The scent of the narcissist

Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad is LeFou, in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” 2017 live-action adaptation. Picture: Disney Enterprises

Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad is LeFou, in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” 2017 live-action adaptation. Picture: Disney Enterprises

Published May 10, 2023


By Kameni Chetty

We at some stage in our lives have come across these existential beings but often we cannot quite discern these overt or covert, cloak-and-dagger suspects.

The ones with the most interesting anecdotes at a party, where guests sit around like children in nursery school awaiting story time. They are anticipating some enthralling great “tale”. Mind you, the most exaggerated narrative ever heard.

Yet there are some of us who are so quick to believe in every word. The I’s and Me’s surface throughout the conversation.

Unfortunately, there are usually a sparsely clever lot of people who notice this pattern as it occurred the previous night in “John’s” house. But the subtext in these stories usually scream out: I have the most interesting story. I have been through the most suffering and losses in my life. So, everyone sitting here must focus on me. Laugh at my jokes, cry with me as well. I have the tissues on standby.

So, who are these people? Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll and welcome to the world of the Narcissist. Along with many people, I have used the term loosely. But the concept of a narcissist is nuanced.

At some point in our lives, we all can and could exhibit traits of a narcissist. The selfishness, the me, me, me stories, but that is to some extent just a momentarily lapse of judgement. I have read voraciously on the subject matter and came across an interesting bit – if you think you are narcissist, 99% of the time you are usually not one.

Nevertheless, they can come across with a joyful display of affection to everyone in the room – a peacock in all its glory. The loudest voice, the “host or hostess with the mostest”. This is the Overt Narcissist. I often come to ask myself the question: Is this a genetic disposition? Was it circumstances that caused this alter ego? Can they be dangerous? So, who are these creatures who have inhabited the Earth? God knows, we all have enough to battle each day.

So, after careful observation and reading I have concluded, these are the type of people we read about in fairy tales. For instance, the Overt Narcissist Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast”. Then comes the not-so-obvious self-abasing narcissist: Prince Hans from “Frozen”. He represents a quiet demeanour in his disposition, but we later learn the manipulative and deceptive nature of Prince Hans – he is what we would call the Covert Narcissist. The evil or covert witch or old hag who offers Snow White a poisonous apple. How many of us have been tricked into these narcissistic blandishments?

They are like a sneaky card game going well only to be trumped with the “joker”, in meaning the narcissist. Or that character in the James Bond movies – James was so besotted by Vesper, and like countless times, only to learn that he too was a victim of a cruel game.

Perhaps we should get back to our fairy tales – it could be quite an awakening for some of us. Maybe the Brothers Grimm and our parents were on to something. The moral of the story essentially should have been: beware of the Narcissist!

Kameni Chetty, Durban

* The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.

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