Let’s Stop Calling People Narcissists


Narcissist. I’ve been hearing this word thrown around a lot lately, whether it’s talking about people who take selfies, the celebrity thieves the movie The Bling Ring is based on, or my entire generation.

Here are reasons why you should reconsider using that word:

1. By calling someone else a narcissist, you are implying that you yourself are not a narcissist

Do you really want to go there? Shall we examine your life? Do you ever read your own Twitter feed? Look at yourself in a window reflection? Respond negatively to criticism about yourself? We could all be called narcissists, because we are all principally in charge of our own selves, and therefore very interested in examining and documenting those selves.

2. Extreme “narcissism” is usually a symptom of deeper problems people are going through

The people with the biggest egos tend to be the people with the most fragile senses of self. For example, many journalists covering the kids behind The Bling Ring are quick to assume that they were principally motivated by the narcissism of youth and an attraction to fame. Maybe that’s partially true, but it doesn’t really seem like an actual examination of the motivations behind people’s behaviors. People who blindly pursue superficial fantasies are usually struggling with lives that are out of their control. For example, Alexis Neiers, one of the bling ring thieves who starred in her own reality show Pretty Wild, revealed that during the peak of her fame she was addicted to heroin, oxycontin and cocaine, and that she has spent her life trying to numb herself after years of childhood abuse. Narcissistic or just struggling to survive?

3. Calling someone a narcissist is a superficial accusation

That’s what’s so ironic about it to me. Truly trying to understand people tends to be a humbling experience. To me, when people are quick to smugly write someone–or a group of people–off as “narcissists,” it says more about their inability to look outside themselves than anything else.

4. Preoccupation with narcissism often seems like projection

If you’re comfortable with your relationship to yourself, you’re not going to be overanalyzing everyone else’s.

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This post originally appeared on The Tangential.