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This , please remember to stop stigmatizing diagnoses. Yes, including that one. That one, too. The personality disorders that it's become cool to hate on? Also off limits.

narcissistic personality disorder stigma, abuse 

This is getting appalling with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in particular. It seems to be popular to conflate "narcissist" with "abuser," which, just, no. And I say this as someone whose abuser has strong narcissistic tendencies. His narcissism did not make him an abuser, his decision to use others as therapy objects instead of seeking real help did.

NPD, like any other mental condition or for that matter any other characteristic (sexuality, culture, age, gender...), deeply shapes and influences the context of abuse. I can understand that victims of narcissistic abuse might need different resources and spaces from those who suffered other forms of abuse. I am not here to invalidate anyone's experience.

What I object to is the diagnosis being conflated with abuse. Narcissistic abuse is only one form of abuse, and a lot of people seem to think it's the only form, essentially giving non-narcissistic abusers a pass or expanding the definition of NPD beyond all recognition. Your parents make you do too much housework? Must be narcissists! No that is not what it means in any shape or form. Meanwhile people with NPD are labeled as inherently abusive, which is simply not how anything works and makes it harder for them to seek help.

a note & apology on "narcissistic abuse" 

Thanks to @raspberry 's feedback, I've realized that the term "narcissistic abuse" is itself deeply stigmatizing and is likely rife with inaccuracy, and I apologize for thoughtlessly using it. While abuse by NPD individuals may have unique characteristics that give rise to different experiences and require different kinds of help and resources, it furthers the conflation and stigmatization I spoke about to label a whole form of abuse after a diagnosis. People do in fact talk actively about specific forms of abuse in neurodivergent/mental illness communities such as multi/plural, but that can and does happen without labeling already marginalized groups.

Rather than redraft the toot which would orphan our discussions I would like to issue this retraction and apology instead to leave a record of how I myself learned.I encourage you to read Connor's thoughts on this thread, many of which I have boosted, since they put it much better.

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

This conflation of diagnosis with abuse can lead to some unbelievable situations, like when someone tried to start a discussion about non-abusive narcissistic traits like their dad's constant bragging and tall tales, and someone came in insisting those behaviors were in fact abusive. Like, really? The main basis for redefining op's experience for them seemed to be that these behaviors were narcissistic. How does this help op or any abuse survivor? I can say with 1000% certainty that these narcissistic behaviors were not what hurt me; they can be annoying and embarrassing, but they were not in of themselves abusive outside a context of coercion and misuse of power.

The conflation of NPD with abuse also means the victimization of people with NPD, actual or potential, is seldom talked about. Just read through the traits of NPD and you can see how vulnerable someone like this can be to, for instance, financial abuse by appealing to their need to be important, or exploitation by convincing them they are a special and heroic rescuer. But if daring to state from personal experience that some people with NPD are not abusive gets pushback like the above, good luck talking about people with NPD being victimized or needing help!

@mearcstapa most cluster B personality disorders are extremely maligned. @ljwrites

@ljwrites this is something i am not that good at yet, and i am working hard to get better at. soooooo much stigma around mental health and neuroatypical folks to unlearn. and i'm autistic, i should know better! but it turns out societal brainwashing since birth is really effective and you've gotta constantly work at it.

@tessaracht yeah the internalized stuff and the sniping between neurodivergent communities can be a trip, too. Also playing respectability politics with diagnoses, like anxiety is okay but NPD is evil... fucking yikes.

@ljwrites yeah. it's all real bad and we need to come together to reject it.

@tessaracht ableism hurts all of us, and trying to benefit off of it as a "good" neurodivergent person who's against the "bad" ones is incredibly not okay.

narcissistic personality disorder stigma, abuse 

@ljwrites i feel icky in general about calling anything narcissistic abuse at all, personally — it always feels bad to read people being like. yes people w NPD are not inherently abusive but this is the only personality disorder we’re going to claim as a “type” of abuse, this is the one we’re going to specifically single out! i cannot think of a single other disorder that gets that treatment & it’s gross and unnecessary imo.

narcissistic personality disorder stigma, abuse 

@ljwrites like, y’know, someone w depression who is also abusive can definitely have that influenced by being depressed, but it’s not called depression abuse or anything. it’s inherently stigmatizing to have the term at all, i think. the nuances can be discussed and aided w victims without classifying NPD as a type of abuse, or as inherently linked

narcissistic personality disorder stigma, abuse 

@ljwrites this is also, specifically, abt the way it’s phrased in the last paragraph of your toot, and the way i’ve seen people continue to call it narcissistic abuse but handwave about “but obviously i don’t think everyone who has NPD is abusive”, fyi, not just in addition to what you’re saying. it’s a very specific way of pretending to care while also still doing the thing causing major harm

narcissistic personality disorder stigma, abuse 

@raspberry How is it harmful to say, though, that I was abused by someone whose narcissism influenced the way they abused me? How does that say that all people with NPD are abusive?

narcissistic personality disorder stigma, abuse 

@ljwrites it doesn’t — what i’m saying is the classification of it as narcissistic abuse as a whole is what does that. obviously an abuser also having NPD can & will influence that. it’s the fact that it’s the only personality disorder that’s suddenly got a “type” of abuse named after it, and people seem unwilling to recognize why that’s harmful while still saying they know not everyone with NPD is abusive.

narcissistic personality disorder stigma, abuse 

@raspberry the designation is absolutely inaccurate and a mess, it's true. Thank you for pointing that out.

on the designation of "narcissistic abuse" 

