We need to be careful about labeling someone as having NPD until we have gotten to know them well enough to be sure, or if we’re labeling ourselves, it’s best to wait until a therapist can confirm our suspicions (even though we’re probably right).
I think ACONs and other victims of abuse are sometimes quick to label people narcissists who may actually have some other disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD or OCPD (some people with these disorders can seem very cold or unempathic), Schizoid Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder (covert narcissism is often confused with this), or even Aspergers (Aspies are often accused of being unempathic just because they don’t express their emotions very well). Some conditions are easily confused with NPD because some of the behaviors or attitudes they show may be similar.
Narcissists are actually a small minority of the population (estimates about 1-4%, but it may be much higher since most people with NPD never present for therapy or diagnosis). Also, the times we live in and a society that rewards narcissistic behavior have probably made NPD more common than it used to be.
Whenever we do pin the N label on someone (including ourselves), it’s our own subjective opinion. In most cases, the person in question probably does have NPD (we are all adults here and it isn’t that hard to see the red flags), but remember it’s an informal diagnosis, not a bona fide diagnosis made by a mental health professional.
Remember to use care, because these are dangerous labels with a terrible stigma, and can be more damaging than helpful if the label isn’t accurate.