The Narcissist Underestimates You

The Narcissist Underestimates You


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Let me tell you something. This may or may not surprise you, but I absolutely LOVE it when people underestimate me. I know it seems counterintuitive – and I didn’t always feel this way. For a lot of my life, I felt offended and upset by people who chronically underestimated me. But one day, I recognized a powerful fact: if someone underestimates you, it actually offers you a rather significant advantage. If they think you’re not capable of something and you do it anyway, there is far less resistance involved, if that makes sense. And, if you’re anything like me, you might even take a bit of pleasure (not to mention some much-needed motivation) in proving them wrong.

With that being said, you and I both know that probably the most likely person in your life to underestimate you is the narcissist in your life. In fact, if you ask me, their consistent need to underestimate us is one of their biggest weaknesses. Not only does underestimating us leave them vulnerable in certain ways, but it also gives them a certain amount of overconfidence in themselves.

For example, the narcissist might assume you’re less intelligent than they are, and this assumption might lead to them making obvious attempts to deceive you. If you’re smart, you’ll play along and see the truth without their knowledge. Is this wrong?

Could it be unethical to allow them to underestimate you and not tell them you see right through them? While some people will disagree with me, I’d say absolutely not – and here’s why.

Why Narcissists Underestimate You

Narcissists underestimate you for many reasons – the most frustrating being that they don’t truly see you for who and what you are. Seriously. So let’s talk about that.

The one thing to always remember when it comes to a narcissist is that they are only looking out for one thing from you – what you can do for them, or the narcissistic supply that you can offer.

When you’re in a relationship of any type with a narcissist, you become a source of narcissistic supply. Whether they are a partner or spouse, a family member, friend, or coworker, narcissists aren’t capable of really, genuinely caring about you and who you are. They are not able to form healthy bonds with you, in part because they completely lack true empathy. This leads them to see you as a target or an object instead of a whole person. At best, they’ll see you as an extension of themselves.

As such, they see you as “less of a person” than they see themselves and they believe that they can treat any way that they want. That means they can cheat on you, lie to you, gaslight you, manipulate and abuse you in any way or form – without remorse. They don’t feel bad about it and they never admit to what they’re doing unless it somehow benefits them to do so. And, if you’re ever lucky enough to get an apology from a narcissist, you’ve got to know that they have some ulterior motive. They want something from you or they’re doing it to get a certain result – not because they’re actually sorry.

So, in other words, narcissists are likely to underestimate you because they, themselves are limited people. It’s almost ironic when you think about how narcissists project their own limitations on to you. They are notoriously over-confident (on the outside, anyway) and are known to overestimate their own intelligence and abilities in general. However, deep down, some part of them secretly doubts who they claim to be – and often, this is an accurate doubt as that same deep down part of them knows they’re putting on a show. They will assume the same about you and everyone else. And let’s not forget the whole “black and white thinking” thing that narcissists have going on. Since there are no “gray areas” for a narcissist, they assume that your reaction (or lack thereof) to their little games, not to mention their blatant gaslighting and other forms of manipulation, must mean you have your own limitations. And of course, you do – we all have limitations. But they underestimate you by overestimating your limitations. This is exacerbated because the narcissist sees you as less than them and see themselves as better than you.

How Narcissists Underestimate You

Narcissists Underestimate Your Intelligence

This is probably the most common way narcissists underestimate you. They think they can pull the wool over your eyes and that you’ll believe whatever they say or pretend because you’re not smart enough to see through it. Contrary to popular belief, though, narcissists aren’t actually likely to end up with someone who is anything less than intelligent. They are so focused on how other people see them that they’re highly likely to choose someone who is intelligent, attractive, and who makes them look good. But after the idealization or love bombing phase ends, the narcissist sort of “forgets” this part. Rather than focusing on the good qualities you have, as they did during idealization, when they get to the devalue phase, they’ll be focused only on what they deem your bad qualities – or what they see as being “wrong with you.”

Narcissists Underestimate Your Strength

Narcissists need to see you as weak, at least once they get past that idealization phase of the relationship. They need to think of you as dependent and incapable of surviving without them in some way. This is, in part, a form of psychological projection, because despite the fact that they may be supporting you in some way (financially, for example), the narcissist needs your supply to feel normal. And if you were to suddenly display your true strength and stop feeding the endless hole that is their ego, the narcissist would kind of lose it! They would, in most cases, quickly scramble for alternate sources of narcissistic supply (if they haven’t already got them in place). Without it the narcissist is weak and feels lost. Here’s the thing, though. You and I both know that being in a relationship of any kind with a narcissist takes more strength than most people know. Don’t let them fool you into thinking you’re anything but powerful.

