Narcissism Glossary:Key Terms and Concepts Explained

Narcissism Glossary

Welcome to the Narcissism Glossary, a comprehensive guide to the terminology and concepts associated with Narcissism, narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse. Narcissism is a personality disorder that is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a desire for admiration and attention from others. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder often exhibit manipulative and exploitative behavior, and may cause emotional and psychological harm to those around them.

This glossary aims to provide a clear and concise definition of the key terms and concepts associated with narcissism and narcissistic abuse. From gaslighting and love-bombing to hoovering and triangulation, this glossary covers the most common tactics and behaviors associated with narcissistic personality disorder.

Whether you are a mental health professional, a victim of narcissistic abuse, or simply interested in understanding more about this complex personality disorder, this glossary is an essential resource. We hope that this glossary provides clarity and insight into the world of narcissism and narcissistic abuse.

Narcissism Glossary- A

  1. Abusive Cycle: A pattern of behavior in which a narcissist alternates between being abusive and being loving or apologetic.
  2. Alienation: The deliberate act of a narcissist to isolate their victim from their support system, such as family and friends.
  3. Antisocial Personality Disorder: A personality disorder characterized by a disregard for others’ rights and a lack of empathy or remorse, which can co-occur with narcissistic personality disorder.
  4. Apology Fraud: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists where they give a fake or insincere apology to avoid consequences or maintain control.
  5. Attachment Trauma: Emotional and psychological trauma resulting from the lack of secure attachment to a caregiver during childhood, which can increase the risk of developing narcissistic personality disorder.
  6. Avoidant Personality Disorder: A personality disorder characterized by social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of criticism or rejection, which can co-occur with narcissistic personality disorder.
  7. Abandonment: A common fear of narcissists that can manifest as clinginess or controlling behavior in relationships.
  8. Affective Empathy: The ability to feel and share another person’s emotions, which is often lacking in individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.
  9. Aggression: The use of physical or verbal force to intimidate, harm, or control others, which can be a characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder.
  10. Admiration and Approval: The intense need for attention, admiration, and validation from others, which is a core trait of narcissistic personality disorder.

Letter B

  1. Blame-Shifting: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to avoid taking responsibility for their actions by shifting the blame onto someone else.
  2. Black and White Thinking: A cognitive distortion common in narcissistic individuals where they see things in extremes, with no gray areas or nuance.
  3. Boundary Violation: A behavior by a narcissist where they disrespect or disregard someone’s personal boundaries or limits.
  4. Body Shaming: A form of verbal abuse where a narcissist criticizes someone’s physical appearance or body shape.
  5. Brainwashing: A form of psychological manipulation where a narcissist systematically alters someone’s beliefs, values, and behaviors.
  6. Bystander Effect: A phenomenon where individuals are less likely to help someone in distress when others are present, which can enable narcissistic abuse.
  7. Belittling: A form of emotional abuse where a narcissist diminishes someone’s self-worth or confidence through criticism or insults.
  8. Backhanded Compliment: A manipulation tactic used by a narcissist to insult or criticize someone under the guise of a compliment.
  9. Burnout: A state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that can result from prolonged exposure to narcissistic abuse.
  10. Betrayal Trauma: A form of emotional trauma resulting from the violation of trust by a close partner or family member, which can occur in cases of narcissistic abuse.

Letter C

  1. Control: A central feature of narcissistic personality disorder, where the individual feels the need to dominate and control their environment and those around them.
  2. Covert Narcissism: A type of narcissism where the individual displays more subtle, hidden, or passive-aggressive behaviors.
  3. Cycles of Abuse: A pattern of behavior in which a narcissist alternates between periods of loving or idealizing their victim, and periods of devaluing or abusing them.
  4. Cognitive Dissonance: The mental discomfort or conflict that arises when someone’s beliefs or values are inconsistent with their behaviors, often experienced by victims of narcissistic abuse.

