The Other Opposite Of Narcissism Is Echoism: What You Need To Know

You know about empaths, but what about echoists?

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From an early age, I knew I didn’t want to grow up and be like my mother. She was self-centered, cold, and mostly disinterested in what anybody had to say, including me.

She’s a narcissist and has many other terrible qualities and personality traits besides narcissism. Still, she also has some good ones: a strong sense of self, an independent nature, and the ability to speak her mind without caring what other people think.


However, I refused to be like her in any way, which was just as unhealthy as if I had copied her every move and mood. I tend to keep my anger to myself, I people-please, and I take the blame for every mistake or relationship misstep on myself.

When you grow up with a narcissistic parent or parents, you tend to get traumatized repeatedly. It’s the reason why many survivors of narcissistic abuse suffer from PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You’re always ready to protect yourself yet at the same time convinced you’ll fail.

RELATED: 8 Long-Lasting Effects Of Having Narcissistic Parents

Narcissist abuse survivors rarely become narcissists themselves but tend to be the exact opposite of narcissists as empaths or echoists. We know what empaths are — people who are acutely tuned in to the emotions of those around them, but the label of echoist is less widely known.


Echoists lack a voice and are terrified of confrontation or disapproval.

While empaths are different from narcissists in their ability to see and feel things from other people’s perspectives, echoists contrast with narcissists in the way they shun the spotlight and stifle their own needs.

At the core of every echoist who grew up with a narcissistic parent is the desire not to be like them. Instead of going for a more balanced outlook or behavior, they act oppositely as a narcissist would.

No matter how much an echoist detests narcissistic personality traits, they still feel an urge for a narcissistic presence in their life.

Author and psychotherapist Donna Christina Savery writes in her book, Echoism: The Silenced Response, about the connection between echoists and narcissists.


RELATED: 12 Signs You Have An Emotionally Abusive Mother

“Almost invariably I have found a narcissistic parent or partner at the center of their [echoists] lives, and often there is a pattern of repeatedly seeking a dominant narcissist for a partner.”

Here are some ways echoists differ from narcissists.

1. Narcissists always want to be the center of attention, whereas echoists hate standing out. They’ll choose the shadows to the spotlight almost every time.
2. Relationships are an echoist’s number one priority, while a narcissist will put their own needs and wants first.
3. Echoists have trouble speaking out in a group setting. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Zoom call or a round-table discussion; echoists stay quiet
4. When it comes to relationships with narcissists, echoists rarely stop at one. It’s almost as if the echoist specializes in toxic and unhealthy relationships.
5. Echoists would rather cut off their own hand than cause someone else pain and suffering.
6. Echoists tend to have a mean-spirited inner voice who loves to criticize and bully them.
7. Narcissists have trouble creating boundaries, and echoists have a difficult time putting boundaries in place.
8. Echoists are approval-seekers; narcissists want you to confirm that they made the right decision or acted in the best way possible.
9. It’s hard for echoists to get a compliment as they don’t know how to process them.
10. Narcissists are sensitive about themselves, and echoists are hypersensitive about everyone but themselves.
11. Echoists don’t ask for help; they’ve been trained not to expect it or feel worthy of it.
14. Echoists feel suspicious of anything that makes them happy or feels good. They’re always waiting for the dreaded shoe to drop on their head.
15. Narcissists do whatever they want, but echoists feel as if they always must be careful not to upset someone, or they might get attacked.
16. Echoists weren’t allowed to shine as children and still tend to keep their talents, opinions, ideas, and gifts hidden.

There are no easy answers on how an echoist can break free from the restrictions they put on themselves. Perhaps the first thing to do is recognize the prison they’ve put their personalities into and how their wants and desires are important.


When one advocates for themselves, it isn’t self-centered but an act of self-preservation. I can stand up for myself, which doesn’t make me the carbon copy of my mother.

RELATED: 9 Signs Of Narcissistic Abuse, Explained By A Therapist

Christine Schoenwald is a love and entertainment writer. She has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Bustle, Business Insider, and more. Follow her on Twitter.