Narcissists Underestimate Your Ability to See Right Through Them

When you catch a narcissist in a lie, they will automatically assume they can keep up the charade. This is true even when you can provide them with clear-cut evidence of the lie. Even then, the narcissist will dismiss you and the evidence that you provide.

Examples of Narcissists Underestimating People

A good example of this comes from that Shaggy song called “It Wasn’t Me.”

The song tells the story of a guy who goes knocking on his friend’s door looking for advice. The apparent issue he’s struggling with is that his girlfriend caught him in the act with another woman. His so-called friend advises him to deny what happened and say it wasn’t him. When he explains to the friend that she physically saw him in the act, the friend tells him to keep denying the facts. At the end of the song, the guy decides to admit the truth and apologize – which proves that he’s not a narcissist.

But his friend might be one. Because, in my opinion, the advice he’s offering is literally telling him to gaslight the woman – literally to deny that she saw what she saw. This is of course blatant gaslighting.

Another way to look at it? The kid who sneaks into the cookie jar and consumes an unauthorized cookie or two. When they’re confronted by their mother, they deny having eaten the cookies, despite the fact that the evidence is all over their face – literally. Obviously, mom knows what happened, despite their insistence that they didn’t do it.

The same goes for a narcissist who is lying to you. They can get a little sloppy because they are underestimating you. They aren’t thinking about the fact that you know them, and that, if we’re being honest, their mannerisms, body language, lack of eye contact, and so on totally gives them away. Even when they’ve relied on your intuition in the past, they will forget that part, or continue to underestimate you because they’re overestimating themselves.

Your Empathy is Your Super-Power

Whether we like to admit it or not, before we’re fully awake to what the narcissist is, they can be really skilled at manipulating you. This along with your natural human fear of abandonment, combined with the inevitable trauma bond you’ll experience in any toxic or abusive relationship,  leads the narcissist to think they can control you and continue to consume the supply you provide them indefinitely.

But the one thing that they fail to get is that because you have a superpower that they didn’t count on: empathy, emotional and compassionate empathy. While narcissists are capable of cognitive empathy (as in, they can understand on an intellectual level how someone might feel in any given situation), they do not have emotional or compassionate empathy. So while for you, it is automatic to sort of “get” how someone feels, for the narcissist, it is not. They have to stop and think about it – and often, especially when they’re trying to actively lie to you or pull the wool over your eyes in any way, they’re not thinking about how you might feel.

And because they underestimate you, they don’t understand that your ability to read people, your knowledge of them personally, all combined with your own intelligence and natural intuition will tell you that they are lying.

Why You Should Keep Letting the Narcissist Underestimate You

My advice on this situation will be unpopular, but I say do not bother trying to prove yourself to a toxic narcissist. In fact, if I were you, I’d LEAN INTO IT! That’s right. Go ahead and let the narcissist continue to underestimate you. Let them think they have control. This will give you an advantage if and when you are forced to deal with them, in every situation. As they say, being underestimated is one of the biggest competitive advantages you can have. And it truly is.

Remember too that the narcissist will also underestimate that your ability and power to heal. They will underestimate that you have the power to learn about and understand what is happening between the two of you, as well as the fact that you can look at yourself honestly and figure out what causes you to end up in relationships with people like them. This is way outside of the narcissist’s own ability, as they cannot acknowledge or admit that they might lack in any particular area.

Here is the thing. The narcissist’s lack of self-awareness, along with their grandiose delusions, lead to their ridiculously fragmented sense of who they are – and this false self that needs to believe it is superior to everyone else, including but not limited to you, is actually the narcissist’s greatest weakness.

For you, this means the narcissist will never see it coming when you decide to take your life back. They won’t know what to do if you leave, and they’ll never expect you to follow through and go no contact or low contact.

Keep Shining, Just Like You Always Do

You know what I want for you, right? I want you to keep on shining as you do. Imagine looking up into the sky and catching a glimpse of the sun through the clouds when you least expect it. You’re blinded for a moment, and you can’t see much outside of light (and maybe a few spots) for a few seconds, right?

Well, I want you to consider yourself the sun here – and the clouds, the narcissist’s delusion. Once the clouds clear, you’ll be seen in all your full glory. But even though the clouds might obstruct your light temporarily, your light can still shine brightly from behind them. And when those clouds do clear, you’ll gain clarity – and you’ll know for sure that you are in fact the light. You with me?

Question of the day: Have you ever been underestimated by a narcissist, and if so, what happened and how did you deal with it? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it! 

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How Do You Identify A Narcissistic Female?

How Do You Identify A Narcissistic Female?


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How do you identify a female narcissist?

