The Truth About How Common Narcissism Really Is

Jennifer March, MS

Understanding how common narcissism truly is.

With the word 'narcissist' becoming more popular, it’s essential to understand what narcissism is and hope common it actually is. Narcissism is a set pattern of behavior laced with grandiosity, arrogance, low self-esteem, and an overinflated ego.

Narcissistic personality disorder is the only disorder that can honestly label someone as a narcissist. Otherwise, people can most certainly have narcissistic traits. This is where people can usually get their wires crossed: are they are narcissists, or do they have narcissistic traits.

Everyone has narcissistic traits; it’s not inappropriate to care about yourself. From your looks to your self-esteem, it’s all completely normal. Now narcissism is a long pattern of narcissistic behaviors that impact someone and others around them.

So the issue that it comes down to is: do we look at the rate of people with NPD, or do we look at those with elevated narcissistic traits? For the purpose of this article, we are going to explore the prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder.

Is NPD common?

There are roughly 0.5% of the population in the United States that have a narcissistic personality disorder. But it is important to note that only people clinically diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are included in this statistic. This is a relatively low number, but there are always conditions behind these statistics that we have to keep in mind.

Not every narcissist out there is clinically diagnosed (and maybe they should be), so that’s a thought to consider when looking at this statistic. Someone can display the symptoms for years, cause havoc — but never be seen or treated.

Not every narcissist wants treatment or even to see a doctor. Even if that narcissist sees a doctor, they may not be diagnosed because they withhold information.

Overall, there are many different reasons why someone wouldn’t want to seek treatment. In the end, a narcissist doesn’t see anything wrong with them or their behavior. Their self-esteem may not be able to handle that kind of blow also.

So know that not every person you meet who is rude or off-putting is a narcissist. A narcissist is someone with a long pattern of behavior that makes them a narcissist.

I have met a few narcissists in my life, but (unfortunately) for me, they were all family members. Other than that, I really haven’t met too many narcissists in the outside world.

I didn’t have enough time to honestly know them — or they simply had narcissistic traits.

What is NPD?

Narcissism can come from childhood abuse and many different factors. Through narcissistic personality disorder, it is essential to understand its root. Why does it happen? Understanding the disorder behind a narcissist can help spread more accurate information about narcissists.

It has been shown that childhood abuse is connected to depression, aggression, anger, hostile behavior, anxiety, and personality disorders in adulthood.

Through abuse, that child develops to survive in their environment. With a combination of genetics, parenting, and overall treatment within their life, the stage can be set for someone to develop a narcissistic personality disorder.

Not every unkind person is a narcissist

Understanding a narcissist is all fine and good. Still, the narcissistic traits are what people are genuinely interested in (they just don’t know it yet).

The human personality can be divided into so many subparts. There are many different facets and aspects to understanding someone’s personality.

I have met some genuinely mean people in my life, outside of my family, but deep down, those people were not narcissists. People under intense stress can act out of character, causing them to look like a narcissist.

So it is essential to know that someone can be selfish, rude, gaslighting, and simply not narcissistic. But they can sure act like a narcissist sometimes! Or so it feels.

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Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes and from different walks of life. No two narcissists will act the same. But we still have to be careful when using the term narcissist — it needs to be saved for the people who are genuinely narcissists. If you’d like to read more on my journey with my narcissist, I encourage you to check out my narcissistic abuse story.

Overall, narcissism is not prevalent is terms of size and how many people are diagnosed. But that does not lessen the significant impact that person may have on other people’s lives.

So you may never encounter a true narcissist in your life, but knowing the signs and symptoms can help you stay safe and aware.

As originally posted on Medium

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Psych nerd turned freelance writer | MS in Psychology | Mom of two cats and some house plants | #MentalHealthAdvocate #BeKind

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