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The Personality Disorder: Narcissism Essay

2189 words - 9 pages

The personality disorder, narcissism, was named after the Greek mythological figure Narcissus. The myth goes that Narcissus was so indulged in self-love that he gazed and fell in love with his own mirror image, refusing to leave he died beside his own reflection. In “The Double” by Dostoevsky, the protagonist too suffers from narcissism, an obsession with his own self. This self-obsession manifests itself as he finds himself reflected by the life around him, driving himself mad over the lack of control and grief of these reflections. Mirrors, Golyadkin’s doppelganger and society are all elements of mirror that looms over this internal conflict. As Golyadkin exclaimed, “I’m my own executioner!”(89) For Golyadkin his own refusal to fully comprehend and see fully his own reflection brought about his downfall. The conflict over his own identity shows that reflections serve as the cause and effect for Golyadkin’s decent into madness.
Golyadkin’s extreme preoccupation with his own identity in society turns the world and individuals into mirrors wherein he would perceive himself. He cares most dearly not for people but what impressions they have towards him. Evidenced by the way he acts and feels around other people. In Golyadkin’s conversation with his doctor, the narrator describes the protagonist as having “spoken throughout with the utmost clarity, precision and assurance, weighing his words and relying on those calculated to produce the best effect.” (13) This showcases how Golyadkin is anxious over the impression he gives and not over giving the truth to his doctor. This goes similarly in many of his bizarre behaviors in society. For instance, Golyadkin would “change(d) his big notes into notes of smaller denominations, losing on the transaction, but acquiring nevertheless a great number of small notes to swell his pocket-book.” (19) Evidencing that to Golyadkin, appearing richer is more important than wealth itself. For society reflects back his own identity and his action in it only serves his own ego.
This obsession with impression management explains his tendency for paranoia and self-imposed isolation. In many cases Golyadkin would avoid the judgment of others by hiding himself. He knows it is impossible for him to control their reactions towards him. In his carriage he would “lowered both windows of the carriage and began looking anxiously to left and right at the people in the street.” (7) Ironically, despite the carriage being another one of his instruments to make people view him as a person of status, he is more afraid of the uncertainty of their judgments. Golyadkin often justify his isolation saying that he “like(s) peace and quiet,” (11) however his desire and action says the contrary. The narrator writes, “sometimes he would dream that he was in the splendid company of people celebrated for their breeding and wit.” (94) If dreams show subconscious desires, this reveals that Golyadkin craves to be surrounded by people. This is made...

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