Are you an introvert who hates attention? When people ask you about your preferences, are you often at a loss? Do you avoid “burdening” others with your problems at all costs? You might be an echoist.

Echoism is not the same as introversion, but many sensitive introverts, especially those who had harsh or narcissistic parents, will identify with the key traits.

Here are 7 signs that you’re an echoist.

1. You hate attention

While most introverts shun attention as a form of self-protection from energy drain or embarrassment, echoists have different motives. As an echoist, you don’t feel safe acknowledging your preferences and needs, so you’d rather keep the focus on others.

2. You are painfully selfless

If you are an echoist, you take selflessness to the extreme. The very idea of burdening someone else with your problems fills you with shame and guilt.

3. You hate compliments

As an echoist, not only do you feel uncomfortable with compliments, you swat them away like annoying house flies. You deflect praise by giving someone else the credit, or putting yourself down: “Me, no, I’m not smart, the test was just easy.”

4. You blame yourself for everything

You tend to blame yourself when others are hurt. You are ultra sensitive to the needs of others. Meanwhile, you barely even acknowledge your own needs and wants.

5. You hate special treatment

While others go through life thinking that they are special, you feel exactly the opposite. As Dr. Craig Malkin, author of Rethinking Narcissism puts it:

“It’s as if the one stance echoists take, often vehemently, is ‘Don’t you dare treat me like I’m special.’”

6. You’re the opposite of a narcissist

According to Malkin, there’s a narcissism spectrum with echoists on the far left and narcissists on the far right. If you’re curious where you fall on the spectrum, you can take Malkin’s Narcissism Test.

7. You had a narcissistic or unstable parent

Echoism is often a survival strategy learned at a young age. Many echoists grew up with narcissistic parents. Having a parent with a mental illness or addictions can also lead to echoism.  

Perhaps, there was a role reversal in your family, and you had to take care of a sick or depressed parent. From a young age you learned that it’s not safe to rely on others to have your needs met.

The pitfalls of echoism

Although echoism might sound like an altruistic trait, it can have painful consequences. Echoists often struggle with anxiety and depression. For empathic echoists who feel things deeply, severe burnout is a constant threat.

Having low self-regard can also stunt your success and relationships, because you feel you don’t deserve what you truly desire.

You settle for exhausting relationships with narcissists. Or you constantly find yourself in one-sided relationships with partners, friends, and colleagues.

Meanwhile, the people with annoyingly high levels of self-esteem breeze through life, plucking opportunities from the sky, like grapes from an endless vine.

How to deal with echoism

The first step to reach out and receive what you need is to shift out of shame and self-blame and start exploring your true feelings.

Malkin recommends replacing the question “What have I done wrong” with, “Am I feeling disappointed?”or “Am I afraid to say something is wrong.”

Over to you

Do you think you’re an echoist? Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!


Michaela Chung