If you are reading this article, you are likely aware of the active online conversation about narcissists and narcissism. Narcissism, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), is a serious psychological condition that affects a small percentage of people.
NPD requires a professional for proper diagnosis, but an understanding of the basic traits and characteristics of narcissism can help many people who are dealing with borderline narcissists. Non-technical discussions around narcissism are useful for describing individuals who often resort to narcissistic behavior in relationships, even if these individuals don’t have a proper NPD diagnosis.
Professional therapists, counselors, and psychologists might be wary if they hear you, as a layperson, bringing up narcissism. A mental health professional may view your non-clinical use of the terminology as revealing a lack of knowledge, rather than as the helpful professional tip you thought it would be.
You may get more respect from mental health professionals if you clarify whether your narcissist has been properly diagnosed with NPD or whether your narcissist exhibits behavior that you believe demonstrates narcissistic tendencies which create problems for you.
In Chapter 1 of Brene Brown’s popular book, The Power of Vulnerability, Brown muses about the current flurry of interest in narcissism and states that “as a mental health professional . . . it makes me wince a little.” She suggests that many people are tagging toxic behavior as narcissism without realizing that narcissism is a defined and serious mental health disorder.
To account for the lay interest in narcissism, she offers the conjecture that, when viewed through a lens of vulnerability, narcissistic traits might be a manifestation of “the shame-based fear of being ordinary.”
Brown theorizes that widespread narcissistic tendencies are a logical extension of living in a culture defined by “never-enough.” Never good enough, never powerful enough, never safe enough, never relevant enough, never extraordinary enough.
Related: Heavy Lies The Crown Of A Narcissist
Rather than dismissing narcissism as a junk diagnosis, most professionals recognize that when laypeople refer to a narcissist, they are referring to someone who exhibits many narcissistic traits, someone who is “on the spectrum,” so to speak. The narcissistic traits seem to fit a pattern, and these traits seem to be causing relationship problems. The non-narcissist finds solace and power in naming a problem and learning the terminology needed to talk about it.
As large numbers of laypeople have engaged in the online debate about narcissism, colorful terminology has sprung up to support the conversation. Mental health professionals like Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D., recognize that the slang terminology around narcissism can be helpful for people who are dealing with manipulative relationships, whether or not that person has any real understanding of what mental health professionals mean by an NPD diagnosis.
As Dr. Greenberg writes, “some of these [slang terms] are actually quite clever and capture important aspects of the experience of loving someone with NPD – 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.”
We’ve chosen seven of the most common slang terms used in the narcissism conversation. You might find these slang terms helpful, whether you are dealing with someone with a professional NPD diagnosis or whether you are dealing with someone on the spectrum.
7 Clever Slang Terms For Discussing Narcissism
1. Flying Monkeys
Flying Monkeys are unknowing people who are used by the narcissist to bolster the narcissist’s perspective. The flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz accomplished the Wicked Witch’s purposes. Similarly, flying monkeys in the world of narcissism are friends or family who the narcissist uses to persuade you of their point of view.