There are many myths about narcissists. This post addresses some of the common ones & why these myths are wrong.
“Narcissism is a disorder. They can’t help their behavior.” While narcissism is listed as a personality disorder, it isn’t a typical mental disorder. Personality disorders describe dysfunctional behavior rather than a physical problem with someone’s brain. If you doubt this, watch any narcissist around someone they want to impress & their victim. Their behavior will be extremely different with each person.
“Narcissists don’t know what they’re doing hurts people.” Yes they do know. They know that what they are doing causes pain & suffering, but they don’t care. This is because one of the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a complete lack of empathy. If you have doubts, watch a narcissist’s reaction when they hurt you. Chances are you will see a sign of satisfaction the moment they realize how badly they hurt you. A slight smirk, smug facial expression or glimmer in their eyes are the most common signs.
“If you tell a narcissist that what they’re doing hurts you, they’ll change their behavior.” That lack of empathy thing? That is exactly why this is wrong. Narcissists do NOT care about any pain & suffering they cause. In fact, if you tell them that something they have done hurts you, chances are excellent that they’ll do that behavior again because they know how much it hurts you.
“He/She has been abused. That behavior is all they know.” Maybe this is true. Many narcissists have been abused & because of that, they don’t know how to behave in a healthy way. That being said though, anyone knows that if something hurts them, it will hurt someone else. That should be a sign that they shouldn’t do certain things! Even if they don’t really know what to do, they absolutely know what they shouldn’t do.
“Narcissists aren’t so bad. They’re just selfish.” Narcissists aren’t your average, garden variety selfish jerk. Average selfish people simply don’t think of others as much as they should. They aren’t necessarily out to cause pain, but rather it is a consequence of their lack of consideration of others. When they learn they have hurt someone, they apologize & try to change their behavior. Narcissists enjoy causing pain. They also care only about what they want, so hurting others to get those things won’t upset them. They won’t apologize sincerely or change their selfish behavior no matter how much pain they cause.
“No one can be a narcissist & be active in the church/a teacher/a doctor/a police officer/a therapist.” Narcissists are attracted to the so called “helping professions.” People admire, respect & obey those in helping professions. Narcissists crave that sort of treatment from others like oxygen. They also enjoy being in control, & those positions offer them some degree of authority over others.
“Narcissists are all alike so it’s easy to find ways to deal with them.” Lots of no in this statement!! While many narcissists behave much the same way, that doesn’t mean they’re all alike. Not only are there different types of narcissists, but each one is also an individual with their own unique personality, likes, dislikes, quirks & more. Also Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a spectrum disorder. Someone who exhibits almost all or all behaviors of NPD is known as a malignant narcissist. They are impossible to deal with & are much more dangerous than someone who exhibits only a few traits.
“Narcissists are easy to identify. They brag about themselves & their accomplishments.” There are overt narcissists who behave this way but that doesn’t describe all narcissists. Covert narcissists are the opposite. They are often meek, quiet, appear very unassuming & even not very intelligent. They appear selfless & even martyr-like. People admire them for being such good people, which provides them a lot of admiration.
This is hardly an all inclusive list of myths, but I hope this short list helps you anyway.