Are We Overusing The Term Narcissist?

 In Divorce Mediation, Divorce Planning


I’m not a fan of labels. Every person on this earth comes with their own unique set of traits and sorting them into neat little boxes just doesn’t work. It seems like I hear the term “narcissist” every day. Are you married to a narcissist? How to deal with a narcissist. The victims of narcissists. And so on. But do we really understand the true meaning of the word? And are we overusing the term to the detriment of real victims and ordinary people dealing with difficult people the wrong way?

There is a spectrum for narcissism and everybody has a certain amount. Being on the spectrum does not mean you are a narcissist. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an official mental health disorder that characterizes a group of people that fall so extremely high on the spectrum that they are considered ill. Just because you may have an inconsiderate, selfish partner does not mean they are a narcissist. When we overuse the term, we trivialize real victims of narcissistic abuse versus your everyday variety jerk AND we assume that narcissism is always negative.

By putting people with bad behavior into a labeled box, it can make you feel better. It can make the victim feel like they are in the right. The other person is the sick narcissist and they are the suffering victim. They are interpreting the actions of others only as it affects them, essentially making others seem more selfish than them. This attitude may prevent the victim from actually seeing their own bad behavior. That’s why it’s vital that we don’t label people without the proper diagnosis. I work with many reputable psychologists and social workers that can assist with this.

Cases do exist where there are real narcissists. It’s the overuse of the word that is hurting everybody. Whether you require divorce coaching or mediation, Divorce Harmony can help you figure out how to best deal with your partner moving forward.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Christopher

    Thank you for this. Once I read one article on narcissism on Medium, I saw this explosion In posts (yay algorithms) and started to really bug me. The label removes responsibility from every party — the victim is just a victim, the partner has a label and can’t change. Throwing up your hands and saying “I need to leave this narcissist” leaves the possibility of growth and change out of the picture. It doesn’t help when the authors of these posts say much the same. What kind of relationship isn’t there to support growth?

  • Dori Shwirtz

    Thanks Christopher, I appreciate you input.

  • Kevin T.

    Nice article, I keep hearing some women friends and acquaintances use that label about their ex., seemed excessive. Same as how people who are naturally emotionally sensitive, sometimes fragile, like to call themselves empaths, you don’t have to be overly sensitive to have plenty of awareness and empathy for other people and their feelings.

    • dori

      Thank you.

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