Not only do they tend to fly under the radar more often than male narcissists, but their toxic behaviors are often attributed to the fact that they’re a mother or that they’re “more emotional” than their male counterparts, among other things. But trust me when I tell you that they are just as toxic as any other narcissist, if not more so. So let’s talk about it.

You might already know that narcissists in general, regardless of sex, will continuously manipulate to get what they want. They usually show certain symptoms pretty universally – grandiosity, an inflated sense of self-importance and they tend to feel “superior” to others around them, whether they say that out loud or not.

Since their feelings of superiority are typically “bloated” versions of the truth, most narcissists, whether they are male and female, will spend a lot of time focusing on reinforcing their fragile self-perceptions – and that leads to their various forms of manipulation.

When many people think about narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder, they think of men who are more often stereotyped as violent, and full of rage.

And most narcissism experts would tell you that these stereotypes will more often manifest in narcissistic males when they feel threatened that their source of supply will disappear – or if we’re being honest – when they feel that they have been crossed in any way.

Despite popular assumption, narcissistic women are just as toxic and nearly as plentiful as narcissistic men. Studies vary on actual numbers and percentages, but in general, researchers estimate that just over half of all diagnosed narcissists are men. But those are DIAGNOSED narcissists – and you and I both know that most people who have the toxic qualities of a narcissist aren’t likely to be diagnosed.

With that being said, I personally think the numbers are most likely fairly equal. In addition to the fact that narcissistic women slide under the radar because they are often mothers, there’s the fact that fewer men are willing to admit to themselves or anyone else that they might be being abused by a woman. For that reason, fewer women are reported and diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

Key Identifiers of the Narcissistic Female

So clearly, there are plenty of narcissistic women around. And if you are a child of a narcissistic mother, you would most definitely know how true that is, based on your own first-hand experience. But whether or not your mother is or was a narcissist, you may not know the signs of a narcissistic female. Let’s talk about that now.

Women With NPD Express Anger Differently Than Men With NPD

Many people will assume that the malignant narcissist who becomes explosive and aggressive is always male. But that could not be further from the truth. In fact, women with NPD can be the same. There are a shocking amount of physically and emotionally abusive women – and it doesn’t only affect their children. Some women even physically and/or emotionally abuse their partners – male, female, or otherwise. They may also abuse their friends, coworkers or subordinates at work, their siblings, parents, and literally anyone else they feel they have the right to control – or who they feel is less than or otherwise wrong in any way, to put it nicely.

Some common ways female narcissists punish you for not doing what they want is by withholding affection or attention, or by making you feel very guilty to the point that you feel you have no choice other than to beg for their forgiveness. They will gaslight and manipulate you, sometimes covertly, but often blatantly and without remorse. And of course, as I said, many are physically abusive as well.

Women With NPD Appear To Be Martyrs

Women with NPD are more likely to play the victim or the “put-upon” martyr. They might even sacrifice more than is necessary, or appear to, as a play for attention and praise from the people around them. Plus, they are certain (and they expect you to know and recognize) that their pain is worse than the pain that anyone else has and that they suffer more than anyone else. To be fair, this is usually seen in women who might be considered covert narcissists, but any narcissistic woman can display this trait.

Women With NPD Are Extremely Superficial

Male narcissists are just as superficial as female narcissists, and they both care very much about image. They are concerned about their material items such as having the best car, house, and they will brag about how wonderful their kids are – all the while telling their kids the opposite behind closed doors. They do this to hide any insecurities they have just like their male counterparts. They may or may not want designer, name brand everything – and whatever they prefer, they’ll assume the other choice is wrong.

The Female Narcissist Dress Code

One more reason female narcissists slip under the radar so frequently is that most of us would expect a narcissistic female to at least attempt to appear attractive on some level. We might expect that she would appear to be overdone or expensively dressed, and we might think these are the women we would see in the plastic surgeon’s office to get their weekly botox touchups. And in some cases, we’d be right.

But despite this unfortunate stereotype, women who care about how they appear can be narcissists or not. See, the way a woman chooses to present herself really has nothing to do with toxic narcissism. It’s really all about their personality traits and specifically how they perceive and treat others in their lives.

And let’s just put it out here –  just as many female narcissists will judge women who focus on their appearance, and in these cases, they will be very “practical” in their attire, or even completely neglect their appearance. This is when you’ll see them calling other women “shallow” or “materialistic” or worse, they’ll imply that these women are somehow beneath or less than them because they are “attempting to get too much attention,” to put it politely.

Then there are female narcissists who are involved with certain types of religion or spirituality who may dress as dictated by their faith. In those cases, they will judge and feel superior to women who dress in other fashions. And they’ll even judge women who are in the same faith but who don’t, in their opinion, follow all of the specific rules their religion requires. For example, if a religion requires a woman to never cut her hair, but someone gets her ends trimmed, the narcissistic female might tell everyone she knows how that woman is a bad person.

