Is It Name Calling to Call Someone a Narcissist?

Have you ever had someone accuse you of name calling because you identify your family member as a narcissist? Most of us didn’t go looking for a label to call our parents. Some people just don’t get it because they’ve never had to live through the abuse that comes with narcissism. They might even be apathetic.*

For many of us, it was a relief to discover the term narcissism to describe our parents’ lack of empathy. Even though we use the term narcissist like a noun, the word narcissist is not as much a label for someone’s identity, as it’s a category to describe behaviors we have experienced. We wish it weren’t so, but the proof is in the behavior. If it walks and talks like a narc, it probably is a narc.

Calling someone a narcissist usually occurs because they have become toxic in their behavior toward others. Recognizing these narcissistic behaviors is simply one way to create awareness and protect ourselves. If we fail to recognize the gas-lighting, scapegoating, lying, manipulation and flying monkeys for what it is, we will continue to be abused over and over again.

Little Red Survivor, Valley of the Shadow, Cherilyn Clough
Little Red 23rd, Valley of the Shadow


While narcissism personality disorder should be diagnosed with a professional, most narcissists hate counselors and will usually avoid counseling at all costs, so all we can do is get counseling for ourselves. Once we have gathered the facts from an expert opinion and realize there is no other explanation for such behavior, most Adult Children of Narcissists find it a relief to recognize there is a name for what they have been experiencing.

It’s ironic that the very people who once called us names are the ones who complain because we refer to them as narcs. Many of us have struggled with self-worth for decades due to the names our parents called us.

Consider how the words lazy, ignoramus, chunky, chubby, klutz, idiot, loudmouth, stupid, brat and snot actually harm the child’s psyche that grows up with such labels. Some narc parents never stopped calling their children names. Even in adulthood, they just use more sophisticated names like selfish, irresponsible, inconsiderate, ignorant and loser.

We don’t label our parents narcissists because we wanted to get even with them for calling us names–remember most ACONs** are the empathetic ones in the family and most don’t even want to hurt even an abusive parent. Calling someone a narcissistic is not a gut response or an attempt to get even–it is simply piece of the puzzle to our ruined relationship with the narc parent for years.

Adult Children of Narcissists is the term we use to recognize other people who have been through what we have endured. While it’s a name we call ourselves, it reflects negatively on our parents, but it also gives us a way to find other people suffering from the same issues who can provide us with support. Avoiding such labels would only isolate the survivors. Most ACONS have lived lives of secrets and isolation due to the control of narc parents, so it’s time to step out into the light.

For some people the only way to healing is to name it and claim it. Calling someone a narcissist is not name calling, it’s simply recognizing a chain of symptoms that can only be described as narcissism. There is no shame in calling a rose a rose. Just as Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” a narc by any other name would stink the same.

* Check out the Empathy Trap Book to learn more about the empathetic, apathetic and narcissistic triad.
**Adult Children of Narcissists

4 thoughts on “Is It Name Calling to Call Someone a Narcissist?”

  1. I really appreciate this blog! I like how you address narcissism from a Christian faith-based perspective. Do you think it is always right to tell a Nparent that s/he is a narcissist? More than likely, the individual will deny, project, and lie in order to protect his/her ego. Is it even worth it to put yourself through the frustration and anguish?


  2. Thank you for commenting.

    No, I personally do not think we should call our parents narcs to their faces. For one thing they will be in denial or highly offended and why strike up a fight that will probably end in more hurt feelings on all sides. So I am NOT advocating going over to your parent’s house to call them a narcissist.

    There is a reason we call ourselves Adult Children of Narcissists and it’s important to know the symptoms of narcissism so we can keep from being burned further. Sometimes the only way to claim our healing is to name it.


  3. I really remember how uncomfortable I initially was to apply that label to my parents. But down the road, it becomes no more of a label than describing water as wet. And like you say, we don’t use the word to them in conversation, or as an insult, it’s a thinking and clarification tool. I remember writing a comment early on and saying, “Can’t we use an acronym instead, like we do for ACONs, it would feel more comfortable.”

    It’s so crazy… they name called me all my life, and *I* was worried about name-calling *them*. As a child, stupid cow, lazy, brat, arsehole, selfish, troublemaker, unhelpful, argumentative, opinionated, oversensitive, ungrateful were the common ones I lived with. (Ironically, I was a straight A student who didn’t party and wanted to be helpful. Although obviously, my early experience of “love” in the home gave me some long-term emotional issues which have been a long road to sort out.)

    Hmmm yes, a heck of a start to life. At the time I knew nothing else. Now the further away I get from it and the more I see “little people” the more monstrous that looks to me. And let’s call a striped horse a zebra after all. Thanks for your insights, sister.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Andrea,

    Yes, we ACoNs are much more thoughtful of the narcs than they have ever been of us. Ironic isn’t it?

    And it is a common thing for the child who tried to please to be used more than the others by the narc. We were the easy targets.

    Big hugs! May you have a wonderful journey as clarity sinks in more and more. Blessed healing to you!



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