as to whom Errol Flynn was attracted to the most. Rosemary, Vic, and Christine consumed the resources and indentities of everyone around them in order to make it work for them. But, it never did. They could never get enough. They were the first to die, leaving behind Vicki, myself, and Mark, the Master Narcissist, who authored an epic Masogynist, Racist, rant where he lists the reasons why all of humanity let him down, did not live up to his standards, and thus – were parasites! Vicki told me Mark would administer a quiz to his sister after he explained the iniverse according to god-Mark. If she didn’t get it exactly right, he raged at her, shamed her. Finally she had it, and, Mark has disapeared from our lives. He was taken up by the God’s of Reason.

Vicki joined the Navy to get away from Ken who tried to get a contract on his ex-wife’s life because she dare walk away with something, a goodly sum of money from the sale of the houses she helped remodel. She fled to Captain Victim’s house, and told him why she feared for her life. But, Vic was not listening. He was transfixed on the big wad of money his daughter owned. For two hours Vicki discribed to me how hard her father worked to get that money in his pile. There were tears. Over the next month we both cried on the phone as we exchanged horror stories. Sometimes we whispered.

“They’re dead, Vicki. We don’t have to whisper any more!”

“The reason why I am more sane then my sibling is because you protected me, insulated me from them, the monsters. You were my real parents.”

“Vicki, we have to see each other. We have to gather our family in one place ,and count noses. Ding dong the with is dead! We are not the only ones left.”

Bill Cornwell and his Gernal Manager believe they have taken my grandson from me, punished me for telling Bill at the Grand Canyon he was not going to drive the rental home.

“Heather, I want you to drive us home.”

“No, I’m going to drive!” Bill said.
“No! Heather is going to drive!” I told Bill, looking him dead in the eye.
You should have seen the look on his face. No one has said NO to Bill in a long time – and gotten away with it. He was thinking of getting physical with me. But, seeing I could not be bullied, he stormed off. This upset Heather who said this odd thing;

“Your leaving him out!”

“You told me Bill was going to drive us to the Canyon, and you were going to drive us back. That’s how its going to be.”

Bill was already posting messages to his drinking buddies about how shit-faced and hungover he was. I’m sure he wanted a Tall Tell to tell his entorage, about his harrowing drive on Route 66.

Heather has become Narcissistic, but,she was raised to reflect her mother who was married to a famous Narcsistus, Randy Delpiano who served time in San Quentin for impersonating Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. When he got out, he did it again, ran straight to the Dead Pool so he could see, and have other see him as a famous rock star. Randy used people who fed him, gave him money,and screwed him thinking he was Weir.

The day after the Canyon trip, Bill had to go back, go back to Route 66 and capture his dream I interrupted, where he rides his sun chariot across the sky with his help-meet and Gernal Manager by his side. This time the Sober One would not be on board. Bill’s new drinking buddies would be a perfect complement.

Consider Facebook, and the photos of family children I have posted. In Oatman, Tyler Hunt is not surrounded by children, bit by inebriated adults who are in truth wounded children, wounded by the Narccisitc Monster that raised them and ruined their beautiful young image of themselves.

This was the case of my childhood friend who killed himself when I just turned eighteen. Bill was his own study of Narccisius. As a artist, poet, and playwrite, he knew his vanity was his life’s work and struggle, because he was taken prisoner by his Military father who employed everyone arund him, and young men in the service for his won vainglory. Bill’s father beat Bill almost everyday in order to break his will, so this beautiful young man would be – just like his father! Bill was Lt. Colonel Bryan C. Arnold’s bright pool of water, he born to be his father’s refelction, and echo his will and commands.

The autobiography I am writing is called ‘Capturing Beauty’. It begins with Bill’s story. It will end with my beautiful grandson and I being reunited – after all the Selfish Giants have been vanquished!

Jon Presco

Copyright 2012

“Beware, my friend, of crystal brook
Or fountain, lest that hideous hook,
Thy nose, thou chance to see;
Narcissus’ fate would then be thine,
And self-detested thou would’st pine,
As self-enamoured he.”

Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait. Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, “narcissism” usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person or group’s relationships with self and others. In everyday speech, “narcissism” often means egoism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.


