Local therapist: Stop labeling everyone a narcissist

It’s a popular term but causes harm when used incorrectly

Scroll through social media or talk to your friends, and chances are, you’ll come across the term “narcissist.”

The word has gotten somewhat trendy. It’s one of the most searched terms on the internet. However, mental health experts want you to hold off on using it so often to describe people you don’t like.

“They’re controlling. They don’t allow you to be an individual or think for yourself,” said Stephanie Bauer.

“I think of someone that’s super into themselves — uncaring, unfeeling, just doesn’t really have empathy,” said Nicole DiPillo.

DiPillo and Bauer are correct in describing narcissistic traits. However, there’s more to narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

NPD is a mental health condition, and individuals with it display a pervasive pattern of behaviors that impacts all areas of life. Only psychologists and psychiatrists can diagnose it.

Many of us have narcissistic traits, but it’s unclear how common narcissistic personality disorder is. According to researchers from the Cleveland Clinic, up to 5% of people in the U.S. have it. Symptoms include a grandiose sense of self-importance, a belief in superiority, and entitlement, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

“[Entitlement] is a big thing. The irritability, thin-skinned. They do not like to be told no,” licensed professional counselor Tracy Hurte said.

Hurte works with survivors of narcissistic abuse.

“Their mental stability is questioned. They could be scared. They could be confused,” said Hurte.

Hurte told KSAT that’s why she urges people who think they are or have been in a relationship with a narcissist to get help. But she also cautions people against labeling others as narcissists without a proper diagnosis.

“For those who actually have NPD, that creates a sense of rejection for them and also marginalizes them. And the other thing is it increases the stigma,” said Hurte.

There is no cure for narcissistic personality disorder, but there is treatment. Doctors recommend people with NPD get therapy and possibly medication if they have other mental health conditions, like depression.

Watch Stephania’s conversation with Tracy Hurte about narcissism below:

About the Authors

Stephania Jimenez is an anchor on The Nightbeat. She began her journalism career in 2006, after graduating from Syracuse University. She's anchored at NBC Philadelphia, KRIS in Corpus Christi, NBC Connecticut and KTSM in El Paso. Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Stephania considers Texas home. Stephania is bilingual! She speaks Spanish.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.

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