A new article in Psychology Today makes some sweeping assumptions about individuals with narcissistic tendencies. Penned by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., currently a professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the article makes some scathing generalizations, suggesting that we stereotype, stigmatize, and write-off anyone with narcissistic tendencies:
“We know that in real life, narcissists can be exploitative, become enraged when challenged, and — relevant to the job interview findings — likely to shirk job duties. So, although interviewers become snowed into thinking they’ve hired the best person for the job, they’ve potentially hired the worst possible candidate. Narcissists talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.”
The article then moves into fear-mongering, assuming that no one could possibly want to engage with such a person, ever:
“When things start to unravel, they blame everyone else, including you…Don’t hire the person, don’t throw away your other romantic prospects, and don’t invite the person into the circle of your family or friends. Time, and second thoughts, are your best friends when you’re dealing with narcissists.”
For a publication that maintains one of the largest and easily searchable therapist directories, presumably for the purpose of providing resources for those in distress, I was surprised by the article’s aggression and denigration toward a group of people with a common set of symptoms. Yes, those who interact with people who have narcissistic tendencies often have great difficulty and feel maligned and manipulated, but any reasonable therapeutic practitioner would also point out that those with narcissistic tendencies have learned to interact with the world this way often out of desperation. Many have experienced long-lasting trauma or neglect and developed this way of interaction in order to survive. Without the capacity to look beyond the narcissistic tendencies and see a whole (often deeply wounded) person, it is easy to write them off as evil manipulators. But my experience has been that it is no more pleasant to interact with someone with these tendencies than it is to be that person.
The article has been published and read across the internet. The damage has been done. We can only hope that Psychology Today might someday look closely at its own role in encouraging stigmatization of mental health issues.
Read More: “Don’t Be Fooled by a Narcissist”