In other words, regardless of what her physical look happens to be, this woman will judge anyone who chooses to look different than she does. The narcissistic female is ALWAYS right, no matter what, and she will not hesitate to tell you all about it.

Narcissistic Women Are Extremely Jealous And Competitive

Narcissistic women are highly competitive and will become jealous easily. They must be known as the prettiest, most successful, most endearing, and smartest around – or whatever their particular version of “best” happens to be. And watch out if you’ve got it going on yourself! Because if you are a woman who makes them feel threatened at all in any way, they will viciously bully you and shame you, and exile you from any social group. They will even do this to their daughters – often. You must remember that there are no limits to which a narcissist will not stoop to get their needs met.

Narcissistic Women Will Be Controlling Mothers Or Mothers-In-Law

While there are many neglectful narcissistic mothers who will simply ignore or refuse to take care of their kids, many will also actively control them without concern for how they feel or what they want. They will aggressively (or passive-aggressively) control the lives of their children and this will continue even when their kids are adults, unless and until they do happen to figure them out and go no contact. They might decide your house isn’t decorated right and start rearranging furniture for example, or they will demand that you raise your kids a certain way, or that you discipline them (or don’t discipline) them in the way they prefer. And in many cases, narcissistic mothers-in-law will be painfully cruel to their daughters-in-law as they see them as someone who took their son away or who is trying to “replace” them. They will also actively compete with them in weird ways – just as they will with their own daughters. Also worth noting: the narcissistic mother will often prefer her male children to her female ones for this reason, among others, and she is more likely to scapegoat her female child. But that isn’t always the case – male children can and are scapegoated often.

What Do Research Studies Tell Us About Identifying Narcissistic Females vs. Narcissistic Males?

I read about a study a while back that offered a few key findings of the major differences between male and female narcs, and in my own experience, a lot of the findings were true.

Male Narcissists Use Force, Female Narcissists Use Martyr Act

So, to begin with, men will often use a lot of force, directly or indirectly, to sort of “assert” themselves and their superiority over others, while women who are narcissists will often take a different form – usually a bit more of narcissistic injury or even seduction. So, in other words, they are more likely than males to either use the “poor me” martyr act mentioned earlier or to use their appearance and sexuality to manipulate people to get what they want.

Some of the study findings included some really interesting and telling key differences.

Male Narcissists More Likely to Self-Handicap

For example, male narcissists, but not female narcissists, will use a face-saving tactic called “self-handicapping.” This is defined as “a course of action to protect or enhance one’s self-evaluation in the face of an evaluation threat.”

In layman’s terms, that means that male narcissists will try to appear confident, but if they fear they will fail, they will “self-handicap” to avoid having to perform at all – they use this tactic to avoid feeling or seeming incompetent. So, for example, let’s say they’re a tennis pro and they’re going to play tennis with a new partner. To avoid humiliation (in case the new partner wins) they might claim this is the first time they’ve ever played.  Or, they’ll feign an injury to avoid playing at all.

According to the study authors, this kind of manipulation is directly connected to a “failure in empathic responding by the mother, resulting in both males and females developing a deficient internalized structure of self. Strategies developed to compensate for it may take on different forms in the males and female.”

This means, according to the authors, that, “mothers may be responding to boys as a significant other figure (e.g. husband), but to girls as an extension of self. As a result, each gender uses different psychological resources to cope with the same deficient internalized structure of self.”

Male Narcissists Can Be More Blatantly Controlling

The study also noted that while male narcissists are likely to actively and openly assert their superiority over others in order to dominate them and for their own self-interest, they can get away with it because it is more socially acceptable for males in most societies. But this kind of behavior from females is less tolerated and will not benefit them as much, so they will often be a lot more subtle than their male counterparts with their brand of manipulation – another reason they slip under the radar so often.

Other points of note:

