Thursday, 12 July 2018

Knowing how to use the correct terms

On a day when a certain well-known president is dining in the same shire, a consideration of terminology may be in order.

He is often referred to as a narcissist, but I wonder how many people who use the term have the training necessary to use it correctly. (I'm not saying they're wrong, though!)

At the weekend, someone I had just met told me I was clearly autistic, on the grounds that I spoke in short sentences. She did then go on to say that she was autistic, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that she was socially inappropriate. But she made no mention of qualifications or the autistic triad, so I suspect she was basing her judgement on an informal knowledge of the subject. I was trying to concentrate on something else, so I didn't go into the details of my shyness, introversion and general fatigue. And autism is a spectrum, so it's possible I'm on it somewhere, but a swift assessment based on a two minute distracted conversation is not a reliable one.

In general, we bandy about labels with a casual knowledge of their meaning, and it's not always helpful. It can lead to prejudice and hurt, whether intentional or otherwise. We really shouldn't make such swift judgements of people, even though first impressions matter. Unlike Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, we should allow our first impressions to be overruled by a greater knowledge of the other person. In other words, give people a chance. Two minutes is not enough. Two years probably is.

For what it's worth, Psychology Today's definition of narcissism says:  
"The hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also concentrate on grandiose fantasies (e.g. their own success, beauty, brilliance) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. ... 
"People with narcissistic personality disorder believe they are superior or special, and often try to associate with other people they believe are unique or gifted in some way. This association enhances their self-esteem, which is typically quite fragile underneath the surface. Individuals with NPD seek excessive admiration and attention in order to know that others think highly of them. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder have difficulty tolerating criticism or defeat..." 
(Psychology Today UK

Remind you of anyone?

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