I’ve said before that we both over estimate and under estimate narcissism.
Yes, it is good when we define and recognize narcissistic personality disorder. Not enough people are educated about it, and not enough people see narcissists for what they are. We need more ability to recognize these disordered predators.
On the other hand, many people throw out the word “narcissist” just because they disagree with someone or don’t like them. When we misuse the word like that, it loses its potency and gets diluted. If we keep over using the word narcissist to describe non-narcs, people won’t take us seriously when we label a REAL narcissist.
I see people calling each other and public figures narcissists ALL the time online. Many times, it’s simply over a difference of opinion. One side isn’t willing to consider the other side, so they just name call. As a third party, I can see the conversation and see the validity of either side. Sometimes, if you give a person an honest answer and they don’t like it, they react by getting mad. Having a different opinion or giving someone an unpleasant answer to a question is not narcissism. Being brash, being a jerk, having poor social skills, lacking tact, not realizing the effect your words have on others is not narcissism. Autism and Aspergers are not narcissism.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not just about being mean or loud. It is a disorder that affects a person’s thought processes and behavior so badly it affects their entire lives and their ability to maintain relationships. The reasons for bad behavior define narcissists more than the bad behavior itself. Anyone can do something jerky–even more than once, but a narcissist has a pattern of purposely being a jerk due to disordered perceptions and beliefs. A narcissist rationalizes it and truly believes it is okay, and they will not feel remorse.
I see this misuse of “narcissist” the worst in online political discussions. People on opposite sides of the political spectrum have different opinions on how to fix situations, but that doesn’t mean that either side is without empathy or that one is evil and the other is good. One side may believe in the power of public assistance while the other believes that private aid should dominate. This does not mean that one side is refusing to help and is narcissistic. It means that they see two different solutions. It frustrates me that, instead of considering what they other side is thinking and how it could be valid, so many people immediately turn to accusations. In fact, I could make a case that considering one’s opinions the only ones that matter to be a bit…narcissistic! To claim that only one side has all the right answers and the other side is always wrong is not accurate, but it does happen. Especially online, people lose the ability to discuss rationally. That’s when the accusations of narcissism come out. Would you dare talk to people like this in person? I’ll bet not!
A real narcissist is fortunately, still just a small portion of the population. Unfortunately, they do the most damage. It is essential to be able to spot the real thing and avoid it. However, it’s important not to start over-using the label just because we cannot get along with someone. Even for normal people, not everyone can be friends. That doesn’t mean the other person is a narcissist. It just means that they aren’t suited for you. Let’s be more careful about our common enemy–the predator with Narcissistic Personality Disorder!