  1. Female narcissists will use their bodies to get what they want, in many cases, and this includes their sexuality.
  2. Female narcissists are more likely to have an eating disorder than male narcissists.
  3. Female narcissists are more likely to have issues with getting older, especially when they use their bodies or sexuality to get what they want.
  4. Female narcissists are more likely to secure their supply sources at home by controlling their family directly and using guilt to help secure their control.
  5. Female narcissists tend to be less openly over-confident than male narcissists, who get much of their over-inflated confidence from inside their own heads – but females are more likely to take secret pleasure in their own perceived superiority over others.
  6. Female narcissists are more likely to spend money frivolously while males are more likely to believe that money gives them power, control, status, and related conditions. (Neither concerns himself/herself with shame or remorse, of course).
  7. While both female and male narcs are known to cheat, males are more likely to be serial adulterers. Females are more likely to idealize a guy and then emasculate him when they get him under their “spell.” In both cases, the more their partners give, the more they want and take from them – it’s an insatiable need for supply.
  8. Male narcissists often see their kids as mostly a problem or an annoyance that gets in their way, as well as competition for the attention of their main forms of narcissistic supply (generally their wives and mothers), while females are more likely see the kids as an extension of themselves, even well into adulthood. So when the kid does good things, narcissist moms take credit – and when they do things that mom doesn’t like, she will take it very personally even and maybe especially when whatever they did was obviously not related to the mother or her efforts in any way at all.
  9. Male narcissists are likely to openly treat other men as rivals or competition, while females are more likely to go nose-to-nose with other women in a more underhanded way (which often resembles “friendship” to the untrained eye). In other words, they are lifelong “mean girls.”

While this list isn’t all-encompassing, it does offer you a general overview of both male and female narcissists and their various differences in behaviors.

Question of the Day: What do you think? Do you know a female narcissist, and if so, what were your experiences like? What would you add? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support & Resources

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free. Looking for more personal support? You might like to join one of our private small-group coaching sessions, or you might prefer to check out our one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery counseling and coaching sessions. 

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Narcissism – Are The Parents Always To Blame?

Narcissism – Are The Parents Always To Blame?

Is toxic narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder always caused by bad parenting? Is it possible that a person raised by healthy, loving parents in a good, decent home could become a narcissist? Could someone turn into a narcissist as an adult? I’ll answer all of your questions in this video.

If you are in any way related to or otherwise involved with a narcissist, you’ve probably asked yourself at one time or another how they got that way, right? What made them a narcissist? How did they GET LIKE THIS?

And, if you’re like me, you needed to know in order to heal. So, you did your research and you found out that in most cases, it is related to their parents – and sadly, most often, to their mothers or primary caregivers and their attachment styles. That’s why, when you think of any narcissist, the first thing that likely goes through your mind is how badly their parents messed them up.

Because of the fact that most narcissists seem to stop developing emotionally when they are toddlers or middle schoolers at best, and because most research points to the fact that their parents did not give them the love and attention they needed in order to evolve, which led to their emotional immaturity, it’s easy to blame their mothers or parents in general.

But if you’re the parent or sibling of someone who might be a narcissist, and you know for sure that these issues don’t apply to them, you might doubt this theory and find yourself digging for an alternative possibility. And what about those families that have more than one child, and only one turned out to be a toxic narcissist? Or what about people who had good families and didn’t suffer any trauma in childhood?

You want to know if it’s ALWAYS the fault of the parents, right? Well, let’s talk about it.

Are parents always at fault when someone develops narcissistic traits?

Even though more often than not narcissism is the result of the fact that those who turned out that way were neglected or abused by their parents, that is not always the case.

Published research studies tell us that the area of the brain that controls emotional empathy and compassion is thinner in those who have NPD than in those who don’t. So, neurology as well as genetic predisposition will have an effect on how a person’s personality turns out.

And then you have situations where their parents who really did their absolute best to raise their children right, but due to their jobs or other responsibilities, might inadvertently neglect their emotional needs, which leads to their child developing a narcissistic personality.  They may be clothed and fed well and taken care of when they are sick, and they may have all of the material things in the world – but the parents may not have given them the love and attention they felt they needed.

In these cases, the parents were clearly not in any way abusive. It may have been due to the fact that they had other kids, or they had a sick parent to take care of, or they had a demanding job that was necessary to support the family.

Of course, there are also times when narcissists end up becoming that way because of parents who were, believe it or not, overly validating (such as praising a child when the child may not have deserved it) and overly permissive. These parents may have not provided enough limits or discipline for their kids. And while some kids will sort of naturally self-limit, others won’t, and in some cases, they may become narcissists themselves as a result.

Research on How People Who Weren’t Abused or Neglected by Parents Can Become Narcissists

A 2015 study points to the fact that some parents might have overly praised their kids when they might not deserve it, or have always focused on how much “better” their kids were than other kids. And in some cases, they might have simply given too much attention and indulgence and not enough discipline.

“Loving your child is healthy and good,” as one of the study authors, Brad Bushman, a psychology professor at Ohio State University points out, “but thinking your child is better than other children can lead to narcissism, and there is nothing healthy about narcissism.”

In these situations, kids will often develop an overblown sense of entitlement, which they carry into adulthood. In many cases, they were also not required to show any empathy, nor were they asked to check their egos at the door.

