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Common Misconceptions of Narcissism

Updated on July 15, 2018
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Caitlyn looks to explore more of the world around her and to try new things to share with her readers.

An Important Note

Narcissism, at it's core, is a defense mechanism everyone has, to some degree. This article is about people who have too much narcissism, which makes it hard for them to function in society with other people. There are quite a few misconceptions when it comes to these types of people. This article will address five big ones.


This article is not meant to be used to diagnose people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or any other cluster B personality disorders. It is only meant to inform it's readers. Only a certified psychologist can diagnose anyone with a personality disorder.

5. Narcissistic People Love Themselves... A LOT

Thanks to the media, people tend to see narcissistic people as the girl who takes a ton of selfies, or as the person who can't stop talking about how amazing they are. People tend to believe narcissistic people love themselves so much, they can't see beyond their own ego. The issue at hand, however, is not that they love themselves too much, but that they hate everything about themselves. To a narcissistic person, there is no one worse in the world than themselves. There is no one more disgusting and worthless.


Obviously, that mindset is incredibly detrimental, so the brain works to protect the ego by giving positive affirmations to the person. When they think "I'm just worthless", the brain comes back with, "You are worth everything.". This causes the duality people often find when dealing with one of these people on a deeper level. One second they are the king of the world, and the next they are unable to do anything and there's no reason anyone should stay around them. In fear of rejection, they often self-sabotage and push away whoever is close to them.


Some narcissists are very arrogant and egotistical, but this is only for show. They all suffer from these harmful thoughts, but how they react on the outside to them differs from person to person. Some become a constant showboat who resents any negative attention towards them, while others are constantly talking down to themselves and react aggressively when anyone critiques them.


Beware of anyone who is constantly going on about how terrible they are and how no one loves them. This is a flag for this disorder.

4. Narcissistic People Are Overtly Abusive

It is common belief that narcissistic people are very obviously abusive. A lot of villains in movies or TV shows are shown this way, but not all abuse is vocal or physical. Abuse is someone's way of controlling a person or situation, which means it can come in many forms.


Physical abuse is the most common one people think of when it comes to looking for signs of abuse in a relationship. Physical abuse can range from putting their hands on someone without permission, to punching them in the eye for no reason. Many people don't realize they are being physically abuse, surprising as it may be, because most people don't see grabbing a person's arm forcefully when they are trying to leave as abuse, but it is.


Verbal abuse is the second most common one people think of, and it can be as obvious as physical. If someone is saying degrading things to someone, or swearing at them for seemingly no reason, this is verbal abuse. There is a difference between signs of a heated argument between two people, and someone abusing someone by screaming at them. Verbal abuse isn't always so loud and vulgar, however. Sometimes, it can be just a constant flow of negativity about the person they are talking to.


Emotional/mental abuse is the hardest one to spot, and often takes the longest to be found out by the person in the relationship. Emotional abuse is what people often call "mind games", where the abuser uses manipulation tactics to get the person to do what they want or to keep them from leaving. They force the person to become broken so that they feel like they can't leave the relationship, or feel they deserve what is happening to them. Emotional and mental abuse are some of the more dangerous because unlike verbal and physical, these types of abuse can go deep and cause a lot of issues with the victim that can be hard to resolve.


People believe narcissistic people use a lot of the verbal and physical abuse, but in many cases, narcissistic relationships contain a lot of emotional and mental abuse. The more 'shy' narcissists (called covert narcissists) especially use a lot of manipulation, perhaps not on purpose, to get what they want from the victim, or to keep them from being abandoned. It is subtle, such as pleading that they need their partner, or they often employ suicide threats to keep people around to protect them. That is still abuse.

3. There Can't Be Any Good Times With Narcissistic People

Many people, especially those that have been involved with narcissistic people for a long time, believe that they are just evil abusive people and have a lot of hate and anger towards them. While they are definitely not great people to be around, this does not mean there aren't any good times with them. Narcissists are still people, and at their core, a lot of them are just broken children trying to make their way in an adult world. Taking away their humanity and marking them as 'evil beings' will not help heal the victim, nor will it make anything with the narcissistic person better. Holding so much bitterness and hatred towards anyone can actually make getting away from them harder.


Narcissistic people can still be a fun partner, friend, family member, or co-worker. They can be the most hilarious guy in the room, or take people on the most incredible adventures. The issue is these times are often short lived, and become harder to find as the relationship progresses. The bad things start to become more frequent, but because of all the amazing times, of all the love people think they have with this person, they try to overlook the bad times. Everyone wants to see the best in someone. With these people, though, people have to realize that the good, and the bad, are not who the person is. A narcissist is nothing more than changing masks protecting the child within them that was broken in their childhood.


They are neither all the fun things, nor the terrible abusive things.

2. Narcissistic People Are Always Smooth Talkers

When some people think or narcissistic people, they picture someone who's got all the lines, who can come in the room and talk anyone into anything without even blinking. While this can be true for some of them, this is not universally true for all narcissistic people. In fact, a lot of the time, people report that these kinds of people tend to be socially awkward, unable to know when something is inappropriate to say in a conversation, and often trip over their own words when speaking. They can seem shy or reserved at times, which is an even bigger trap than someone who can sell water to a drowning man.


This isn't to say they can't talk anyone into doing what they want or giving them something. Somehow, even the ones who seem incapable of speaking a clear concise sentence can still get what they want.

1. All Narcissists/Narcissistic People Are Vain

This is a really common one that needs to be talked about. There are narcissistic people who really care about their looks, and feel that everything about them and the people around them has to look and be perfect. They care far more about their appearance than is normal, which is where this misconception comes from.


Then there are the narcissistic people who hardly shower, couldn't care less when their clothes were last washed, and who hardly ever clean their room/office/house. These people don't care about how they look at all, but they are still narcissistic and still dangerous.

© 2018 Caitlyn Booth

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