Narcissus or Narkissos (Greek: Νάρκισσος), possibly derived from ναρκη (narke) meaning “sleep, numbness,” in Greek mythology was a hunter from the territory of Thespiae in Boeotia who was renowned for his beauty. He was exceptionally proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis saw this and attracted Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus died.[1]

Several versions of this myth have survived from ancient sources. The classic version is by Ovid, found in book 3 of his Metamorphoses (completed 8 AD). This is the story of Narcissus and Echo. An earlier version ascribed to the poet Parthenius of Nicaea, composed around 50 BC, was recently rediscovered among the Oxyrhynchus papyri at Oxford.[2] Unlike Ovid’s version, this one ends with Narcissus committing suicide. A version by Conon, a contemporary of Ovid, also ends in suicide (Narrations, 24). A century later the travel writer Pausanias recorded a novel variant of the story, in which Narcissus falls in love with his twin sister rather than himself (Guide to Greece, 9.31.7).[3]

Narcissus in literature

Narcissus by Gyula Benczúr
In Stendhal’s novel Le Rouge et le Noir (1830), there is a classic narcissist in the character of Mathilde. Says Prince Korasoff to Julien Sorel, the protagonist, with respect to his beloved girl:
She looks at herself instead of looking at you, and so doesn’t know you. During the two or three little outbursts of passion she has allowed herself in your favor, she has, by a great effort of imagination, seen in you the hero of her dreams, and not yourself as you really are.
(Page 401, 1953 Penguin Edition, trans. Margaret R.B. Shaw).
The myth had a decided influence on English Victorian homoerotic culture, via André Gide’s study of the myth, Traite du Narcisse (‘The Treatise of the Narcissus’, 1891), and the only novel by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist also starts with a story about Narcissus, found (we are told) by the alchemist in a book brought by someone in the caravan. The alchemist’s (and Coelho’s) source was very probably Hesketh Pearson’s The Life of Oscar Wilde (1946) in which this story is recorded (Penguin edition, p. 217) as one of Wilde’s inspired inventions.
Author and poet Rainer Maria Rilke visits the character and symbolism of Narcissus in several of his poems.
Seamus Heaney references Narcissus in his poem “Personal Helicon”[5] from his first collection “Death of a Naturalist”:
“To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity.”
Harry Potter character Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Draco Malfoy, was named after Narcissus, and was described as being incredibly vain and arrogant. Her sister, Bellatrix Lestrange and cousin Sirius Black were described as being incredibly beautiful before going to Azkaban, as were all members of the Black family.
William Faulkner’s character “Narcissa” in “Sanctuary (novel)”, sister of Horace Benbow, was also named after Narcissus. Throughout the novel, she allows the arrogant, pompous pressures of high-class society to overrule the unconditional love that she should have for her brother.
Hermann Hesse’s character “Narcissus” in “Narcissus and Goldmund” shares several of mythycal narcissus’ traits, although his narcissism is based on his intellect rather than his physical beauty.
A. E. Housman refers to the ‘Greek Lad’, Narcissus, in his poem Look not in my Eyes from A Shropshire Lad set to music by several English composers including George Butterworth. At the end of the poem stands a jonquil, a variety of daffodil, Narcissus Jonquilla, which like Narcissus looks sadly down into the water.

At the core of extreme narcissism is egotistical preoccupation with self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others. Some amount of basic narcissism is healthy, of course, but this type of narcissism is better termed as responsibly taking care of oneself. It is what I would call “normal” or “healthy” narcissism.
Extreme narcissists tend to be persons who move towards eventually cutting others off and becoming emotionally isolated. There are all types of levels on that road to isolation. Narcissists come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees. I would like to address how a person becomes an extreme narcissist.
Narcissism, in lay terms, basically means that a person is totally absorbed in self. The extreme narcissist is the center of his own universe. To an extreme narcissist, people are things to be used. It usually starts with a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment. No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he has a major attachment dysfunction. The extreme narcissist is frozen in childhood. He became emotionally stuck at the time of his major trauma of separation/attachment.
In my work with extreme narcissist patients I have found that their emotional age and maturity corresponds to the age they experienced their major trauma. This trauma was devastating to the point it almost killed that person emotionally. The pain never was totally gone and the bleeding was continuous. In order to survive, this child had to construct a protective barrier that insulates him/her from the external world of people. He generalized that all people are harmful and cannot be trusted.
The protective insulation barrier he constructed is called a false persona. He created a false identity. This identity is not the true person inside. The many types of false personas or identities that an extreme narcissist creates can vary.
Some narcissists may have the ability to change into a variety of identities according to the situation. The wounded child inside may choose to present a front as a “bad ass” and tough individual. He may look, by appearance, intimidating and scary to the average person. He could also play the “nice guy/person” whom everyone likes. A corporate type version can be one that is diplomatic, proper, and appearing to care but in reality does not. Another very likeable extreme narcissist can be the one that chooses the comedian role. He is the life of the party and has everyone in stitches, making them laugh constantly. Everyone wants to include this person because they are a lot of fun.
Try to get close or ask personal questions as to how he is internally doing and feeling and you will find is that he will quickly distract you. They will sidestep the question with another joke, making you suddenly forget what you were asking. Narcissists can be very skilled at dodging and ducking personal questions. If you press them, they will then slot you as “unsafe” and will begin to avoid you and exclude you from their life.
There is also the success oriented narcissist. She will be your friend and keep you close to her as long as you are useful. Once you do not have anything more to offer and she has taken all they wanted from you, you are history. You are no longer desired, wanted, or sought.

