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Demosthenes's avatar

Are people over-using the term "narcissist" (and "gaslighting" for that matter)?

Asked by Demosthenes (12882points) 1 month ago

I’m seeing the accusation of “narcissism” all over the internet. Everyone’s ex boyfriend is a narcissist. Everyone’s former friend is a narcissist. Everyone’s troublesome adult child or distant parent is a narcissist. Narcissistic personality disorder is certainly a real mental issue and I am not denying its reality. But I do think accusations of narcissism are being thrown around too freely to label anyone someone has a problem with, anyone who has called out their BS or rejected them or disagreed with them. It’s also telling that no one seems to ever admit to being a narcissist, but if there are this many out there, surely some of the people making the accusation are a pot calling the kettle black.

I have a similar problem with “gaslighting”. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which you cause someone to doubt their sanity. But I am seeing this term all over the internet, particularly when someone is an argument or debate that they’re losing. Gaslighting is not a term to describe someone who makes you question your beliefs or posts an argument you have trouble responding to.

Let’s not cheapen these terms that describe real problems.

(Sorry this is kind of a rant/PSA. But feel free to comment with any observations you have).

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5 Answers

rebbel's avatar

It’s a fad, I feel.
This year’s stopgap.
In a year ‘we’ will be using other ones, and gaslighting and narcissism will have their real meaning and value back.

JLoon's avatar

Maybe… But whatever terms you use, there’s too much of it going around lately.

Besides, I’m NOT a narcissist – Just vain. And I’m NOT CRAZY EITHER!! Half my doctors say I’m nearly normal.

cookieman's avatar

Reminds of the different uses of the words ‘depressed’ or ‘depression’.

We can all feel down or depressed for a period of time, but only certain people have been diagnosed with clinical depression (which is a real and scary condition).

I’ve known many people who have displayed selfish or narcissistic behavior, but I’ve only known one person who was diagnosed by a doctor with narcissistic personality disorder (my mother).

These official terms make their way into common vocabulary, people get a very cursory understanding of them, and then use them to label behavior and people that resembles what they think they understand.

Zaku's avatar

Probably, but narcissism and gaslighting are quite common, and there’s a range of severity.

I think they’re overused but also that it’s a step in the right direction for them to be getting public attention, especially when our last elected POTUS was an extreme example of both, and too much of the country didn’t get it and even continues to find something favorable to cling to about him.

Demosthenes's avatar

^It was actually a political discussion that inspired me to ask this. Someone on another forum was saying that “woke liberals” exhibit all the traits of narcissism, but when someone pointed out that Trump is a perfect example of all those traits, he wouldn’t admit it. Which proved that he was not using the term accurately, but only as a substitute for “person I don’t like”.

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