Echo Personality Disorder

The term Echo Personality Disorder was coined by British Psychosynthesis practitioner Patrick Hurst, as a replacement term for \'Inverted Narcissism\' and \'Covert Narcissism\' which later terms place unwarranted emphasis on narcissistic qualities of the personality, which in many of these individuals may not be a feature at all.

EPD is a highly differentiated form of Dependent Personality Disorder, marked by behaviours of compliance and a need to \'mirror\' significant others -parents, spouse, friends, employer. Individuals with EPD may be attracted to relationships with individuals showing marked narcissistic traits -people who need to be mirrored or praised- though this in no way forms a "standard" or "universal pattern" as is often claimed by theorists. EPD individuals may enter into relationships with a great variety of people, though at core there is a tendency to choose situations in which unrequited love will be the outcome.

These traits -choosing significant relationships where love can never be satisfactorily consumated, and the tendency to mirror significant others- were motivating features for choosing the term Echo Personality Disorder. In Greek mythology Echo was the lover of Narcissus. In this myth Echo, a forest nymph, falls in love with the egocentric youth Narcissus, and when he shows clear signs of rejecting her she persists in her attatchement, and will not be moved from her aim. She finally satisfies herself with the masochistic task of echoing back to him all that he says. This too is a central feature of EPD behaviour in relationships, where the individual will mirror, echo, and compliment another at the expense of their own self-worth and dignity. This echoing behaviour, though, does not exhaust the mythological potential of Echo, even if commentators on the myth narrow their descriptions to this single episode with Narcissus. Echo also has relations with Zeus, Hera, Pan, and Gaia, which have a different coloration to those she has with Narcissus, and has many friends in the form of other forest nymphs -"sisters" as we would call them today; attesting to the complexity we find within the Echo personality constellation.

Self descriptions of EPD individuals often relate a lack of self worth, and an accompanying fear of rejection, abandonment, and loss, as a result of feeling "unacceptable" to others. These agonizing fears are a driving force behind the above-mentioned interpersonal coping style (mirroring and reflecting others). These individuals protect themselves from rejection/abandonment by acting so agreeable to others, via their mirroring capacity, that chances of re-experiencing abandonment agony is brought to a safe minimum. Others generally enjoy being around the benevolent atmosphere cultivated by an EPD individual. Unfortunately this interpersonal style of relating amounts to a false existence with little or even no true-self expression, leading to poor psychological health, and lack of identity.

One characteristic predisposing background of EPD involves individuals being parented by caretakers who are themselves self-absorbed, narcissistic, or overly punitive. In this kind of environment the child learns that asserting one\'s \'true self\' will be met with a form of (often serial) rejection, to which the child responds by substituting \'compliant\' behaviour in place of true selfhood. Such compliant behaviour can then be witnessed as a stable feature throughout the child\'s growing-up years, with other school children, and within the family.

Depression, smoking, alchoholism, and addictive behaviours all occur with very high frequency in this personalty type.

On a more positive note, EPD individuals are excellent contributors to society and family life; are often perceptive of the needs of others; and enjoy contributing in a helpful fashion. The highly respected religions of Christianity and Buddhism are based on such principles of altruism and charity, and this is a lifestyle at which the EPD individual can be said to be expert. Good traits such as these cannot be written off with a catch-cry of \'pathology\', and if the EPD individual can regain a healthy sense-of-self whilst maintaining these good traits, they have the potential to become paragons of social behaviour.

-Essay based on Patrick Hurst\'s definition of EPD.


Echo: a quote from \'Narcissism and Character Transformation\'

"It has been said that the Echo episode was added by Ovid to a prior version of the myth; if this is so it only more attests to Ovid\'s genius, for Echo admirably represents the feminine counterpart of Narcissus. And she