Letter D

  1. Devaluation: A phase in the narcissistic abuse cycle where the narcissist begins to criticize, belittle, or ignore their victim, often leading to feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.
  2. Discard: The final phase in the narcissistic abuse cycle where the narcissist ends the relationship, often abruptly and without explanation, leaving the victim confused and devastated.
  3. Denial: A defense mechanism commonly used by narcissists to avoid acknowledging their own flaws or mistakes.
  4. Dual Personality: A term used to describe the two-faced nature of some narcissists, where they present different personas to different people or in different situations.
  5. Distortion: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to twist or distort information or events to suit their own narrative or to gain an advantage over others.
  6. Dependency: A trait common in some narcissists where they rely heavily on others for emotional validation and support.
  7. Diversionary Tactics: A set of tactics used by narcissists to deflect attention away from their own wrongdoing or to shift the blame onto others.
  8. Dominance: The desire to control or dominate others, a trait often seen in narcissistic personality disorder.

Letter E

  1. Entitlement: A sense of entitlement or belief that one is deserving of special treatment or privileges, a trait common in narcissistic personality disorder.
  2. Emotional Blackmail: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to threaten or coerce others into doing what they want by using guilt, fear, or other negative emotions.
  3. Enmeshment: A dysfunctional pattern of behavior where a narcissistic parent or partner attempts to merge or control the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of their victim.
  4. Exploitation: A behavior common in narcissistic personality disorder where the individual takes advantage of others for their own gain, often without regard for their well-being or feelings.
  5. Echoism: A personality trait characterized by a lack of assertiveness, low self-esteem, and a tendency to put others’ needs before one’s own, often seen in individuals who have been victims of narcissistic abuse.
  6. External Validation: A need for validation and approval from external sources, often a sign of low self-esteem and a common trait in some narcissists.
  7. Empathy Deficit: A trait common in narcissistic personality disorder where the individual lacks empathy or the ability to understand or care about others’ feelings or experiences.
  8. Ego: The sense of self or identity, a concept often central to narcissistic personality disorder.

Letter F

  1. Flying Monkeys: A term used to describe individuals who enable or support a narcissist’s behavior, often used by narcissists to manipulate others against their victim.
  2. False Self: A persona or facade that a narcissist presents to the world, often used to hide their true self or to gain admiration and attention from others.
  3. Future Faking: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to make promises or plans for the future to keep their victim hooked, often without any intention of following through.
  4. Fractured Identity: A term used to describe the fragmented or inconsistent sense of self often seen in individuals who have been victims of narcissistic abuse.
  5. Flattery: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to gain favor or admiration from others, often by complimenting or flattering them excessively.
  6. Fearmongering: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to instill fear or anxiety in their victim to gain control or power over them.
  7. Fixation: An intense and obsessive preoccupation with a person, object, or idea, often seen in some individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.
  8. Fetishization: An obsession or excessive admiration for a specific attribute or trait, often seen in some individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.

Letter G

  1. Gaslighting: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to make their victim question their own reality, memory, or perception of events.
  2. Grandiosity: A sense of superiority or greatness, often seen in individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.
  3. Golden Child: A term used to describe the favored child of a narcissistic parent, often used to triangulate or create competition between siblings.
  4. Grey Rock Method: A technique used by victims of narcissistic abuse to become uninteresting or unresponsive to the narcissist, often used to decrease their power and control over them.
  5. Ghosting: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to abruptly end a relationship or communication with their victim, often without explanation or warning.
  6. Grooming: A process used by predators, including some narcissists, to build trust and emotional connection with their victim to gain access to them for abuse or exploitation.
  7. Gaping Wound: A metaphorical term used to describe the emotional pain and trauma caused by narcissistic abuse, often used to highlight the long-lasting effects of the abuse on the victim.
  8. Grudges: A trait common in some narcissists, where they hold onto resentments or grudges for a long time, often using them as a weapon to punish or control their victim.

