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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What do Daffodils have to do with Narcissism

By the time March rolls around we are usually craving the first sightings of our old Daffodil friends to make their appearance through the cold, muddy ground.

If you are into flowers then you may be intrigued by all the stories and lore behind their names, origins, symbolism and contributions. Every month has a flower and the flower for March is a Mediterranean native, the Daffodil.

The word daffodil comes from the Greek word asphodel which means "kings spear". The botanical name is from the Latin, Narcissus. Also called paperwhites and jonquils, they are the same flower, just used differently. Daffodils are used to describe the large trumpet type flowers and narcissi are used to describe the types with several fragrant flowers on each stem.

Daffodils are perennials grown from bulbs, and are favorites because they never fail to return year after year. Often preferred over tulips for the reason that due to it being a toxic plant, rodents usually leave the bulbs alone. Containing the alkaloid poison lycorine, the plant is poisonous if eaten. It is said that Roman soldiers  would bring the plants onto the battlefield and when injured to the point of death, the plant would be eaten to relieve pain and hasten the inevitable.

Though toxic if ingested, herbalists do use the sap as a cleansing agent for wound care, soothe burns and induce vomiting. It has been found to contain properties now known to help with Alzheimer's disease in the form of a drug called Galantamine.

Said to represent rebirth and new beginnings, daffodils are symbolic for spring, but also represent symbolic affection. When letting someone know that you feel the same way towards him as he does towards you, jonquil flowers are given as unrequited love.

So what do daffodils have to do with the word narcissism? You may be familiar with the Greek tale of Narcissus, the physically beautiful young man who being so self-absorbed, rejected all potential lovers. When he spurned the sensitive spirit of the nymph, Echo, he brought on the wrath of the powerful god of revenge, Nemesis. Nemesis caused Narcissus to fall in love with himself, to which he became obsessed with his own reflection in a pool of water. Not realizing the reflection was himself and not a lover, he became unable to tear himself away and ended up committing suicide by drowning. When the nymphs returned to take his body for burial, they discovered in place of where the body had been there was a lovely flower with yellow blossoms, and so gave the flower the same name, Narcissus.

The term "narcissism" was introduced in 1887 by Alfred Binet as a term describing men who were self-absorbed and incapable of developing a healthy relationship with another person. Its usage today stems from Freud's 1914 essay, On Narcissism. Freud expanded the term to explain the difference between being pathologically self-absorbed and normal interest in oneself.

People who find themselves in a relationship with a narcissist often don't recognize the signs in the beginning. In fact, the characteristics of a narcissist often are initially found to be very attractive. These people seem to always know just what to say and do and the partner may think he or she has found their soul mate. But then the roller coaster ride begins.

The meaning of love is full of myth in definition. It is not about inflated egos or manipulation or obsession. If a person is fine with being subjugated and having their own needs disregarded then the relationship may just work in its dysfunctional way. Trying to have a healthy relationship with a narcissist often proves very destructive to those involved, be it a partner, family member, friends or coworkers.

Narcissists have a profound inability to show empathy for others. People in their lives are usually there to serve a purpose for them, be it a financial stepping stone or just another piece in their plan for success. The term narcissus is related to the word narcotic, which in Greek means, "to numb". A Narcissist is numb or immune to the pain of others, they simply do not care.

Of course we admire a partner who is self-confident and a go-getter. But if there is a need for self-inflation, haughty, intimidating body language, the need to demand undivided attention from a group, impatience with the "stupidity" of people, quick to anger with anyone "wasting" his time, possessiveness over another, these are all red flags.

To make a relationship work with such a person, the partner has to be aware that they are basically dealing with a child. When children are small, they are naturally self-centered and think the world revolves around them. Normally, by the age of five, life experiences give them a rude enough awakening and they figure out pretty quick the reality of their place in the grand scheme of things. Picture the "everyone exists to serve me" mentality in the body of an adult with authority over people and it can become a recipe for disaster to the people caught up in such a relationship.

 To expect to be able to convince or assume such a person will take responsibility for his own behavior without finding blame in everyone else is a fantasy. To think that working harder, loving more or changing oneself will help is exhausting and possibly self-destructive.

Information for this post comes from the article:
Narcissism Isn't a Yellow Daffodil