Diagnosis De Jour: Narcissism

True pathological narcissism has always been rare and remains so: It affects an estimated 1 percent of the population, and that prevalence hasn’t changed demonstrably since clinicians started measuring it. – Psychology Today

Almost on a daily basis, an article or story comes across my stream proclaiming the dangers of narcissism or some other pathology. And they are right: narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths can be dangerous.

However, the downside is entirely too many imagine they are experts on other peoples’ pathologies because they read a Twitter article. I imagine this is similar to the way people see a conspiracy in every contrail or NASA moon landing shot. Conspiracy thinking is cover for our inability to understand complex issues. We all think we know more than we do and if we don’t understand something it must be false, a con, or dangerous. In the end, we borrow imagined trouble to justify real behaviors and attitudes.

That is an observation and not about C.

My fellow writer and Twitter friend, Dolly Allen, and I have been chatting about how quick we are to label people based on our own pain. Recently she wrote a first-person account of how she turned to ghost stories to explain her husband’s behavior and infidelity. After all, when we hurt it must be something nefarious and sinister. We confuse the way of the thing with the thing; we confuse the way of people with the people. Click here or below to read her story.

From almost the beginning well-meaning but ignorant people have been inserting their own personal pain into my situation based on their own opinions, pain, biases, and ignorance. It has, as someone watching both sides of the conversation recently said to me, “fed your and C’s anxieties and made perspective, conversation, and compassion nearly impossible for two people that clearly love and miss one another.”

One of the benefits of my experience is it has made me less judgy of other people and their choices. I’m learning the value of not trying to diagnose mental illness based on articles I’ve read on Twitter and Facebook.

Over the last few months, laypeople have accused of gaslighting, grooming, triangulating, and carrying a dangerous pathology. I’ve been told I’m incapable of honestly dealing with my shit. That I am, to borrow from AA, constitutionally incapable of being honest with myself.  They accuse me of turning this into a game for my ego.

It’s all bunk.

My doctor told me repeatedly, people should “leave the diagnosis of complicated emotional and behavioral issues to the professionals.” Listening to the insight of friends making a diagnosis of complex relationship issues is like asking the baker to fix your wrecked car.

Stop labeling people with a pathology if you aren’t a professional. Counselors shouldn’t be labeling people with a pathology if they have never met them. Stop telling your own ghost stories to people already scared and hurting.

In reality, this shit is complex and the inability for a layperson to make sense of it doesn’t make it a conspiracy. It hurts good and well-meaning people and inserts your pain into situations and relationships that are none of your business.

Read Dolly’s article below:

February of 2016 began the final phase our complete marriage breakdown. By this point, I had begun reading about narcissists and gas lighting. I convinced myself that my husband was a narcissist and that I should consider divorcing him before he totally brainwashed me into thinking I was a complete and utter failure. Worthless. Unloveable. […]

via He’s a Narcissist… — The Queen Is In

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