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“That person is so narcissistic!”: When mental health buzzwords become a trend

One of the struggles the mental health field has struggled with was accessibility to those who need services. With social media, millions of people can access 2+ years of graduate work in 60 seconds without, sometimes, having to see a professional. In a way, this has created a watered-down effect on mental health because we hear things like this:

“I am so OCD!”

“They were completely love-bombing me.”

“I have heard of this before, and it sounds like your friend is gaslighting you!”

You might be wondering what is the issue with these statements: symptoms of diagnoses or diagnoses are not used as adjectives to describe someone. What happens when this continues to happen? Everyone is describing a person or situation (sometimes out of context) who has not been assessed by a professional. This is also not helpful for people and it dilutes the system professionals have created to help make sense of situations.

So, what is another way to describe a behavior without using the DSM or repeating what you may have heard on the socials?

  1. If someone were to ask you, “what do you mean by that?” That is the word. 

  2. “I am so OCD!” What do you mean by this?

  3. “Well, I just like to be organized.” Say that!

  4. Identify what you feel during a specific situation.

  5. “They were completely love-bombing me.” What were you feeling here?

  6. “It felt odd to hear someone compliment me at every given moment. It almost did not feel genuine.” Okay! This is making sense!

  7. Avoid labeling things out of context when hearing someone’s experience.

  8. “I have heard of this before, and it sounds like your friend is gaslighting you.”

  9. “I am not sure, but it sounds like your friend’s comment was deceptive.”

Hopefully, you can see the difference here. When words are taken out of context, it portrays a completely different meaning and reality. My challenge to you is to challenge how we describe experiences, people, and situations. Mental health providers make every effort to avoid misdiagnosing clients so let us make every effort to avoid mislabeling another person, experience, or situation.

Yemi Lekuti, Ph.D, LPC, CGCS, CGP

I enjoy working with couples and families, addressing issues of faith, identity, and sexuality, parenting (biological, foster, adoptive), life transitions for teens and adults, play therapy for children, dating and marital issues, and social and multicultural concerns. It does not matter where you are in life or what you are dealing with, I am available via telehealth to help you understand your journey, reignite your passion, and support your goals in obtaining a fulfilling life.


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