Nowadays the term narcissist is being used way too often, mostly to criticize others who are in fact far from fitting the true definition of the word.
The truth is, we all have some narcissistic characteristics in us, but that does not automatically make us actual narcissists.
Not all toxic people you meet are narcissists. It might seem like they are, but we mustn’t rush to conclusions. True, toxic individuals can be great manipulators and they are often abusive in nature, but actual narcissists are, in reality, way too extreme. And it is not our intention to downplay any hardships people might be going through at the hands of a toxic person, but it is important to know the difference between such a person and a true narcissist.
Calling the one who abuses you a narcissist can feel freeing in many ways, but it must be done accurately. The people on social media who bombard your feed with selfies are incredibly annoying but they are not narcissists in medical terms. True narcissists are actually fairly easy to notice if you know what to look for and to be honest when you see it for yourself, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about here.
In a piece called ‘Stop Calling Every Toxic Person a Narcissist’, writer Nicole Hankey clarified:
“I’ve seen so many posts on here and elsewhere (looking at you, TikTok) discussing toxic relationships with a so-called narcissist. The advice is usually well meaning and helpful, I’m sure, if you do find yourself dating a narcissist. But usually, the advice is composed of general tips you could apply to most any relationship that had similar red flags and toxic tendencies. So while I’m not knocking the advice itself, or the individual experiences of the authors, I feel compelled to clarify what narcissism is (and what it’s not).
First of all, all behavior is on a spectrum between what is considered “normal” and “abnormal”.
Everyone at some point in their life will tell a lie. However, most people do not habitually tell lies. Everyone will manipulate someone to get a desired outcome at least once, but most of us don’t make a habit out of it. Everyone will be over-dramatic and exaggerate, but most of us know where to draw the line. We all end up acting out for attention, or making an impulsive decision, but usually not at the expense of our safety or that of others. As isolated instances, these aren’t great behaviors, but they are normal — doing them every once in a while is just part of being human. The issue is when they become patterns of behavior. When certain behaviors become repeated patterns, and when they begin to interfere with someone’s ability to function in their day to day lives and interpersonal relationships, then they qualify as abnormal behaviors. Then the pattern can be accompanied by a diagnosis and can be treated by therapy or medicine.
The point is that sometimes people are just shitty. Sometimes people are self-centered, lack empathy, and manipulate others. Just because someone isn’t a nice person, doesn’t mean they have a disorder. Narcissism isn’t a synonym for a jerk, narcissism is a personality disorder.”
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