This can happen in a number of situations, for example, being overly permissive with and over-praising children are often reported with only children. Please note that this isn’t always the case and that in fact, it is relatively rare. In some cases, though definitely not all, it can be a bigger issue when parents have struggled to get pregnant or when they’re adopted after a long struggle with infertility, or when they are born prematurely or with other issues that caused their parents to fear for their lives .among others.

And of course, in both the case of the adopted child who is older than newborn at the time of adoption and in the case of the premature or otherwise sick child who spends weeks or months in the hospital after birth, their attachment styles can be affected. That’s because parents aren’t able to connect on the same level as they would normally, so they develop a less healthy attachment style, which goes back to the original theory of the attachment style predicting narcissism.

Sometimes, people become narcissistic that has nothing to do with the parents at all. For example, if a child was ruthlessly bullied at school, or if someone else in their lives caused trauma in any way for them. In these cases, while their parents could have been loving and caring, the trauma they experienced at the hands of bullies or other outsiders could certainly have also been a risk factor for them becoming narcissistic.

And then there are those who end up with something we call acquired situational narcissism.

What Is Acquired Situational Narcissism?

So, we know that it might be possible that someone who was raised in a relatively healthy home by decent parents, but who had other traumas and issues, to become a narcissist. But what other situations could lead to toxic narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder?

And if so, what other types of situations and factors can play into it? Let’s talk about it.

Research on Acquired Situational Narcissism

Research published back in 1996 points to a condition that is referred to as transient, temporary, or short-term narcissism.  And even before 1996, psychologists often recognized something they called “reactive narcissistic regression,” which meant that when someone was dealing with a big life crisis, they might end up going through a sort of temporary narcissistic phase where they’d behave like a toxic narcissist until the crisis was over.

And, according to what I’ve found in this and other published research papers, these types of temporary narcissism can also be triggered by medical conditions and even injuries. For example, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has often been linked to narcissistic behaviors and antisocial traits in people who had not previously displayed them.

How to Identify Acquired Situational Narcissism

So what does acquired situational narcissism (ASN) look like in real life? Well, do you know someone who is normally quite humble, but who ended up getting a high-end job and makes a lot of money, or who suddenly ranks high socially, or who ends up gaining celebrity status out of the blue? In these situations, many people are able to keep their heads on straight, but others will seem to sort of lose their humility.

In fact, according to Robert B. Millman, a professor of psychiatry at Cornell Medical School, this is what acquired situational narcissism looks like. He points to known narcissists who are among the billionaires, people who become suddenly famous or who manage to rise to aspirational levels in their careers who develop narcissism in adulthood.

Millman adds that celebrities and other suddenly wealthy people will often have lives that are outside of what we’d consider typical. Plus, they might be surrounded by “yes men,” who will ensure that they are given filtered feedback, excessive admiration and are never told “no” for any reason. Plus, anytime someone is a celebrity or a CEO or otherwise wealthy, they might be sought after in ways that will cause them to feel more important or better than others. All of this is like narcissistic supply on steroids if you think about it.

And, let’s not forget celebrities and other public figures might feel a certain amount of pressure from the public – fans and haters alike – to present a certain image and to live a certain lifestyle.

An Example of Acquired Situational Narcissism

A good example of this is the guy you grew up with who was considered a nerd and who was often picked on, but who grew up and invented some big app, or he created a YouTube channel that somehow got a bazillion subscribers and brought him fame, or he became an actor or singer – or who otherwise found himself a celebrity. In any case, this formerly geeky guy managed to attain success to the point he began to be recognized in public, or he suddenly became a member of the social elite for whatever reason.

As soon as he found himself outgrowing that geeky, quiet image, he suddenly felt like a whole new person. Maybe he went a little overboard and started to focus too much on his self-image, and on his own needs and wants. This, along with the fact that his life is very different from the average person’s (as the lives of all public figures will be), might cause him to lose any sense of compassion and emotional empathy he once had. That might lead to him being unconcerned with the “little people” to the point that he would end up inadvertently or directly abusing the people closest to him without remorse. So, while his transition wouldn’t happen as a child, he still would essentially have developed his narcissism the same way that any other narcissist did – just not in childhood.

But why does this happen to some people and not others?

Well, according to Millman, while it is possible to develop narcissism in adulthood for these reasons, among others, acquired situational narcissism is most likely to happen when there were already some pre-existing factors that would have led to narcissism under the right circumstances. All of this means that, at least in some cases, narcissism can be developed by people who had good, healthy upbringings – and that it isn’t, in fact, always the fault of the parents.

Question of the Day: What do you think about this? Do you know someone with acquired situational narcissism? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

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How Do Narcissists Exploit Your Need For Connection?

How Do Narcissists Exploit Your Need For Connection?


