Perhaps this unfortunate soul should have asked me, “Is narcissism and narcissistic disorder on the rise?”

His question assumes it fact that these psychological traits are on the rise. I say, “Show me your data.” We have absolutely no idea of today’s rates of narcissism/narcissistic disorder vs. those same rates 10, 20, 30, 40 or more years ago. There are very valid, common-sense reasons for this:

  1. It can often be difficult to get two psychological professionals to agree on the diagnosis of any Cluster B personality disorder, let alone the majority of said industry. This makes “measuring” narcissism/narcissistic personality disorder very difficult, thus making a comparison between eras even more so.
  2. Without the vast majority of the psychological profession AND a valid measuring tool for narcissism, it’s factually impossible to “measure” the amounts of narcissism in the past and present in order to get a valid comparison of rates throughout the years.
  3. While the traits of narcissism are clearly defined, these qualities overlap with the traits of other Cluster B personality disorders and other mental illnesses. Example: Someone in a manic state (bipolar disorder) can, in certain circumstances, present as a narcissistic person. And this is assuming said bipolar person doesn’t have any existing comorbidities.
  4. The average person, even after reading narcissistic traits or watching Sam Vaknin/Richard Grannon videos, aren’t able to recognize a narcissist if they came up and gaslit them. When asked, most people say a narcissist is “Someone who’s in love with themself.” Anyone who thinks like this is misguided and knows nothing about narcissism. This inability to grasp the subject matter (for most people) invalidates the question asked and others like it.

The Reality of Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

It only seems like it’s “on the rise” because more people are aware of it now than at perhaps any other time in history. Much of this is driven by confused people desperately looking for an answer as to why the person they loved/cared about so deeply could have hurt them so badly and then discarded them. The narcissism “level” you think is rising is merely just narcissism that’s more visible thanks to this modern, status-seeking, high ego/low attention span society we live in.

This appearance of “rampant, out-of-control narcissism” is made worse by the vast amount of “subject matter experts” who’ve burst onto the scene. These (mostly) online personalities claim to have been victims of a narcissist in their past. (Full disclosure: I count myself in this category as well.) Within this vast group of “helpers and healers,” you’ll likely find:

  1. Some well-meaning adults who try their level best to help people who’ve suffered a similar fate.
  2. Misguided and delusional fools who’d have you believe that everyone who’s the victim of a narcissist is an “empath.” (There’s no such thing.)
  3. And an odd few outright charlatans who are likely narcissists themselves trying to boost their popularity and revenue streams by tapping into the latest craze.

The challenge is finding those in the first group and avoiding the other two groups. This can be exceedingly hard if you’re someone who labors under a delusion as to what narcissism truly is. It’s even worse if you run around believing you’re an “empath.”

Here’s what many of the “experts” probably won’t tell you:

  1. As ugly and malignant as it can be, some amount of narcissism is necessary for our survival.
  2. It’s completely possible to have unhealthy levels of narcissism without having narcissistic personality disorder.
  3. “Empaths” don’t attract narcissists but low-level (usually covert) narcissists do. These poor souls have enough problems of their own and they make things worse by inviting a malignant narcissist into their lives.
  4. The best way to heal from narcissistic abuse and prevent if from happening to you again is to recognize your OWN narcissistic traits and do some much-needed shadow work.
  5. Self-awareness is your most potent amulet against narcissism, both internal and external.

The So-Called Experts Avoid Point No. 4 Like the Plague

Want to know why? Because to share this ugly truth would likely mean losing your fan base and all the revenue they bring to some smooth-talking snake oil salesperson who’ll convince these people that they’re the unwitting victim of an evil narcissist. In other words, an expert who’ll convince them they’re all empaths. Hope this helps!

About Indie Author John P. Ribner

Born in Flint, Michigan. Raised by narcissists. Victim of a drive-by shooting. Writer. Singer/songwriter. Punk rock enthusiast. Martial artist. Social critic. Iconoclast. Author of Wasted Youth: The Narcissism Recovery of a Punk Rock Kid from Flint.”