Allegory of the Cave

This has come into my consciousness no fewer than six times over the past few weeks. Too often to ignore as coincidence, so it was time to bring full presence to this amazing story.

When I was an undergrad, I majored in English Lit and minored in Philosophy. That was the first time I read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, and the imagery in that story has stayed with me ever since.

Normally, the Allegory of the Cave brings to mind the unexamined life, those who hide from their fears and live in deep denial. But the following is also quite accurate, in relation to being trapped in a trauma bond and the struggle to first see and then break that bond.

From How to Leave a Narcissist:

Plato and the Cave

From Allegory of the Cave:

“Plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of the cave entrance, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.”

The victims of narcissists are like people in Plato’s cave: We do not believe it when somebody tells us there is light and sunshine and beautiful fields outside the cave, if we only take one step towards the right direction. We insist on staying in the darkness of the cave, because that world, regardless of its horrors, has become familiar to us. That is the world we know and even though we are not completely happy living in it, we are afraid to leave. We are afraid that we may not find anything better, that we might be left completely alone. But anything is better than to sit in a dark, cold, wet cave (grave) and just wait for the death. Outside the cave we at list have a chance of survival, we even have a chance to achieve Happiness. Whatever will happen outside the cave, it will be better than to live and die in darkness.

Having said that, let me say that I do understand how difficult it is to leave a narcissistic husband or wife. The mental hooks are buried so deep. I know this very well, because I have been in that situation with my narcissistic spouse. I know how it feels like when your brain is screaming at you “run, get out of here as fast as you can!”, but your heart makes you stay. If you are now in that situation, keep reading articles on this website and slowly you will start to realize what is best for YOU. The point will come when you will be strong enough to break free and leave your narcissistic spouse. The purpose of this website is to help you in that process.

Search your feelings and you will realize that your sadness, depression and anxiety are due to the fact that you believe your life will be somehow “empty” and “gray” without your narcissistic wife or husband. You have built yourself an identity as a spouse of your narcissistic partner and now you should rearrange your view of yourself and your life. This process is very painful. But trust me, you will get through it.

As for me, I still see his shadows on the wall from time to time, but my time in the light grows longer with each passing day.


~ by omgrey on April 25, 2012.

5 Responses to “Allegory of the Cave”

  1. I recall this from one of my long-ago college philosophy classes.Wasnt there levels to getting out of the cave to the surface? Or am I recalling another allegory? I have spent almost 9 years in that cold basement, complete with centipedes on the cement wall by the bed. It is like the outer limits episode where people claim they are being forced to stay in an old house, while they’ve been able to leave the whole time. Gave me an idea for a film scene “I’ve seen what’s out there!” as reason for becoming a recluse.

  2. For Once I am not caught up with something you are talking about. I have dealt with Narcissists before, sometime even followed their merry tune, but in the end I see them fro what they are and leave.

    Writing that right now makes me feel better. I am not so screwed up that I am irredeemable, I am learning to keep the users away. And you are helping. HUGS.

    • No one is irredeemable. Not even narcissists, if they can admit they have issues & need to work on them…and then actually commit to doing just that.

  3. […] Allegory of the Cave […]

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