Narcissism has been one of the popular mental health buzzwords of the past few years, and we're right to focus on them and pick apart their tactics so we can learn to avoid them, but what about those who are often in the orbit of narcissists but don't directly contribute to their behavior?
What can we learn of the people magnetized to narcissists, attracted to them, or who simply wind up in their circles without even trying? Could they be just as bad, or something worse?
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Opposite Side Of The Coin
By now, we all know what a narcissist is. Those who are completely self-serving, egotistical, and believe themselves to be the most important person around. The past few years saw many people not only learning what the term truly means but using this knowledge to identify narcissists in their own lives, understanding why they behave the way they do and how it's affected them.
What we learned less about during that period are the other types of people we see around narcissists often. Not fellow conspirators or those adopting narcissistic traits, but rather the opposite—those who are attracted to narcissists because they're the exact opposite.
These people are called echoists. As mentioned, echoists are the complete opposite of narcissists.
The term was coined fairly recently by Harvard psychologist Dr. Craig Malkin, who's been working on defining this personality type and categorizing its traits. Though they're considered the opposite of narcissists, they still fall within the spectrum of narcissistic personality disorders due to their proximity.
Though it's not an official personality disorder yet (as in it can't be diagnosed), it's rapidly gaining traction as a rising problem.
What Is Echoism?
As opposed to narcissists' desire to constantly receive attention from other people, echoists shy away from any sort of focus, even if the intention is positive, such as receiving praise or congratulations. They're more than happy to remain completely in the shadows, letting their work go unattributed and secretive.
Their aversion to attention of any sort is akin to a phobia. They'll dodge and avoid any recognition, thinking it's not important or unnecessary that their accomplishments be acknowledged. They'll celebrate on their own time, thank you.
They're naturally quiet, reserved, and tend to generally prefer their own company.
That Sounds Familiar...
Now, the wish to live further in solitude than around others sounds similar to introversion, but echoists don't need to be introverted by default, and not all introverts are echoists.
It's an easy mistake to make, but there are a number of differences that set the two apart.
For one, while both turn away from excessive attention, introverts generally still want to be recognized for the good things they do; they just don't want to make a show of it. Echoists don't want that credit at all and would rather let someone else claim all those results.
Putting Themselves Last
Furthermore, echoists have some traits that aren't attributed to introversion, such as the need to care for others.
While narcissists are driven by gain and selfishness, often not holding empathy for others, echoists only want to care for others, leaving their own needs behind. They're not so much people pleasers as they are unwitting servants. They will say yes to any request, push their obligations and desires aside for anybody they're close to, and do all this while believing it's their purpose in life or in their best interest.
Where Does This Come From?
Many echoists have grown up feeling like they're not good enough no matter how remarkable their accomplishments are. They were either belittled, criticized, or simply ignored whenever they felt the tiniest iota of pride, and thus they hid those feelings, so much so that it pathologically changed their behavior.
This is also the beginning of them putting others ahead of themselves, as this treatment made them think that others are more valuable and deserving of admiration. If others have earned love in ways that they haven't, maybe if they provide that love and attention, they'll earn it as well through mutual care.
Their Link To Narcissists
These people they end up devoting their time and energy to are often narcissists, which is why these two types of people are so often seen together.
Narcissists need someone around who will feed into their inflated ego and continue to make them feel superior. Having someone around with the deep need to gain others' approval means they have someone on a leash who can get to do whatever they want.
Unsurprisingly, this often leads to an abusive dynamic between the two, wherein the echoist suffers more under the narcissist's control, mirroring the same circumstances they grew up in.
The Defining Factor
Looking at echoism from an outside perspective without knowing the history behind its development of it, it seems kind of okay. Sure, they're shy, but they're helpful and humble too. How are those bad traits?
On their own, they're not, but another defining trait that makes echoism its own entity is that it's unhealthy. Traits that would be fine and good all on their own are exaggerated to such a degree that the person in question is ignoring their emotional, sometimes even physical needs in order to prioritize other people.
A Future Of Healing
And that's why all you can really do should you know an echoist, or if you are one yourself, is get professional help. The things you've gone through are firmly rooted in your subconcious, and won't be easy to just shake off on your own. You need someone who will work alongside you and unpack all that tension and pain that's accumulated in your mind.
You're not hopeless, though, and you don't have to be stuck this way forever. The biggest mental shift you'll have to tackle is learning to put yourself first, so let's start here. Tell yourself that you're worth the help and that you're worth caring about. It's true, it's an undeniable fact within all of us that we're worth the space we take up, and that includes you!
You have more to offer in this life than your ability to obey commands.
The Law of Attraction is something you can use to attract whatever you desire in life…if you know how to harness it properly.