Letter H

  1. Hoovering: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to “suck” their victim back into a relationship or communication, often after a period of no contact or separation.
  2. High-Conflict Personality: A term used to describe individuals who have a pattern of engaging in conflict or drama, often seen in some individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.
  3. Hubris: Excessive pride or arrogance, often seen in individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.
  4. Histrionic Personality Disorder: A personality disorder characterized by excessive emotionality, attention-seeking behavior, and an exaggerated need for approval and attention, which may co-occur with narcissistic personality disorder.
  5. Hypersensitivity: A trait common in some narcissists, where they are overly sensitive to criticism or perceived slights, often responding with defensiveness or aggression.
  6. Hostile Attribution Bias: A cognitive bias common in some narcissists, where they interpret ambiguous social cues or actions from others as hostile or threatening, often leading to aggressive or defensive behavior.
  7. Help-Seeking Behavior: A term used to describe the behavior of individuals who seek help or support to address their narcissistic tendencies or personality disorder, often a critical step towards healing and recovery.
  8. Heartlessness: A trait common in some narcissists, where they lack empathy or concern for the feelings and wellbeing of others, often using and discarding them without remorse or guilt.

Letter I

  1. Idealization: A phase in the narcissistic cycle where the narcissist puts their victim on a pedestal, showering them with attention, affection, and praise to gain their trust and admiration.
  2. Identity Diffusion: A term used to describe a lack of stable identity or sense of self, often seen in individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.
  3. Invalidation: A tactic used by narcissists to dismiss, undermine, or negate the feelings, thoughts, or experiences of their victim, often causing them to doubt their own reality or worth.
  4. Impulsivity: A trait common in some narcissists, where they act without thinking, often engaging in risky or reckless behavior, and disregarding the consequences.
  5. Intermittent Reinforcement: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to intermittently reward or punish their victim’s behavior, often creating a cycle of hope and despair, and keeping them invested in the relationship.
  6. Intrusiveness: A behavior common in some narcissists, where they invade their victim’s personal space, boundaries, or privacy, often to gain control or intimidate them.
  7. Insecure Attachment: A term used to describe a pattern of insecure attachment to others, often seen in individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, who may struggle with trust, emotional intimacy, and vulnerability.
  8. Insight: A term used to describe the ability of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder to gain self-awareness, recognize their behavior as problematic, and seek help or treatment for their condition.

Letter J

  1. Jealousy: A common trait in some narcissists, where they are possessive and competitive in relationships, often feeling threatened by their partner’s success, attention, or affection towards others.
  2. Jekyll and Hyde Personality: A term used to describe the two-faced, unpredictable behavior of some narcissists, who can switch between charming and loving to cruel and abusive in an instant.
  3. Judgmental Attitude: A trait common in some narcissists, where they are critical and dismissive of others’ opinions, behaviors, or choices, often feeling superior or entitled to judge them.
  4. Joylessness: A trait common in some narcissists, where they lack the ability to experience joy, pleasure, or genuine emotions, often masking their inner emptiness with grandiosity or manipulation.
  5. Justification: A tactic used by narcissists to rationalize, excuse, or justify their abusive behavior towards others, often blaming their victims or external circumstances for their actions.

Letter K

  1. Karpman Drama Triangle: A model used to describe the roles of victim, rescuer, and perpetrator in dysfunctional relationships, often seen in cases of narcissistic abuse.
  2. Keep Them Guessing: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to keep their victim off-balance, uncertain, and dependent on them for validation or approval.
  3. Know-It-All Attitude: A trait common in some narcissists, where they believe they have superior knowledge or intelligence, and disregard or dismiss the opinions or expertise of others.
  4. Kowtow: A behavior common in some victims of narcissistic abuse, where they submit, comply, or appease the narcissist’s demands or expectations, often out of fear or obligation.

Letter L

  1. Lack of Empathy: A trait common in narcissists, where they are unable or unwilling to understand, validate, or relate to the emotions or perspectives of others.
  2. Love-Bombing: A manipulation tactic used by narcissists to overwhelm their victim with affection, attention, and gifts in the early stages of a relationship, often to gain trust, control, or admiration.
  3. Lying: A common behavior in some narcissists, where they fabricate, exaggerate, or distort the truth to manipulate, deceive, or protect their ego.
  4. Loss of Self: A common experience in some victims of narcissistic abuse, where they lose their sense of identity, autonomy, and self-worth due to the constant invalidation, criticism, or control by the narcissist.

