According to Dr. Malkin, when he scribbled the term “echoism” on a piece of paper, he realized that the myth of Echo and Narcissus focuses on both ends on the narcissism spectrum – “the dangers of an addiction to feeling special and the inability to enjoy feeling special at all. Everyone forgets about Echo in the myth, and that made the term seem all the more apt.” However, it should be noted that echoists are not necessarily completely docile and submissive creatures. People with echoism may feel driven to avoid being a burden on others, but they can react negatively and angrily when forced to be in the spotlight. “Echoists hate attention,” explains author and psychologist Kerry McAvoy, PhD. When they are compelled to become the center of attention, like a surprise birthday party, they can get bitter and furious. Hence, they are also prone to uncontrollable mood swings.
Distress with accepting praise, discomfort with expressing self and excessive people-pleasing behavior can cause several other mental and emotional health issues in the long run. However, unlike narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), echoism or echo personality disorder (EPD) is not a clinical diagnosis. It is not a mental health condition that can be treated. Currently, psychologists and psychotherapists are trying to better understand this personality trait.
Echoism And Relationships
People with echoistic traits tend to feel things deeply. Growing up around narcissistic and abusive parents they learn to suppress their emotions and silence their voices to avoid any negative reactions. Hence, as adults they believe taking up as little space as required in relationships can make life easier and better for them. Driven by the fear of being seen as a narcissist, they become accommodating in romantic relationships. Unfortunately, as they are filled with self-doubt, anxiety, self-criticism, lack of self-expression and echoistic thoughts, they can quickly make even a healthy relationship toxic. Relationships can be even worse when they become prey to narcissists.
They can cater unrelentingly to emotionally-needy, and sometimes emotionally unavailable, parents, partners and friends. In adulthood, women with such tendencies become trapped in one-sided romantic relationships and friendships. They can constantly give attention and praise to their partners but may become hostile when similar behaviors are reciprocated by their partners. As a result they mostly develop unhealthy attachment patterns and styles.
Echo personality disorder (EPD) mainly stems from abuse, unhealthy attachment patterns and insecurity during childhood. This is why it is crucial that echoists learn how to boost their self-esteem if they wish to build healthier relationships and life. You need to start accepting yourself, show love and compassion to yourself first and allow yourself to receive love, admiration and appreciation from others. You also need to learn how to express yourself and take a stand on what you think is important. Having a healthy mindset and personality requires that you possess both narcissistic and echoistic qualities to some degree. You need to remind yourself that you deserve to be happy and you are worthy.
Believing that you’re overly sensitive or blaming yourself every time anything goes wrong in a relationship will not help you cope with this particular personality trait. What you need to do is learn how to share difficult emotions with trusted loved ones. Dr. Malkin explains “Being able to have a vulnerable way to share those feelings instead of blaming yourself – that’s what helps people overcome echoism.” As it is a trait and not a diagnosis, you can take some steps to get over echoism and learn how to be a mix of both a healthy narcissist and echoist. While healthy narcissism can teach you to love yourself, healthy echoistic traits can enable you to be empathic and sensitive towards others. Here are a few things you can do to heal:
1. Identify echoism
The first step towards healing yourself begins with awareness. Learn to recognize echoistic behaviors and patterns that you may exhibit and take note of it. Identify the triggers and understand why you may behave the way you do. Once you become aware of such patterns you will be able to address it.