@raspberry that's a great point, and I think it's one where I might have been misled by this huge movement of people who were abused by people with NPD identifying it as a separate form of abuse. Given the issues I myself raised here, I now have to wonder about the accuracy of the designation or at least the sheer size of it. I think there could be aspects of abuse by NPD individuals that might be unique, such as one's life being made to revolve around a parent's preoccupation with their own superiority and worth. At the same time, is that meaningfully different from being pushed around by strict parents who are not narcissistic but still have very set ideas about their children's lives? And how accurately is the term "narcissistic" being used? I'm not sure if these questions have been adequately explored.

on the designation of "narcissistic abuse" 

@ljwrites yea, exactly — and it may just be like. obviously no one has exactly the same experiences on the internet/i haven’t seen the exact same things but i rarely saw people talk about “narcissistic” abuse in its recent boost in discussion as, like, “my abuser was diagnosed w NPD”, it tended to be. “my abuser was like this” where some other person would cut in and be like “sounds like narcissistic abuse, check out xyz thing”.

on the designation of "narcissistic abuse" 

@ljwrites it would make sense if it did start out from the former but at least i never saw a lot of discussion w its recent boost focusing on that, it always seemed to be armchair-diagnosing one’s abusers to Explain their abuse, which, not ideal for a multitude of reasons!

on the designation of "narcissistic abuse" 

@ljwrites it’s a bit of a “people who know their abusers had NPD can & should be able to find comfort & community in other people with similar experiences in the ways the abuse manifested” and “designating NPD as a ‘type’ of abuse because of that is inherently stigmatizing and has led to a lot of armchair diagnosing of abusers to ‘explain’ their abuse by blaming it on NPD” are two statements that can & should coexist moment, i think

a note & apology on "narcissistic abuse" 

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@ljwrites This is a really good thread. Thank you!

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@aderieg Thanks, I'm happy it's helpful! 👍 This thread brought to you courtesy of too much time spent on Reddit... the horror...

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@ljwrites Thank you for this! I have a close person to me who has NPD. They aren't abusive or toxic, but the stigma is strong.

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@Cyborgneticz I can only imagine how they feel when people toss around "narcissist" like it's synonymous for "evil" 😬 it's all the worse because NPD is often traumagenic--like, so much for supporting mentally ill survivors when the same people who say that are so willing to demonize a whole group of them regardless of what they did or didn't do!

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@ljwrites They don't talk about it as much anymore. But it's been painful to see how NPD puts ppl at risk of being in emotionally abusive relationships cause of the early love bombing and then wanting n needing that all over again 😦
It is so disappointing to see other mentally ill ppl write folks off for a diagnosis. We fight for folks with other personality disorders, why not NPD folks

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@Cyborgneticz ouch, I can see how people people with NPD would be extra vulnerable to love bombing--it's basically the NPD person's dream, to be told they're special and irreplaceable in a way that fills the void inside :( Just yet more things that don't get talked about in the oh-so-radical-and-leftist mental illness circles because people with NPD have to be the designated villains for everyone else.

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@ljwrites It really doesn't feel like it should be so impossible to hold space for ppl with NPD as well as space for folks who have been abused n hurt by ppl with NPD.

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@Cyborgneticz a classic case of black-and-white, us-against-them thinking of one-sided villains and victims, argh. Social justice via Disney narratives, I guess.

specific harms of NPD stigma, abuse discussion 

@ljwrites Ugh yeah

Re: "narcissistic abuse" 

@ljwrites another thing that bothers me about "narcissistic abuse" being the one drawer every experience gets crammed into is that it distracts from the person's experience of abuse and focuses on the abuser instead. Like when someone shares something and would rather just talk about that, and instead it turns into speculations on the motives and psychological landscape of the ppl who did this to them. Not cool.

Re: "narcissistic abuse" 

@maunzi yup, to the extent the characteristics of the abuser/abusive environment have value they would be characteristics that would have bearing on the victim's experience, for instance survivors of religious or spiritual abuse may have different challenges and routes to healing. But centering the experience of abuse on the abuser... fuck that noise.

re: narcissistic personality disorder stigma, abuse, pedophilia, child abuse 

@ljwrites I know little if anything about NPD, but the pattern is easy to spot. The example below is not an exact parallel but it's a case of jumping from diagnosis to behaviour that is potentially hurtful not only to the individual, but society in general.

For example I recall seeing this in the response to the idea that medicalising pedophilia. The idea is that if pedophilia is established as a sexual orientation, it could allow pedophiles to seek professional help, which in turn could reduce cases of child abuse. Pretty similar actually to arguments regarding decriminalising drugs. Not the same thing ofc, but similar. The eventuality is pedophiles can access teraphy through programs like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevention_Project_Dunkelfeld, and they can be taught how to be responsible about their situation and how to contain it, so that child abuse does not happen. Research can be conducted responsibly and ethically.

The reaction is predictable: "ScIeNtIsTs AnD SjWs WaNnA NoRmAlIsE pEdOpHiLiAaAaAa!!1!1!" "ThE lEfT wAnTs To FuCk YoUr KiDsSsSs!!1!!!1!"---and similar. Because the colloquialism of "pedophile = child abuser" is the first thing to come to mind. But if we didn't fall for that logical fallacy, we could spread these policies wider and maybe drastically reduce cases of sexual abuse of children. Not only does that attitude hurt these people who could instead be seeking help, it's also potentially hurting children.

(p.s. the reason I say "potentially" a lot is ofc that I'm no expert; I've only read a couple news stories and don't know for sure the extent of the effectiveness of this effort, tho it does look like it works)

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Rage.love

Generalist Hometown instance with a strong focus on community standards. No TERF, no SWERF, no Nazi, no Centrist.

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