Recently, I read an article, written by a mental health professional regarding narcissistic personality disorder, that made a derogatory statement about there being so much information online written by lay-folk regarding personality disorders. My first thought was, yeah, due to having the misfortune of experiencing an NPD at an intimate level, some lay-folk understand narcissism better than certain clinicians. I don’t mean non-professionals should try to diagnose each new acquaintance, but psychologists aren’t infallible, and they, too, may be fooled by a narcissist playing the role of a decent human being. Having the training and a degree doesn’t necessarily mean the therapist learned it correctly or actually knows how to apply the knowledge appropriately. Reading about the traits of personality disorders and psychopathy in textbooks isn’t the same as encountering them in the wild.
As far as armchair psychologists go, who better to identify an NPD than someone who lives or works closely with one of these toxic individuals? We see their true faces, the ones most of them would never show a clinician. And for those of us who have had our lives poisoned by a narcissist, is it so difficult to understand why we would want to label the people we must interact with as either safe or not safe? Maybe some abuse survivors are a little too quick to apply a narcissism label to those whom it doesn’t necessarily apply to, but it’s better for the emotional abuse survivor to recognize enough red flags to know that s/he wants to avoid certain individuals who have negative characteristics. Does it matter whether said individuals are merely a lesser form of toxic/manipulative/dysfunctional types rather than bona fide psychopaths?
Inevitably, the people narcissists abuse see them as they really are, without the mask of humanity they (NPDs) wear in public. The abused are aware that the toxic behavior is deep-rooted, chronic; the NPD’s lies, manipulation, intimidation, gaslighting, etc. occur consistently, on a daily basis. Sure, once in a while, the non-disordered may exhibit one or more of these negative traits, but when manipulation and lies are the dominant part of a personality, it’s a good indication that the individual will cause those closest to them limitless amounts of misery.
As for mental health professionals, when narcissists are in the same room with a counselor, they adopt whatever persona they want the therapist to see and then act their way through the session. The therapist doesn’t follow the patient around to observe the chronic, malignant personality traits that are generally kept hidden from public view, especially from anyone in the mental health field. So, armchair psychologists — are we really such a bad thing?