narcissist ex

People keep telling me to “read up on narcissists” because it seems that everyone is convinced that their ex is one. Being a narcissist is one thing, but the label that they are slapping onto every one presenting as even a semi-asshole is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. That is one hell of a label.

Considering that personality disorders affect less than ten percent of adults it’s hard to believe that so many people that we all know would have the same fringe mental disorder. Because let’s be clear, it’s a mental disorder. You are saying that that person has a mental illness if you say they have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

But here’s the thing: Most of those people were just selfish assholes. People are selfish and people are assholes all the time. People are dysfunctional and cause damage. But it doesn’t automatically mean that they have a mental illness. Not every person who is narcissistic has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

You know that old saying that always came up when you were learning about Venn Diagrams, “All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles?”
It applies here.
Not everyone with a mental illness is an asshole and not every asshole has a mental illness. It’s that simple. Here, I made a Venn Diagram to show you:

I hear a lot because I don’t “look” like I have a mental illness. What I hear I hate. I am part of a small group and I’m tempted to walk out when anyone blames the collapse of a relationship on someone being a narcissist (with NPD) or having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s not always the case.
I know it is hard to be in those relationships, but if both people are working hard then it isn’t impossible.

What people with mental illnesses are so often told is that they are unlovable. They are the reason that relationships fall apart. They are always the problem.
The world makes our mental illnesses a scapegoat so that they can be the victims.

Let’s be honest about what all this diagnosing people with NPD is about. It’s about being able to be blameless and say that you survived some atrocious thing. Or it’s to make sense of why someone would do the horrible things that they did. Listen, people suck. I’ve survived enough evil to know that their excuse isn’t always mental illness.
It can feel nice to put it all into a neat little box called, “mental illness” to make it all make sense, but that doesn’t help anyone.

How cavalier people are to diagnose one another is disgusting. I have a diagnosed mental illness (a few actually) and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone or try to thrust it on someone because I thought they fit a pop psychology definition of something. But what’s even more dangerous about these conversations about tons of people walking around with a personality disorder is that the common excuse is,
“They’ll never get diagnosed because they don’t know anything is wrong with them.”
It creates a false sense of correctness because somehow them not going to a doctor is just more proof.

For those of us with mental illnesses, we’re tired of always being portrayed as the villain. We aren’t always the one to blame. Sometimes we are, but it doesn’t have to be because of our mental illness either. Anyone can be an asshole, but not every asshole has a mental disorder.

We’ve all been in bad relationships. But take a good hard look at the other person and yourself before you run off to narcissist-survivor town. You’re undermining the experiences of people who have actually lived through the torture that that specific kind of disorder can lead to.
Life isn’t just black and white or sick and well. It’s dangerous to spread a lie that someone has a disorder that they don’t or to treat people that way, especially just because you hate them.

When bad things happen people want to look to an easy target to blame. Stop letting mental illness be that target. You are creating more stigma around mental illness.

If you aren’t licensed to diagnose mental disorders, then don’t.

Remember: Not all assholes have a mental illness and not all people with mental illnesses are assholes.

narcissist, stigma