Is the term “Narcissistic Abuse” Albeist?

In this interview, Mandy Friedman and Michelle Minette discuss the meaning of narcissism, what Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is, and explore the use the term “narcissistic abuse”.

Key points:

  • If you’ve suffered narcissistic abuse, does it always mean the abuser is a narcissist?
  • Are narcissists mentally ill?
  • Do narcissists suffer?
  • Is labeling the abuse “narcissistic” uncompassionate to narcissists by overlooking the traumatic experiences that led to their disordered behavior?
  • Is it ok or possible to have compassion for a narcissist?

Calling the abuse “narcissistic” describes the nature of the abuse—it is not meant to diagnose the abuser. Someone does not have to be diagnosed with NPD to engage in narcissistic abuse toward you. People continuing to suffer from unhealed trauma, addiction, and traits from a variety of personality disorders abuse others in narcissistic ways. Therefore, identifying the type of abuse as narcissistic is not ableist.

Narcissistic abuse is important to recognize separately from other types of abuse because the recovery is different. Typical clinical training for healing from relationships is very effective for most situations but leaves clients suffering from narcissistic abuse feeling alienated and unheard. To argue against labeling abuse as narcissistic only extends the traumatic experience of the victim, perpetuating the abuse.

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Disclaimer: This content is intended for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for mental health treatment. It is important for survivors of abuse to find mental health professionals who understand trauma and abusive relationships. Please seek support from trusted and trained practitioners. This content is not meant to be used by anyone as diagnostic criteria. Permissions have not been granted for anyone to utilize this material as a source to make allegations about specific individuals. Any online content produced by Michelle Minette and F! All That Wellness Coaching is an educational discussion about narcissism which is a descriptive term for tendencies and behavioral patterns. Individuals with narcissistic features or tendencies do not necessarily meet DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. The terms narcissistic and narcissism are used as descriptions of tendencies and behaviors and are not meant as clinical terms.