How do you know a person who you are forced to deal with on a regular basis is acting narcissistic? One of the first red flags and warning signs a person behaves in egocentric ways is they behave with a pervasive sense of entitlement. But acting narcissistic and having NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) are two incredibly different things. It’s important to understand the difference between having a mental health condition and simply being guilty of engaging in self-centered, obnoxious habits that reflect immature or socially dysfunctional thinking. There are right ways and wrong ways to use the word Narcissist to describe another human being’s psychiatric behavior. Get smart about your word choices and resist the urge to engage in academically catty linguistic behaviors.
Never call someone a Narcissist in order to insult them or express your own displeasure with their behavior
Back in the day — referring to the mid to late 20th century, parents and grandparents might have called a person vain, self-centered, or conceited. In that sense, narcissism (as an adjective rather than a noun or verb) had a slightly different meaning. Taking the word use into consideration, many people who hear the word still feel compelled to use it as an insult. Such people display both a profound lack of common sense academic education, as well as themselves, by enacting narcissistic behaviors, noting that making ad hominem attacks on people’s character by calling them things like Narcissists or “Psychos” is the medical equivalent of calling a normal person a “retard” for showing poor judgment. If you are wondering how to figure out if a person you know (and quite possibly love) is a Narcissist, think about the terms you or someone else may use to describe their behavior. Define your terms — meaning, understand that Narcissism (a noun, a thing to be or have) is not an adjective. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are Narcissists; calling someone who fails to meet diagnostic criteria for Narcissism simply because they behave in ways that are selfish, egocentric, or contrary to social, religious, or political belief is absolutely abusive to both the person being name-called as well as completely disrespectful to victims of people who have NPD.
How to describe narcissistic behavior without using inappropriate Psychology terms
In order to describe narcissistic behavior without resorting to rampant, caustic, and derogatory (inflammatory) name calling, consider using the following key terms and or key phrases to describe people who are by cultural habit or lackadaisical behavior behaving in ways that are inherently toxic. All items are hot-linked to Thesaurus.com for your convenience. Ways to describe an egocentric person who fails to meet diagnostic criteria for having NPD include (but are not limited to) the following terms. If you know a person or peer group who acts egotistical and presents themselves with an overarching level of toxic hubris, even if they are not Narcissists by nature it is totally okay to point out when and if they are acting conceited:
— thinks they are better than everyone else (smarter, more capable, more skilled, more attractive, better than, whatever…)
— big talker, talks a great game, loves to run their mouth, provocateur, pot stirrer, loves to talk crap
— full of themselves
— presents themselves as dominant personality (sometimes with merit but most oftentimes not)
— conceited, arrogant, haughty, self-centered, entitlement-based thinkers
— pathological liar, untrustworthy, compulsive storyteller, pathological liar or person who greatly over-exaggerates
— obnoxious, over the top
— life of the party, joker, antagonist, caustic humorist, sarcastic, the Riddler
— Somatic Narcissist**, sexy, sexpot, sex addict, hot to trot, serial cheater
— full of themselves, braggart, show-off
— Cerebral Narcissism**, academic snob, intellectual snobbery, puffery
— won’t shut up, refuses to listen
— fake, false, poser, suck up, disingenuous, con artist, manipulative, faker, the Great Pretender
— overinflated sense of ego or self-worth, advocating their needs or demands be met at the expense of others, blustery, intimidating
— egocentrism, “the world revolves around me”, compulsively dominant, grandstanding, habitually attention-seeking
— argumentative for the sake of being argumentative or combative ONLY, smarty pants
— bratty, better than or “holier than thou” attitude
— arrogant, haughty
— big headed, too big for their britches
— Somatic Narcissist **, obsessed with appearance, highly competitive and prone to obsessive jealous rages
— epic douchebaggery 😉
— pompous, blustery, someone who sees every conversation as an opportunity to aggressively assert their own opinion in order to dominate
When folks behave “narcissistically” or act “narcy” (in general), the behavior should be called out for what it rightfully is without a victim feeling the need to insult every single victim of true Narcissists by hijacking the word (in psychological terms). To do so displays an appalling lack of insight, awareness, and character in the name-caller, a propensity to bully while making over the top, grandiose, and antagonizing statements, and it undermines all social awareness progress true victims have been striving to make on behalf of victims. Grandstanding while hijacking the psychological term minimizes the effect of true victim’s who are already nervous about sharing their domestic violence, domestic abuse, schoolyard bullying, or workplace bullying experiences. If you have compassion at all for THEIR very real legal, moral, and social plight, stop using the word “Narcissist” like it’s a term to assassinate the character of a biological normal and fully functional, non-deviant person.
