Use the word abuser instead…please.
The word Narcissist is thrown around these days like “nice” or “annoying.” And not only is that inappropriate but it can get our victim in trouble with her abuser AND the courts. First, let’s start with a story…
He made me sleep on my dead ex-husband’s mattress. I know, sounds shocking….
I was home from a vacation (which he was mad I took) and not sleeping well (which he blamed me for). After a few days, I realized that there was something different with our mattress. Upon inspection, I realized it was John’s (my deceased ex-husband’s) mattresses. As you can imagine, I was quite upset. With his usual condescending smirk, he explained, “I wanted to try it out, and I can do what I want. You need to calm down. You are too sensitive.” A fight ensued, and I slept in another room.
The next morning I arrived downstairs to my abuser separating out the utensil drawer into two piles – mine and his. “Is this what you want? Do you want to start separating the rest of your stuff?”
And I blurted out, “you are a narcissist.” This was a big mistake.
My abuser was a pro at turning the tables on me for the drama he had caused. Now, I had just poured gasoline on his fire in calling him a narcissist. “Oh, so you think you can diagnose me, doctor? Let me remind you that you aren’t qualified. Did you get this idea in one of your silly books? Has your shrink diagnosed me as well? I don’t want you seeing him anymore. Maybe I should see him and tell him my side of the story.” And he went on and on and on. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
If you do your research you will quickly learn that narcissists:
- Trample on your boundaries.
- Use everyone as a pawn.
- Do not have any empathy
- Have a constant need for attention
- Need to be admired at all times
- Are melodramatic with anything and everything to gain attention
- Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Believe they are superior to others in all ways imaginable.
- Cannot understand the needs of others and are unwilling to care
- Demandd they are the highest priority in all of the land.
- Steer all conversations back to them.
- Degrade, humiliate and confuse all around them to stay in control
- Rage to create chaos and obtain compliance
- Take everything personally, believing it is an attack on their ego.
- Are extremely jealous.
- Tear down anything and anyone that threatens them.
Your partner may exhibit every single one of these traits – to perfection. You, your therapist, girlfriends, family members, colleagues, and loved ones may all feel with every ounce of their beings that your abuser is a narcissist. Just don’t let him know. You will get the verbal beat down.
Now, the second reason is insider information: judges do not like it when a victim and her legal team use the word. Don’t use the label to describe the abuser in any way including in court, conferences, or in any communications. The legal system ONLY allows for the confirmed diagnosis and punishes the victims for playing armchair psychologist.. The judge may rule against the victim or get stricter in future positions simply because of this action.
One of the biggest issues in getting a diagnosis is that in most cases, the abuser will not go to therapy. Therefore, an actual diagnosis is never received. If the abuser does agree to attend counseling, he sits with a counselor and lies right through his teeth as he laments that he is, in fact, the victim. He paints his target as crazy or unreasonable and will say anything and everything to make his case clear. And if the therapist disagrees, he goes after her professionally, ruining his/her practice and forbidding the victim from having ANY future contract. Also, in most cases, a good family therapist isn’t going to label so your chances of him/her presenting anything to the court are slim to none.
I read THIS article claiming we need to have more respect for the narcissist and his pain and stop sterotyping people. Her point is that it is a diagnosable mental health condition and should not be thrown around flippantly. I think this perspective is inappropriate and paints the narc as a victim. In reality, they are a destructive tsunami in the lives of their own victims. The entire mental health profession needs to find a clear path to heal those who have been impacted by the rage, chaos, pain and confusion, rather than concern themselves with how the narcissist feels with a label. And let me be clear, narcissists don’t have feelings anyway, so what is the point?
To just take a hop forward, my comment of calling him a narcissist now gave him another line to use intermittently throughout the rest of our relationship. “Oh, I don’t want to say anything out of line or Dr. Gardella will diagnose me.”
Now, you may be wondering, Jen, what was your ex-husbands mattress doing in your home to begin with? Good question. That is a story for another day.