Pop Psychology Concepts that need Correction

pop psychology

Social media and the internet can be super helpful resources when it comes to building awareness, destigmatizing and educating about mental health. AND, of course, there can be a lot of misinformation because literally anyone can say anything on the internet. So let’s take a second to correct a few things that have gotten distorted.

Everyone you have a difficult relationship with is not a narcissist 

Only about 2% of the population can be clinically diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. People can have narcissistic traits, but that is not a personality disorder. Those narcissistic traits usually come from a trauma background; they are survival strategies or those traits were simply modeled to them. 

“Narcissism is a personality trait many live with and only becomes evident occasionally. Narcissistic personality disorder is a formal mental health condition with persistent symptoms that significantly impact the quality of life.”

(Lebow, Hilary. “Narcissism vs. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Telling Them Apart.” Psych Central. September 13, 2022.


Calling everyone you struggle with a narcissist is writing people off. When you can see the nuance, take responsibility for your part in the dynamic, then there’s a possibility to create more favorable conditions in the relationship that allow for a better version of you and the other person to show up.


Disagreement, lying or conflict do not mean someone is gaslighting you.

Because gaslighting has become such a buzz word lately, people throw it around any time someone expresses a conflicting point of view. But gaslighting is actually much more than that, it involves a high level of manipulation.

“The main difference between gaslighting and disagreement is about power. In disagreement, the focus is on challenged viewpoints or hurt feelings. In gaslighting, the main goal is to take control over the other person by undermining their sense of self and making them question their sanity.” 

(Kreze, Ashley. “Gaslighting vs Disagreement – Understanding Emotional Manipulation.” Real Life Counseling. December 26, 2022. https://www.reallifecounselling.com/gaslighting-dispute/#:~:text=The%20main%20difference%20between%20gaslighting,making%20them%20question%20their%20sanity.)

Sometimes a person may use invalidating statements to you like “just let it go” or “you shouldn’t worry about that”; and that can be hurtful because it makes you feel like your feelings are just being dismissed.  This can also be confused with gaslighting, but it’s very different.  You can learn more about the difference between gaslighting and invalidating in one of our previous posts HERE.  It’s good to know the difference so you don’t throw the term around lightly and accuse someone of the very serious manipulation tactic that gaslighting is.  

We all have different opinions and perspectives and sometimes they match up with others and sometimes they don’t…and that’s okay.  It’s not wrong to disagree with someone, and as long as you express your disagreement in a respectful way, more than likely, both people can move forward and get past it. 


Confiding in a friend is not trauma dumping

One of the perks that comes along with having a friend you can trust is that you have someone you can confide in.  Sometimes you just want to vent and sometimes you need advice and support.  It’s a helpful way to cope with stressful events because you can get pent up feelings out into the open in a safe space.  

Trauma dumping involves sharing traumatic experiences with someone without warning and without regard to how it will impact the other person.  It’s usually at inappropriate places or at inappropriate times and it’s one sided, there isn’t an exchange of thoughts or feedback.

“In short, trauma dumping goes beyond sharing what’s on your mind—it’s a constant focus on past trauma that can hinder healing and harm mental health and relationships” 

(“What Even Is Trauma Dumping?” Charlie Health. October 24, 2023. https://www.charliehealth.com/post/what-is-trauma-dumping)

Confiding in a friend is done with the intention of receiving support from someone you trust and not causing undue stress on the other person.  Therefore, it is very different from trauma dumping.

If you feel like you may be prone to trauma dumping, check out this previous post where we go through 3 signs of emotional dumping and what to do instead, so that you can get the support you need.


We love that more people are becoming aware of mental health issues and relationship dynamics, but please do not use the internet as a substitute for actual healing or work on yourself. That’s the same thing as going to Dr. Google to find out what that itch on your head is, and then 20 minutes later being scared out of your mind and convinced that it’s cancer. Yes, it’s good to research things, learn, and build your awareness, but work with a professional to actually apply these things to your life.

If you are having relationship difficulties and you are searching social media for answers, save yourself the time and energy and reach out to us. We can support you in getting on track to have healthier, more supportive relationships.




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