The Narcissistic Dictionary: Terms That Describe Narcissistic Behaviors

The Narcissistic Dictionary: Terms That Describe Narcissistic Behaviors

The Narcissistic Dictionary: Terms That Describe Narcissistic Behaviors – A basic guide to gaslighting, love bombing, hoovering, and flying monkeys.

The Narcissistic Dictionary

A basic guide to gaslighting, love bombing, hoovering, and flying monkeys. Written by Dr. Elinor Greenberg

When I first entered the online conversation about narcissistic personality disorder, I discovered that a number of slang terms were being used to describe narcissistic behaviors that I had never encountered in academic writing. Eventually, I deciphered their meanings.

Some of these terms are actually quite clever and capture important aspects of the experience of loving someone with a narcissistic personality disorder—such as gaslighting, hoovering, and flying monkeys. However, many of these terms are being misused in much the same way that uninformed people casually label people as narcissists without any real understanding of what mental health professionals mean by that diagnosis.

So, in the interests of clarity, I have started to assemble a glossary in which I define the most frequently encountered narcissistic slang terms in ways that are consistent with both my professional knowledge of narcissistic personality disorder and also with how these terms are currently being used in blogs and online articles by non-mental health professionals. I also try, where possible, to provide the source for these terms because knowing the original context often clarifies the meaning.

Note: In this post, I am using the terms “narcissist” and “narcissistic” as shorthand ways to describe someone who qualifies for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.

1. Gaslighting

Source: This term comes from a 1938 play called “Gaslight” and the two later 1940’s movie remakes. The play and the movies are set during the late 19th century when gas lights were used for indoor lighting. The basic plot concerns a husband Gregory who is trying to convince his new wife Paula that she is going insane so he can have her committed and get her power of attorney. Unbeknownst to Paula, Gregory is also covertly searching their house for the valuable jewels that he believes are hidden there.

Gregory is a master manipulator and he heartlessly does whatever he can to make Paula doubt herself. He searches the attic causing the gas lights in the rest of the house to dim, but when Paula comments on the dimming lights, Gregory denies that it is happening and tells her that she is imagining things. He takes things, like Paula’s brooch, and then tries to convince Paula that she is losing things and that her memory is not to be trusted. Similarly, when she says that she has heard footsteps the attic, instead of Gregory admitting that he has been up there, he claims that these, like the gaslights and the missing brooch, are all figments of Paula’s disordered imagination and proof that she is going crazy.

NPD Meaning:

Narcissistic gaslighting occurs when people with narcissistic personality disorder refuse to admit that they are wrong or have done something bad to their mate. Even when they are caught in the act, they will often try to convince the other person that he or she is paranoid and is imagining the whole thing.

Example: Betty and the Texts.

Betty has long suspected that her husband Dan might be having an affair, but she had no real proof. He had started staying late at work and a few times had come home drunk with his clothing rumpled. One day when Dan was in the shower, she glanced at his phone and saw a series of sexy text messages from some woman.

Betty confronted Dan with the texts and asked him point-blank who this woman was and told him about her suspicions that he is having an affair. Instead of telling his wife the truth, Dan gaslights her and says: “You must be crazy. Why are you so paranoid all of a sudden? I have no idea who that woman is who texted me. She must have the wrong number.”

1 thought on “The Narcissistic Dictionary: Terms That Describe Narcissistic Behaviors”

  1. When I got married, I was confined to a room but had to go downstairs to help my mother in law in the kitchen. After I got married, she made the maid stop assisting in the kitchen especially in what I was given to do.
    Kitchen was downstairs, everyday she would bring tea in the morning, check my things, and remind me to come downstairs. Morning and afternoon. In the afternoon, if she caught me studying, she would begin to poke and goad me about my studies, force me to explain anatomy, physiology, endocrinology. It wasn’t her cup of tea but I couldn’t deny it. Everyday she would go downstairs and make big fuss about her studies and I was unable to understand. I would try my best to explain her but everyday she would bring about some drama. She would come to my room and tell me, she doesn’t have detergent soap, shampoo etc. And her son i.e my husband is not paying heed to it. I didn’t quite get her drift. I assumed she wanted me to convey it to him but when I informed me about it, he got infuriated that she’s getting everything, and she started blaming me, crying and yelling. It continued almost every single day. A new drama. I started avoiding them, then another drama. She would definitely come to poke and goad no matter how much dramas were delivered yesterday and then whatever I ‘said’, just said there had to be another drama. Then I had no knowledge of emotional abuse or such thing take place or countless such examples are present in domestic violence cases.
    Sometimes she would plan bigger dramas, she would sit back and begin pricking her nose for hours until it starts to bleed. Then she will start hollering, abusing, tear her cloths, go out and wallow in dust, crying, abusing us. It was all shit. Now when I am living away, she has come. And within two hours when I was studying, she made such a big fuss. Wherever I have lived ( in the rented house) she and her son never left a stone unturned to make it a hell. Intially, I thought that my husband wasn’t involved in this. But actually it had always been his plan.

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