Saturday, September 22, 2007

Many Faces of Narcissus


According to Greek myth Narcissus was a gorgeous person who, unfortunately was quite aware of and impressed by his own beauty, so much so that when he peered into a lake and saw his own reflection he was so enamored that he could do nothing but look at himself. He sat by that lake admiring himself until he died. According to myth a flower grew on the spot he died, and that is how the Narcissus flower got its name.


Because of this mythical story we tend to use the word “narcissistic” to refer to people who are egocentric or selfish.


There are also narcissistic numbers! What I mean by that is that there are some numbers that cannot get enough of themselves. The number 153 is an example of this, and here’s why:

1^3 + 5^3 + 3^3 = 153.

Since there are 3 digits in 153, you use 3 as an exponent and raise each digit individually to the third power (the "up-arrow" means to use the next number as an exponent), and you get the original number back. The smallest example of this is 1. It is 1 digit, so you raise it to the first power, and

1^1 = 1

so 1 is narcissistic. Can you find any two digit narcissistic numbers? There are exactly three 4-digit narcissistic numbers (very hard to find!). They are 1634, 8208, and 9474.


The Narcissus of myth was only a danger to himself.

The flower Narcissus is pretty - certainly not dangerous.

The term "narcissist" is usually only a convenient word to use to describe an egotistic person, someone who is annoying but not dangerous.

Finding Narcissistic Numbers is just a fun, not dangerous past-time.

Unfortunately there is a dangerous face of narcissus, and it is in the pathology known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. People with NPD can literally be dangerously abusive, but the disorder, for many reasons, is little known, and it is often hard to discern that a person has NPD until it is too late. In this case the consequences can be devastating. For this reason I am including two links in this post in case you feel an interest in knowing more about this. If you think you'd never be taken in by a narcissist, think again, a narcissist can SEEM like the NICEST* person you have ever met. Not only can they SEEM nice, but they can actually be extremely charming and charasmatic when they want to be - but the core their lives are defined entirely by deceit, a deceit that can be very dangerous to anyone who becomes close to them. Even if you are never taken in by a narcissist, someone you love might be, and this information might help you help them.

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