It’s a cliché within a cliché to point out our collective infatuation with using psychiatric terminology to diagnose our friends and enemies. “I’m a little OCD,” we say after vacuuming the living room rug for the third time in one week. “The weather,” we grouse, “has been so schizophrenic lately.” We often label people as narcissistic who seem to care only for themselves and disregard norms that govern social life.
But what does the diagnosis of narcissism really entail?
Beyond this superficial — in the literal sense — reading of narcissistic people, the contemporary medical understanding of someone with narcissistic personality disorder is a multidimensional appreciation of the narcissist’s indiscriminate social aggression. The current psychiatric framework defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder — so it is a “personality” disorder, as opposed to what are called “affective” disorders.