Echoism. A new diagnosis for sufferers from child abuse

Essay, 2007

10 Pages, Grade: 14.0

Free online reading


Lorri Doyle

Axia College/University of Phoenix

Utilizing Information in College Writing

July 29, 2007

A new diagnosis for the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistics Manual-V (DSM-V) to be released in the year 2011, called Echoism could create a new light in helping with psychoanalytical methods and practices. The new diagnosis would be beneficial to all individuals who were raised by narcissistic parents. In families where child abuse and/or trauma were employed in raising the children Echoism runs rampant. Adult children from these families may develop a permanent Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which is called Echoism. This should be called Echotistic Personality Disorder (EPD) and labeled so in the DSM-V.

To look at the mythology of Narcissus and Echo, Echo withered away into a vine due to her unrequited love for Narcissus. She tried to get his attention to let him know how much she loved him to no avail. Narcissus became part of the scenery at the water where he fell in love with his own reflection. He turned into a narcissus ~ a daffodil. A narcissistic personality disorder is one in which the person is not able to see outside themselves let alone begin to love another in a healthy manner.

Abusers have historically shown they are incapable of comprehending healthy love. They work unconsciously toward maintaining the cycle of violence. Where does that leave the abused? They are caught up in the cycle of being unable to do anything to appease the abuser. Always trying, never succeeding in pleasing their object of affection. “The reactions of children who chronically witness family violence may include disruptions of normal developmental patterns that result in disturbed patterns of cognitive, emotional, and/or behavioral adjustment,” (Jaffe, Wolfe, Wilson, 1990). This trait is a BPD called Echoism.

The following table lists the nine criteria which are required by the generally accepted guidelines of the DSM-IV-TR for Narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorder. A person needs to meet only 5 of the 9 to be considered a Narcissistic Personality Disorder Personality type.

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Table II Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

There is no mention of Narcissus’s counter part, Echo, in the DSM-IV-TR manual. Without Echo there would be no Narcissus. The myth of Narcissus would have faded long ago had it not been for Echo’s role in the relationship. Narcissus was a vain God, lost to himself and in love with himself. He was unable to see outside himself to offer love to another being.

Echo is the opposite case. She was indeed badly injured. When Hera punished Echo, she placed upon her a narcissistic blockade. She was only allowed to echo. But no representation of her self could be uttered. She was then, in effect, totally deprived of self-directed libido. Her fate then was inevitable. She could not go beyond echoing the other’s narcissism in order to put herself forward as an object of love. She was doomed by Hera’s narcissistic blockade to cathect her libido into the black hole of the other’s narcissism, (Davis, D., 2005).

Echoism, what is it in relation to diagnosis and treatment in a family environment? We know that with the narcissistic family “The needs of the parent system took precedence over the needs of the children.” (Donaldson-Pressman, S. & Pressman, R., 1997). Does that then make their children voices of Echoism? The term narcissism begets a personality that denotes self-love as opposed to object-love (love of another person). So then, what does that mean to the opposing object? The other person may live with unrequited love throughout the relationship. According to Dean Davis “Echo’s scarcity is remarkable given the proposition that echoism could have emerged as an equally useful concept in psychoanalytic theory, especially since the meaningfulness of the concept of narcissism seems diminished without its counterpart echoism.”

Any person in a relationship with a narcissist may become an echo of their abusers’ personality. Bruises and broken bones heal; however, the echoes of abuse on a child’s personality linger into adulthood. As a child echoing the words of my parents caused my personality disorder to be created; a disorder called Echoism. The age of the child during their personality development may cause this disorder. The difference between Echo, the Mountain Nymph, and the human child is that Echo could only repeat the last word she heard. A human child tends to repeat the whole sentence, or various parts of the sentence. They tend to become what the narcissistic guardian’s verbal and emotional abuse teaches them. Typically abusive narcissists use the following words or phrases “You are ugly.” “You deserve this.” “You make me sick.” “Stay away from me.” “I wish you were never born.” “You are stupid.” A child raised in this environment may internalize the words of the narcissist in an effort to please the abuser and gain their love. To the child those words affect the rest of their personality development. They come to believe the abusers’ words and phrases as fact. “One has only to observe the behavior of profound autistic children, who do not seem to echo at all, to confirm the necessity of echoing in the normal maturation of the child,” (Davis, D., 2005).