How to tell the difference between a Narcissist and a person who is narcissistic by nurture
Bullying, mobbing, scapegoating, targeting, smear campaigning, gaslighting, and pathologically lying are all things people with full-blown NPD readily engage in by common habit. However, one does not have to be a Narcissist to behave in ways that show little to no concern for how one’s behavior affects others.
People who are Narcissists by nature tend to meet diagnostic criteria for having NPD. A preponderance of psychological evidence exists that suggests all people with NPD are egocentric by nature and have a functional incapacitation with regard to having the biological or psychological ability to “feel” a full range of human emotion. As part of their limited range of ability to grasp emotional intelligence, they all pervasively show limited to no empathy for other human beings. Additionally, many seem to display covert or overt sadistic streaks.
Narcissistic people, on the other hand, can feel a full range of human emotion but by choice or lack of proper socialization in youth fail to connect the dots intellectually between their own sense of self and the fundamental human rights needs of others. Such hubris is often taught by culture, with toxic families encouraging beliefs that competition between humans (rather than collaboration) is normal and healthy.
A Narcissist has little to no respect for others unless they are impressed by someone’s more dominant, aggressive, or controlling nature. They approach every social interaction on the offense, reacting defensively to any and all conversations or situations as if there must be one winner (themselves) — while perceiving any other parties involved in conversation or who witness them behaving like they’re in the lead as chumps, narcissistic supply sources, or emotional vampire food [having targeted scapegoats and unsuspecting targets to pay attention to them so they can feed off them like sneaky wolves slyly hunting then choosing to devour sheep].
As such, it’s crucial not only for the sake of promoting a healthful pop culture dialog about such personality traits and/or tendencies but to heal (as victims of psychological, social, physical, spiritual, financial, medical, and legal abuse) to be quite clear when sharing subjective stories about having suffered or witnessed abuse. To do otherwise counteracts positive psychological neurolinguistic re-framing.
Victim shaming, ad hominem attacks, and ridiculing behavior
Individuals with C-PTSD should be especially mindful when reading this list to “read” the words in their proper context, noting many phrases presented are the same words shouted at targeted scapegoats by abusers who compulsively try to gaslight victims into believing that abuse is their fault, that they are unworthy of being treated with fundamental human respect, dignity, or kindness, and those who passive-aggressively enable abusers while falsely projecting such toxic attributes on those who have been traumatized by active abusers.
If you want to make yourself look like an idiot, keep pointing the blaming finger at everyone who disagrees with you on a particular subject or issue while hollering, “Narcissist! Psycho! Sociopath!”, have at it. However, in academic social circles related to the mental health care, psychology, and sociology circles, it makes even the most intelligent people in the world sound confrontational, petty, self-entitled, profoundly uneducated, and — quite frankly — foolish. As such, when name-calling is being used as a grassroots marketing strategy to advocate for legal and moral justice on behalf of victims, the entire vocabulary use habit comes across as demoralizing to traumatized people and dumb.
So, with all these key Narcissistic Abuse vocabulary terms in mind, readers — if you can’t say anything nice about a person to their face or behind their back, at the very least resist the urge to name-call for fun. Not only will people who have already transitioned from victim status to survivor be more inclined to help you come to your next stage of “Ah-ha Moments” if you learn to use self-help terms properly in such a way that they reflect an academic sense of propriety, ultimately it’s a respectful habit that is likely to make you feel better about yourself for having conscientiously adopted by an act of free will a good habit.