(Prefer to watch/listen? See video on YouTube) Narcissists have this way of exploiting your need for connection. It’s part of how they get you stuck in toxic relationships and feeling like you can’t leave, even if money or family isn’t an issue.

See, as humans, we are wired to connect with other humans. In fact, according to scientist Matthew Lieberman, author of the 2013 book Social, it is as necessary for us as food and water. He notes that social pain (as in being snubbed or having someone say hurtful things to you in a social setting) is as real to us as physical pain.

Lieberman points out that phrases such as “that breaks my heart” and “that hurts my feelings” are cultural evidence of the fact that emotional pain is so significant. And he says that while we might not like it, our wellbeing as humans is literally directly affected in profound ways by our connections to other people. He says social pain IS real pain – so not connecting can be as detrimental to our physical and mental health as not eating healthy food.

And this is confirmed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, which notes in a 2019 report that connecting with other people is far more important than we might think. In fact, we are told that “social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems.”

So literally, by not connecting with other people, we put our health at risk. In other words, the evidence shows that we NEED to connect with people in order to be relatively healthy. But when you’re dealing with a narcissist in a toxic relationship, you might often find yourself isolated and feeling very alone.

Worse, narcissists seem to instinctively exploit our basic human need for connection and use it against us to control and manipulate us. How? Well, let’s talk about it.

Narcissistic Abuse Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

Say the narcissist in your life is a partner or former partner. Do you remember the time when you were with that person and you thought that they were your soulmate? You could not believe that everything you loved, they loved, and everything you didn’t like, they didn’t either. And then they would be so sweet and charming until their narcissistic side came out. They were at first like a dream come true to you and became your worst nightmare.

But what you didn’t know then is that the narcissist had their own underlying psychological issues, likely starting in early childhood. It has a whole lot to do with their mothers (I know if it’s not one thing, it’s your mother) and their attachment styles. See more on narcissist and codependent attachment styles here.

While the narcissist cannot truly feel compassionate and emotional empathy, they certainly watch and learn what you like and how you want and need a connection. Therefore, the only type of empathy that the narcissist expresses is cognitive, superficial, and agenda-driven empathy. They simply just know that you have a need for connection. And they will do anything they can to exploit it.

But why would they do that? Let’s discuss it.

How Narcissists Exploit Your Need for Connection

How would it benefit a narcissist to exploit your need for connection? Two words: narcissistic supply – they need it. And they will whatever they need to get it – including pretending to care about you and expressing false empathy. Here are five different ways narcissists will exploit your need for connection.

1. Narcissists Idealize You

Most of us who end up in long-term relationships with narcissists have experienced at least some form of trauma in childhood. Often, our childhood experiences led us to become people-pleasers or codependents.

In so many cases, we also don’t truly see our value and we have rarely experienced unconditional love. We don’t know how it feels to have someone who is really “on our side” and we’ve rarely been given the opportunity to be the center of anyone’s attention. If we have, it has often been short-lived and spotty at best.

But when you first meet a narcissist, and they see you as a good source of supply, everything changes. The allure of love bombing and idealization – it’s powerful! Because for those of us who have had difficult upbringings, or who didn’t feel loved and seen by others, the kind of validation and perceived love that we get in the beginning of a toxic relationship is literally like a drug! It FEELS incredible and brings out all kinds of feel-good neurotransmitters in us. And since narcissists are so intense, we think we’ve practically won the lottery of soulmates.

We feel like we are walking on air! Not only will some narcissists go to extremes with wooing you, but during that idealization phase, they can literally make you feel you are the most important thing in the world. And when you’ve spent most of your life feeling like you aren’t important or like no one really “sees” you? Yeah. You’re going to fall in love, and fast. And how can you possibly run away from that since this is all a wonderful dream? This is how they trap you and you cannot help but fall for it because you are simply being treated like royalty. But all that is before the other shoe drops, which brings me to my next point.

2. Then They Devalue You

Once the narcissist has you in their trap, they will then show their true colors. They know you value your side of the relationship and while they’re intent on keeping you as a source of narcissistic supply, this is around the time that they notice that you have flaws – you know, that you’re human.

See, during the love-bombing and idealization phase, the narcissist is enamored with you – they can only see what is good about you. And since they lack object constancy, the moment they decide you are in fact human and they begin to mentally tally your flaws, the person you met initially seems to disappear. They start to criticize you, think less of you, and tell you all about it, one way or another.

You’ll start to be confused. You’ll try to figure out what you’re doing wrong, and you’ll do things to try to change yourself to be better for them. You’ll think it’s all your fault and that is partially because this is exactly what the narcissist wants you to think.