During the past thirteen years doctors have diagnosed me with at least seven different psychiatric disorders. These include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bi-Polar Disorder (also know as Manic-Depression), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Borderline Personality Disorder (non-specific) (BPD), Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. All of my labels can be attributed to being an Echo to the Narcissistic parents that reared me. When reading about the different types of dysfunctional families mine fit into every category. Due to surviving this abuse and trauma it is my belief that my actual personality disorder is Echoism, not seven or more different diagnoses.

Each of my three parents met all nine of the criterion for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They lived, however, without treatment for their diseases. Living in the shadows of narcissism created a sense of worthlessness in me. This was due to the fact that although I tried hard to please the narcissistic personalities which raised me it made no difference. Their narcissistic personalities ruled our world. Nothing which was done, or said made any difference in trying to gain my parents love and affection. According the research done by the Echo website;

It is clear that there are a great number of things parents need to do right to ensure the separation/individuation process is successful and that there are a lot of things that parents can do wrong. Getting it right for their child is hard work, getting it wrong can be disastrous for all concerned and raising a child perfectly is impossible, (Echo, 2006).

Due to the abusive lifestyle in which we were raised every one of us moved out the house by the time each was eighteen. My parents were wrong. “Unless we can help these children break free from this cycle, they will falter, withdraw, act out, do poorly in school, victimize others, and, ultimately, continue the cycle of abuse when they become parents, (Wilson, R., 2007).

A person may show all the personality traits of Narcissus and Echo at the same time. “…a person with BPD may experience intense bouts of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last only hours, or at most a day,” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2007). Remember, Narcissism is a subtype of a Borderline Personality Disorder.

Any healthy ego will include elements both of narcissistic and echotistic trends. Narcissism, in a healthy personality, builds self-esteem and establishes boundaries regarding limits of self; similarly, echoism allows for the development of empathy and the growth of positive relationships. Furthermore, a narcissistic/echotistic relationship is not necessarily unhealthy if it is in a context where both parties can explore additional roles in their development. An example of a healthy relationship in this regard would be the classic model of “Holmes & Watson,” where Watson plays an echotistic role to Holmes’ essentially narcissistic character. However, it is important to stress that this is only one aspect of their personalities.

What we are concerned with is the pathological development of an echotistic personality. By definition, a personality disorder is only labeled such if it interferes with a persons’ normal life or growth. The occasional manifestation of these trends is a natural part of human relationships The book The Narcissistic Family Diagnosis and Treatment, (Donaldson-Pressman, S., Pressman, R. 1994) is listed in the top 20 best sellers in the Psychological Analytical field 13 years following its first publication. Today the book is still one of the only therapeutic reference manuals available for use in treating adults who grew up in emotionally abusive families. The book states their model could have been named after Echo instead of Narcissus. (1994) p. 44, para. 3. This being one of the first treatment options in a model setting for therapists to use with patients from Narcissistic families the term Echoism has yet to be used.

The below table is a possible model for the DSM-V.

1. has a low sense of self-importance (e.g., disbelieves achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as inferior even with documented achievements)
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of limited beliefs of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special persons or institutions
4. requires excessive validation
5. has no sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of unfavorable treatment or automatic non-compliance with his or her expectations
6. is interpersonally introverted; takes no advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. Is too empathetic; is willing to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others over self
8. is often envious of others
9. shows meek, unassuming behaviors or attitudes

Table II Diagnostic criteria for Echotistic Personality Disorder

Created by L. Doyle

When researching this paper it was apparent that there is not any opposition to the theory of adding Echoism to the DSM-V. In fact, the word Echoism is found only in a few materials from all the sources sought. The only opposition available to be found throughout the WWW, the Apollo Libraries vast resources and my own city library were to do with the validity of the DSM. This opposition believes the American Psychological Association creates the book as a model for pharmaceutical and insurance companies, not for the doctors and social workers which use it through out the country everyday. Having voluntarily undergone therapeutic treatment for over 25 years I have learned to break the mold of abuse, violence and narcissism. The diagnoses given me were from the DSM-III, and DSM-IV-TR.