Zeus, the King of the Olympians, was known for his many love affairs. Sometimes the young and beautiful Nymph Echo would distract and amuse his wife Hera with long and entertaining stories, while Zeus took advantage of the moment to ravish the other mountain nymphs. When Hera discovered the trickery she punished the talkative Echo by taking away her voice, except in foolish repetition of another’s shouted words. Thus, all Echo could do was repeat the voice of another.
Echo fell in love with a vain youth named Narcissus, who was the son of the blue Nymph Leiriope of Thespia. The River god Cephisus had once encircled Leirope with the windings of his streams, and thus trapping her, had seduced the nymph. Narcissus was their child.
Concerned about the baby’s welfare, Leirope went to consult the oracle called Teiresias regarding her son’s future. Teiresias told the nymph that Narcissus “would live to a ripe old age, as long as he never knew himself.”
Narcissus was beautiful as a child and grew even more so as he matured. By the age of sixteen he had left a trail of broken hearts, from rejected lovers of both sexes. Narcissus wanted nothing to do with falling in love with anyone and rebuffed all attempts at romance.
One day when Narcissus was out hunting stags, Echo stealthily followed the handsome youth through the woods, longing to address him but unable to speak first. When Narcissus finally heard footsteps and shouted “Who’s there?”, Echo answered “Who’s there?” And so it went, until finally Echo showed herself and rushed to embrace the lovely youth.
He pulled away from the nymph and vainly told her to get lost. Narcissus left Echo heartbroken and she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens, pining away for the love she never knew, until only her voice remained.
A man named Ameinius was one of Narcissus’ most ardent admirers, and repeatedly vied for his attention. The conceited youth responded by sending his suitor a sword, telling him to prove his adoration. Ameinious proceeded to plunge the sword into his heart, committing suicide to demonstrate his love, but not before he beseeched the gods to punish the vain Narcissus.
The goddess of the hunt, Artemis, heard the plea and made Narcissus fall in love, but a kind a love that couldn’t be fulfilled. Narcissus came upon a clear spring at Donacon in Thespia and, as he bent low to take a drink, for the first time caught sight of himself reflected in the pool. Try as he might to touch this exquisite person in the waters, however, he never could.