Letter M

  1. Manipulation: A tactic used by narcissists to control, influence, or deceive others for their own benefit, often using charm, guilt, fear, or intimidation.
  2. Martyrdom: A behavior common in some victims of narcissistic abuse, where they sacrifice their own needs, desires, or boundaries to please or appease the narcissist, often believing they are doing it out of love or loyalty.
  3. Masking: A behavior common in some narcissists, where they hide or suppress their true emotions, vulnerabilities, or flaws behind a fa├žade of grandiosity, charm, or perfectionism.
  4. Mirroring: A tactic used by some narcissists to create a false sense of intimacy or similarity with their victim, often by mimicking their behaviors, interests, or values.
  5. Malignant Narcissism: A severe form of narcissism that combines traits of narcissistic personality disorder with antisocial, sadistic, or paranoid traits, often resulting in extreme cruelty, manipulation, or violence towards others.

Letter N

  1. Narcissism: Narcissism is a personality trait that refers to a person’s tendency to have an inflated sense of self-importance, entitlement, and grandiosity. Narcissism can manifest in a range of behaviors, such as seeking attention and admiration, lacking empathy for others, and having a sense of superiority over others.
  2. Narcissistic Abuse: A form of emotional, psychological, or physical abuse inflicted by a person with narcissistic traits or narcissistic personality disorder, often involving manipulation, gaslighting, and invalidation of the victim’s emotions and experiences.
  3. Narcissistic Injury: A perceived threat or criticism to the narcissist’s self-esteem, ego, or sense of superiority, often resulting in anger, defensiveness, or revenge-seeking behavior.
  4. Narcissistic Supply: Attention, admiration, validation, or other forms of emotional energy that a narcissist craves and demands from others to maintain their sense of grandiosity and superiority.
  5. Narcissistic Triangulation: A tactic used by narcissists to create conflict, jealousy, or competition between two or more people in order to maintain their control or attention.
  6. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD): Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), on the other hand, is a mental health condition that falls under the category of personality disorders in the DSM-5. NPD is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy for others, that begins in early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts. People with NPD often have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, believe they are special and entitled to special treatment, and have a sense of entitlement and lack of empathy for others.

Letter O

  1. Objectification: Treating a person as an object or possession rather than an individual with their own thoughts, feelings, and autonomy.
  2. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD): A personality disorder characterized by excessive preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control, often at the expense of interpersonal relationships and flexibility.
  3. Overvaluation: An exaggerated or idealized perception of someone’s abilities, qualities, or worth, often displayed by individuals with narcissistic traits or personality disorder. Overvaluation can lead to unrealistic expectations, entitlement, and disappointment when the person fails to live up to the idealized image.
  4. Othering: A process of distancing oneself from individuals or groups who are perceived as different, inferior, or threatening, often used by narcissists to assert their superiority and justify their mistreatment of others. Othering can take many forms, such as dehumanization, stereotyping, or exclusion.

Letter P

  1. Projection: A defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously attributes their own unwanted or unacceptable thoughts, feelings, or behaviors onto another person, often used by narcissists to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions or to manipulate others.
  2. Pathological lying: A pattern of compulsive or frequent lying, often with no apparent reason or benefit, that may be characteristic of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder or other personality disorders.
  3. Perfectionism: A tendency to set unrealistically high standards for oneself or others and to be overly critical of mistakes or imperfections, often associated with narcissistic traits or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
  4. Preoccupation with appearance: A focus on physical appearance and grooming, often to the point of obsession or compulsive behavior, that may be characteristic of individuals with narcissistic traits or body dysmorphic disorder.
  5. Parentification: A role reversal in which a child is expected to take on the emotional or practical responsibilities of a parent, often used by narcissistic parents to meet their own needs or avoid responsibility.
  6. Provocation: Intentionally inciting or provoking a person’s anger or frustration, often used by narcissists to gain control or power over others or to elicit an emotional response.

Letter Q

  1. Quasi-independence: A false sense of independence or self-sufficiency that narcissistic individuals may project to others, often used to mask their dependency on others for validation, admiration, or attention. Quasi-independence can also refer to a superficial or incomplete sense of autonomy, in which the person is unable to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships or emotional connections.

