Mirroring, idealizing, and twinship needs

Before describing the guidelines that will help you strike a healthy balance between your needs and those of your depressed loved, one, you need to be familiar with three particularly salient narcissistic needs that we all have – mirroring, idealizing, and twinship needs – so you can identify them more easily in yourself and be less likely to mistake them for “selfishness”…

… In order to develop and maintain a healthy sense of self, we need to feel mirrored, or empathized with. The intensity of mirroring needs varies for different people at different stages of life, and it must be age appropriate to have the desired effect.

… Empathy requires that you understand another’s experience from that person’s unique perspective and communicate that understanding to him. This is not the same as feeling what you would feel if you were in their place. Rather, mirroring requires being finely tuned to another’s experience and being able to communicate the empathy you feel in a manner that is heard.

… Everybody has had the experience of idealizing another person. Early in life, we idealized our parents.

… In fact, this is probably the most recognizable aspect of falling in love. We say that love is blind to describe the way in which someone has fallen in love views the object of their love. No blemish or flaw is noticed when we idealize someone else.

The twinship need. We all have the need to feel a twinship with others – a sense of sameness, or of not feeling alienated, that develops from relationships in which we feel this connection with others. If you think back on your own life, you will probably be able to think of someone whom you experienced, or experience today, as very much like yourself. These kinds of relationships give us the experience of belonging, or of being part of the larger community of people. They help us to identify who we are in relation to other people and to guard against feelings of alienation.

  • pg. 138, When Someone You Love Is Depressed – Laura Rosen & Xavier Amador, ISBN 978-0-684-83407-8

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