“In a survey of 3,678 women, 51% of those who were physically abused in childhood had a psychiatric disorder, compared with 30% of those who were not abused,” (Splete, H., 2002). So, if over 51% of women which were physically abused have a psychiatric disorder we can not assume it was just depressive and psychotic disorders. We can speculate that many of these women were scarred by their family abuse in the form of developing personality disorders. The women who have been diagnosed with a personality disorder should be tested and possibly treated for Echoism. This will greatly increase the number of patients who could successfully recover from the reality of having lived with negative narcissist in their developmental years.

Following is a chart which shows the affects of adult women who were abused in childhood.

Survivors of Childhood Abuse; a study of 3,678 Women

Splete, H. (2002) p47 (1) “Child Abuse Affects Linger. (Clinical Capsules)” Clinical Psychiatry

News 30.1 Retrieved from InfoTracOneFile, Thompson Gale on June 14, 2007

We have learned about Narcissus and Echo, two mythological figures that have been analyzed and studied over the centuries. Narcissus was in love with himself. Echo was in love with Narcissus, yet it was a bittersweet love due to Narcissus being unable to see outside his own reflection. Although Narcissus was able to hear the voice and words Echo would tell him, she could only echo his self-love and he rebutted her. Children who are taught from an unhealthy model of narcissism form unhealthy personalities with little self-esteem.

The narcissistic parent puts what he feels is unacceptable in himself onto his child, but the child does not realize she is a repository, accepting instead whatever the parent feeds her as the truth. A child presumes good intentions since the alternative is too frightening to consider, (Golomb, E, 1992).

As adults those children often are diagnosed with personality disorders. If one comes from an upbringing with neglect and abuse they are taught to echo the offender’s personality. They are not taught or allowed to grow or love properly, only to serve the abuser. Most abusers suffer from narcissism therefore; the adult children of child abuse may suffer from a personality disorder which should be called Echoism. The acceptance of the diagnosis into the DSM V would be beneficial to patients, therapists, doctors, and those associated with Echotistic personalities.


Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder, (2007) American Psychiatric

Publishing, Inc. Retrieved June 12, 2007 from


Davis, D. (2005), Echo in the Darkness, the Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. 92, No. 1,

Guildford Publications, Inc. Retrieved from psycINFO on May 17, 2007

Donaldson-Pressman, S., Pressman, R. (1994) the NARCISSISTIC FAMILY Diagnosis and

Treatment Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco

Echo. (2006) What Type of Parenting May Lead to NPD, p2, para.12,

Retrieved on June 24, 2007 from

Golomb, E. (1992) Trapped in the Mirror. William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Jaffe, P., Wolfe, D. and Wilson, S. (1990) Children of Battered Women, Sage Publications,

Inc., Newbury Park, CA

National Institute of Mental Health (2006) Borderline Personality Disorder: Raising Questions,

Finding Answers NIH Publication No. 01-4928 Retrieved on June 20, 2007 from

Splete, H. (2002,) p 47(1) “Child Abuse Affects Linger. (Clinical Capsules.)” Clinical

Psychiatry News 30.1 Retrieved from InfoTracOneFile. Thomson Gale on June 14, 2007

Wilson, R. (2007, April) Recognizing Child Abuse, Teacher Librarian, Vol.34, Issue 4

Retrieved May 17, 2007 from EBSCOhost Database: Academic Search Premier

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Echoism. A new diagnosis for sufferers from child abuse
University of Phoenix  (Axia College)
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Lorri Doyle (Author), 2007, Echoism. A new diagnosis for sufferers from child abuse, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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