Letter R

  1. Reactive abuse: A behavior in which a victim of narcissistic abuse reacts to the abuse in a way that may be seen as aggressive or defensive, often used by the narcissist to justify their own abusive behavior or to discredit the victim.
  2. Resentment: A feeling of anger, bitterness, or indignation toward someone, often resulting from perceived injustice or mistreatment, that may be common in victims of narcissistic abuse who feel trapped or helpless.
  3. Rage: An intense, explosive outburst of anger or aggression, often triggered by a perceived threat to the narcissist’s sense of superiority, control, or entitlement.
  4. Reframing: A cognitive technique in which a person consciously or unconsciously changes the meaning or interpretation of a situation or experience, often used by narcissists to manipulate or gaslight others.
  5. Ruminating: A pattern of obsessive, repetitive thinking or worrying, often related to past traumas, regrets, or negative experiences, that may be common in victims of narcissistic abuse who struggle with self-doubt, guilt, or shame.

Letter S

  1. Splitting: A defense mechanism in which a person sees things as all good or all bad, often used by narcissists to devalue and discard others who fail to meet their expectations or serve their needs.
  2. Silent treatment: A form of emotional abuse in which the narcissist withdraws from communication or interaction with the victim as a means of punishment, control, or manipulation.
  3. Scapegoat: A person who is unfairly blamed or targeted for the narcissist’s problems or failures, often used as a means of deflecting responsibility or avoiding accountability.
  4. Smear campaign: A coordinated effort by the narcissist to spread false or negative information about a person, often used to discredit, isolate, or control them.
  5. Self-objectification: A process in which a person views themselves as an object or commodity to be evaluated, used, or admired by others, often a feature of narcissistic personality disorder.

Letter T

  1. Triangulation: A tactic used by narcissists to create conflict and control between two other people by playing them against each other or by forming alliances with one against the other.
  2. Trauma bonding: A form of emotional attachment that can develop between a victim and a narcissist due to intense emotional experiences, often involving abuse, that can create a sense of dependence, loyalty, or even love.

Letter W

  1. Witch hunt: A term used by narcissists to describe any attempt by others to hold them accountable for their behavior or to expose their wrongdoing, often with the goal of discrediting or undermining the credibility of those who speak out against them.
  2. Wounding: A term used to describe the emotional impact of narcissistic abuse on the victim, which can cause deep-seated emotional pain, feelings of worthlessness, and a loss of one’s sense of self.
  3. Walking on eggshells: A phrase used to describe the feeling of living in constant fear or anxiety around a narcissistic person, often due to the unpredictability of their behavior or reactions.
  4. Withholding: A tactic used by narcissists to punish or control others by denying them something they want or need, such as attention, affection, or information.
  5. Winning at all costs: A mindset held by many narcissists, in which they see life as a competition in which they must come out on top, even if it means hurting or manipulating others in the process.

Letter X

  1. Xenophobia: A term that describes a fear or dislike of people from other cultures or foreign countries. While not directly related to narcissism or narcissistic abuse, some experts suggest that narcissists may exhibit xenophobic behavior as a way of asserting their own superiority over others.

Letter Y

  1. Yellow flag: A term used to describe warning signs or behaviors in a relationship that suggest the presence of narcissistic abuse or manipulation.
  2. Yielding: A term used to describe the submissive behavior often displayed by victims of narcissistic abuse, who may feel compelled to give in to the demands of the narcissist to avoid conflict or further abuse.
  3. Yoyo effect: A term used to describe the pattern of abuse and apology that is common in narcissistic relationships, in which the abuser cycles between being cruel and being kind in order to keep the victim off balance and dependent on them.

Letter Z

Zero empathy: A term used to describe the lack of empathy or compassion exhibited by narcissists towards others. Narcissists may be unable or unwilling to understand the feelings or perspectives of others, and may view others solely in terms of their own needs and desires.

Last Words

In conclusion, understanding the terms and concepts related to narcissism and narcissistic abuse is essential for recognizing and healing from these destructive patterns. This Narcissism glossary is by no means exhaustive, but it provides an overview of some of the key terms and concepts that can help individuals identify and address narcissistic behaviors and relationships.

By learning these terms, individuals can gain a greater understanding of their own experiences and relationships, and can seek out the resources and support they need to break free from the cycle of abuse and reclaim their sense of self.

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