LeBron is called “narcissistic,” a word tied to a deadly Greek myth

LeBron James has inspired the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team he left for the Miami Heat, to write an open letter to the basketball MVP that uses some very juicy words. Thank you, Dan Gilbert, for giving us a reason to gaze into the freakish history of narcissistic. The story starts with anger, but ends with a flower.

For the record, here is what Dan Gilbert wrote:

“This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his ‘decision’ unlike anything ever ‘witnessed’ in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.”

That’s but a morsel of the snarky melodrama. But Gilbert may have bit off more melodrama than he realizes by invoking narcissism.¬†Starting with the common, modern definition, narcissism is “excessive love or admiration of oneself.”¬†Psychoanalysis makes things more, well, psycho: “Erotic pleasure derived from contemplation or admiration of one’s own body or self, especially as a fixation on or a regression to an infantile stage of development.”

There isn’t room to elaborate on the many psychological nuances of narcissism, though we will mention two concepts. The official psychological diagnosis is called narcissistic personality disorder, and one of the components of the disorder has a wonderful name: magical thinking, “a conviction that thinking is equivalent to doing, occurring in dreams, the thought patterns of children, and some types of mental disorders, esp. obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

From magic to myth, here is Mr. Narcissus himself. In Greek mythology, he was a young man who was unbearably handsome. He was oblivious to the amorous attention of mortals and nymphs alike. When he saw his own reflection for the first time in a stream, he was so transfixed that he couldn’t stop staring at himself, to the point that he slowly wasted away and died. Depending on the version of the story, his inability to move was either his own self-love or a divine punishment. According to Ovid, a nymph who loved him named Echo finally took pity on him and turned his body into the flower named for him, the Narcissus.

If the word makes you think of narcotic, then your brain is in fine form. Both Narcissus and narcotic contain the Greek root narke, “numbness,” which can also imply seduction.


  1. wolf tamer and iron miner -  March 12, 2014 - 3:21 am

    I knew this.

  2. de_zero -  July 16, 2010 - 2:43 am

    it was very interesting to read.
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  3. missbanina -  July 14, 2010 - 4:40 am

    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  4. GIANT EYE BALL | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  July 10, 2010 - 10:13 am

    [...] for some generals — Were the leaders confused, mislead or Narcissistic? — Or was it money back then selling lives in the DEN of the deal-makers stuffing pockets and filling and pounding the [...]

  5. me -  July 9, 2010 - 11:57 pm

    @ Ms Corday…’cuz that’s just cheap’……..THATS just cheap. However i do agree that the headline is just ‘silly’ ;)

  6. Charlotte Corday -  July 9, 2010 - 8:19 pm

    Narcissism isn’t tied to a Greek myth of “lust and death.” How silly. It’s tied to a Greek myth of conceit leading to failure.

    To call a famous-famous, SUPER famous living character “narcissistic” is like calling water wet. This professional athlete is narcissistic, ya think? WOW. What an observation.

    Internet articles ought’ta be teachin’ better. You’ve got young folks reading what you say. So try to say something more profound than salt is salty, and don’t mislead with lusty-looking headlines and far-fetched, purposely prurient comparisons, cuz that’s just cheap.

  7. flabanker -  July 9, 2010 - 8:03 pm

    Snarky? It is enough to keep up with you wordsmith’s, but using British slang is a bit too much!

  8. Lonny Dunn -  July 9, 2010 - 7:54 pm

    I think that all stars, to some degree or another in order to be stars have the light thrust upon them. Some attempt the “good ol boy, just like you and me approach” like Tom Brady, or Bret Favre. Other’s are more flamboyant, and seemingly seak the limelight. There does not seem to have been predisposition on Lebron’s Part to be so “over the top” as described in the definition (s) above.

    It would seem the journalists usage of the term narcissistic wasa hyperbole, and itself a bit promotional. When, if I may quote anyone ever reports …” in the history of sports…..enterntainment…” that puts anyone’s radar up that exxageration cannot compete with reality.

    Using only the medical definition and classical example of narcissism, the reader is left to fill in the yawning gap in between, especially in the modern era of hot shot ball players and drunk actresses. Lebron’s decision was obviously a staged event, but so what? Did not the world sit enthralled, entertained, given their money’s worth and curiosity satisfied?


    So the “Hot Word” is Lebron a Narcissist? He would appear to be the victim of he and his agents’ opportunism and slow news night. I think that in the present usage, the term narcissist could apply only as it does to the run of the mill celebrity which he certainly is, and, if in fact what we witnessed was the embryonic stage of full blown superstardom, then it is not narcissm.

    Only time will tell if he is therefore more than just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and took his best shot.

    I am retweeting this article at ProNetworkBuild

  9. yayuh -  July 9, 2010 - 5:33 pm

    Why is this on dictionary.com?! LOL

  10. sprode -  July 9, 2010 - 4:29 pm

    Lebron is a yellow-bellied coward first but also a raging narcissist.

    The NBA is a league that caters to narcissists in a country that caters to narcissists.

  11. egg -  July 9, 2010 - 2:34 pm

    cool info


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