What do these terms mean?

By: Elizabeth Clements

What do these terms mean? 

Almost everyone engages with some form of social media. Often creators use psychological terms or constructs to help others understand their experiences or provide insight for people who might have similar experiences. The following defines a couple of commonly used terms and constructs that have a psychological foundation.  

One term that seems to be a hot topic is narcissism. The American Psychological Association defines narcissism as excessive love of the self or being egocentric. The key word in this definition is excessive; people who have high self-esteem are not necessarily narcissistic. People who are narcissistic intentionally take advantage of others, do not have the capacity to feel empathy, and feel that they are entitled to advantages even if they have done nothing to assist themselves. A narcissistic person truly believes that they are the very best and will act as if they are highly important in any situation. For example, you received a promotion at work and a pay increase. You are excited and you share this information with a friend. Instead of being excited for you, your friend responds like this, “My supervisor told me that I am the best project manager he has ever had the pleasure of working with. In fact, the company is moving me to Fiji and raising my salary to two million dollars a year.” In this example the friend cannot empathize or comment on your achievements and must make himself more important than you. Although this is a small example of a conversation with a person who has narcissistic tendencies, you can see how they tend to dominate situations, making themselves the most important component.   

Another term that has gained interest is gaslighting. Gaslighting refers to a form of psychological control and manipulation where a person intentionally gives others false information to distort their sense of reality. Victims of gaslighting begin to second guess their memory of a conversation or event, they might begin to lose site of their identity and see a decline in their self-worth. If a person suspects they are a victim of gaslighting, here are a few ways to disengage from the relationship. When a manipulative person begins to realize that their target is making moves to leave the situation, the gaslighting person will try to reassure their target. The person gaslighting will begin to offer praise or positivity, they may even commit to change. It is important for the victim to remain strong and remember this is another tactic to make you stay. The gaslighting person will also prey on the victim’s lowered self-worth. As the victim begins to gain courage to leave the relationship, they are often met with reminders from the person gaslighting that they are not able to have a life without them. Again, this is another tactic to make you feel like you are unable to support yourself.  

The most important thing to remember when dealing with people who have narcissistic tendencies or use gaslighting is that you are in control of your thoughts and actions. If the person or situation does not feel right, it probably isn’t. If you or someone you know might benefit from speaking with a professional, please reach out to Samaritan Counseling, Michigan City Indiana (219.879.3283).