For hours he sat enraptured by the spring, at last recognizing himself but tortured by the realization that he could never possess the object of his infatuation. Narcissus was tormented, much as he had tormented all those who in the past had been unlucky enough to fall in love with him.
Finally unable to stand the agony Narcissus plunged a dagger in his heart and died, calling out a last goodbye to his reflected image. Where his blood soaked the earth sprung up the white narcissus flower with its red corollary.
(Short Greek version)
Echo was a very beautiful and musical nymph who could sing sweetly and expertly play many instruments. She lived deep in the woods and denied the love of any mortal or god. She therefore attracted the hatred and anger of many, including the god Pan whose love she turned down. Pan caused his followers the shepherds to kill Echo and tear her to pieces that were subsequently scattered far and wide. Gaea, Mother Earth, received the pieces in her bosom and thus Echo, scattered now all over the earth, retained her voice and talents answering or imitating every sound or voice.
Echo was a beautiful nymph, fond of the woods and hills, where she devoted herself to woodland sports. She was a favourite of Diana, and attended her in the chase. But Echo had one failing; she was fond of talking, and whether in chat or argument, would have the last word. One day Juno was seeking her husband, who, she had reason to fear, was amusing himself among the nymphs. Echo by her talk contrived to detain the goddess till the nymphs made their escape. When Juno discovered it, she passed sentence upon Echo in these words: “You shall forfeit the use of that tongue with which you have cheated me, except for that one purpose you are so fond of- reply. You shall still have the last word, but no power to speak first.”
This nymph saw Narcissus, a beautiful youth, as he pursued the chase upon the mountains. She loved him and followed his footsteps. O how she longed to address him in the softest accents, and win him to converse! but it was not in her power. She waited with impatience for him to speak first, and had her answer ready. One day the youth, being separated from his companions, shouted aloud, “Who’s here?” Echo replied, “Here.” Narcissus looked around, but seeing no one, called out, “Come.” Echo answered, “Come.” As no one came, Narcissus called again, “Why do you shun me?” Echo asked the same question. “Let us join one another,” said the youth. The maid answered with all her heart in the same words, and hastened to the spot, ready to throw her arms about his neck. He started back, exclaiming, “Hands off! I would rather die than you should have me!” “Have me,” said she; but it was all in vain. He left her, and she went to hide her blushes in the recesses of the woods. From that time forth she lived in caves and among mountain cliffs. Her form faded with grief, till at last all her flesh shrank away. Her bones were changed into rocks and there was nothing left of her but her voice. With that she is still ready to reply to any one who calls her, and keeps up her old habit of having the last word.
Narcissus’s cruelty in this case was not the only instance. He shunned all the rest of the nymphs, as he had done poor Echo. One day a maiden who had in vain endeavored to attract him uttered a prayer that he might some time or other feel what it was to love and meet no return of affection. The avenging goddess heard and granted the prayer.
There was a clear fountain, with water like silver, to which the shepherds never drove their flocks, nor the mountain goats resorted, nor any of the beasts of the forests; neither was it defaced with fallen leaves or branches; but the grass grew fresh around it, and the rocks sheltered it from the sun. Hither came one day the youth, fatigued with hunting, heated and thirsty. He stooped down to drink, and saw his own image in the water; he thought it was some beautiful water-spirit living in the fountain. He stood gazing with admiration at those bright eyes, those locks curled like the locks of Bacchus or Apollo, the rounded cheeks, the ivory neck, the parted lips, and the glow of health and exercise over all. He fell in love with himself. He brought his lips near to take a kiss; he plunged his arms in to embrace the beloved object. It fled at the touch, but returned again after a moment and renewed the fascination. He could not tear himself away; he lost all thought of food or rest. while he hovered over the brink of the fountain gazing upon his own image. He talked with the supposed spirit: “Why, beautiful being, do you shun me? Surely my face is not one to repel you. The nymphs love me, and you yourself look not indifferent upon me. When I stretch forth my arms you do the same; and you smile upon me and answer my beckonings with the like.” His tears fell into the water and disturbed the image. As he saw it depart, he exclaimed, “Stay, I entreat you! Let me at least gaze upon you, if I may not touch you.” With this, and much more of the same kind, he cherished the flame that consumed him, so that by degrees be lost his colour, his vigour, and the beauty which formerly had so charmed the nymph Echo.

She kept near him, however, and when he exclaimed, “Alas! alas!” she answered him with the same words. He pined away and died; and when his shade passed the Stygian river, it leaned over the boat to catch a look of itself in the waters. The nymphs mourned for him, especially the water-nymphs; and when they smote their breasts Echo smote hers also. They prepared a funeral pile and would have burned the body, but it was nowhere to be found; but in its place a flower, purple within, and surrounded with white leaves, which bears the name and preserves the memory of Narcissus.
Milton alludes to the story of Echo and Narcissus in the Lady’s song in “Comus.” She is seeking her brothers in the forest, and sings to attract their attention:
“Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv’st unseen
Within thy aery shell
By slow Meander’s margent green,
And in the violet-embroidered vale,
Where the love-lorn nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well;
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?
O, if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,
Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere,
So may’st thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all heaven’s harmonies.”
Milton has imitated the story of Narcissus in the account which he makes Eve give of the first sight of herself reflected in the fountain.
“That day I oft remember when from sleep
I first awaked, and found myself reposed
Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where
And what I was, whence thither brought, and how
Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved
Pure as the expanse of heaven; I tither went
With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake that to me seemed another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the watery gleam appeared,
Bending to look on me. I started back;
It started back; but pleased I soon returned,
Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks
Of sympathy and love. There had I fixed
Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
Had not a voice thus warned me: ‘What thou seest,
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;” etc.
[Paradise Lost, Book IV]
No one of the fables of antiquity has been oftener alluded to by the poets than that of Narcissus. Here are two epigrams which treat it in different ways. The first is by Goldsmith:
“Sure ’twas by Providence designed
Rather in pity than in hate,
That he should be like Cupid blind,
To save him from Narcissus’ fate.”
The other is by Cowper:
“Beware, my friend, of crystal brook
Or fountain, lest that hideous hook,
Thy nose, thou chance to see;
Narcissus’ fate would then be thine,
And self-detested thou would’st pine,
As self-enamoured he.”

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Capturing The Narcissists

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    I forgive my daughter because she was taken hostage by a fully blown narcissist, and became dedicated to making all aspects of his life work for him – alas!

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