Plus, you’ll find that even when you do “fix” something the narcissist complains about, they’ll find something else that’s wrong. You cannot win. So, as you might imagine, this is when they begin to instill fear into you, make you insecure, and this is where the heavy-hitting manipulation tactics like gaslighting come into play.

All of this ends up confusing you to the point that you literally don’t even know which way is up sometimes. You feel like you aren’t capable of making your own choices and you start to lean on the narcissist more and more for affirmation of any decision you have to make. So, as you might imagine, you become increasingly dependent on the narcissist, despite the fact that they become increasingly cruel and negligent of you and the relationship you’re in.

They will play with your thoughts and feelings but will keep you afraid to do anything against their wishes because they also know at this point that you would never leave them because you just simply need a connection. You are dependant on them and they will abuse that and will abuse you.  That means you at some point will fight back and this also provides them with the supply they need because even negative attention is still attention.

3. They Will Discard You If They Find New Supply

Even in a long-term relationship, narcissists always seem to be on the lookout for new supply. And while not all narcissists cheat, many or most do. And sadly, regardless of the level of commitment they’ve promised you and to which they’ve caused you to be obligated, the narcissist can easily disappear if they find a new source of narcissistic supply.

This is true even if they are still in a relationship with you. At this point, they might have even been cheating on you to find the new source. Because they can’t jump from one branch of a tree before they’ve got a good handle on the next – or, to put it more directly, they can’t ever be alone. So in most cases, they’ll hold on to you while they’re looking for their next victim.

And, of course, before they discard you, they will appear to act indifferent to you which will make you even more anxious. And this is another way the narcissist exploits your human need for connection.

See, because they know you fear that they will leave you – and they often do – they will manipulate you by giving intermittent reinforcement during this time. This is where they give you tiny glimpses of kindness, of love, and of that person you originally signed up to be with. You know – little “crumbs of affection,” just enough to keep you hooked and intermittently sprinkled between bouts of gaslighting and other forms of emotional and psychological abuse.

Often, this will lead to the narcissist ghosting you without warning – which will leave you confused, and if you are already dependent on them as it is, it will leave you frazzled, to put it mildly. A lot of times, what they want is for you to chase after them and to beg them to come back. And if you don’t, just wait – many, if not most, narcissists will come back around looking for more supply from you. We call that the hoover maneuver – and it means exactly what it sounds like. Just  like a vacuum cleaner, the narcissist will try to “suck you back in.” You might even fall for it, thanks to that need for connection.

How to Deal When a Narcissist Has Exploited Your Need for Connection

With all of that being said, the best thing you can do for yourself if this happens is to never go back to a narcissist that discards you. If you are able to, go no contact. So so block them from your phone and platforms if they haven’t done that already to you. If you can’t go no contact because you have kids with this person, you can always go low-contact, meaning you can just only communicate with them about the business of raising the kids and never about emotional stuff.

In any case, whatever you do, do your best to avoid accepting them back in your life or inner circle if they do attempt to hoover you. Remember that, ultimately, they are just exploiting your need for connection in order to feed their own need for narcissistic supply.

Question of the Day: Has a narcissist ever exploited your need for connection? If so, how did that play out and how did you deal with it? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

 

5 Things Narcissists Say To Make You Self-Isolate From Others

5 Things Narcissists Say To Make You Self-Isolate From Others


(Prefer to watch/listen? See/hear on YouTube) If you’ve ever been in any kind of relationship with a narcissist – a toxic parent, friend or family member – or even a narcissistic ex – chances are that at least on some level, you found yourself feeling pretty alone in the world. If this person isn’t a family member, you might even find yourself thinking back and remembering the good old days when you might have had a best friend or even a whole group of them. And if the narcissist is or was a romantic partner, you may have had a family that cared about you, and other friends who had your back before you had met the narcissist.

But what happens all too often is that we get so wrapped up in these toxic relationships that we miss something really big – the fact that narcissists have this way of pushing people away from us. We are kept away from people in our lives who might either take our attention away from the narcissist or worse, who might support us against them once we realize exactly what we’re dealing with.

How Love-Bombing and Idealization Play Into Self-Isolation in Toxic Relationships

Now, at first, if this person is a friend or especially a romantic partner, this will seem almost natural. You might find yourself sort of foregoing time with others for a while, voluntarily. And this is pretty normal up to a point at the beginning of a new relationship. But when you’re dealing with a toxic narcissist, it isn’t just that you’re dealing with a normal sort of early-relationship infatuation. Instead, something much more sinister is going on.

On a deeper level, whether consciously or not, the narcissist has a goal to isolate you from others, both for the reasons I mentioned, as well as because it causes you to become more dependent on the narcissist. This ensures that not only will you stick around until they’re done with you, but also that you’ll be more easily controlled by the narcissist.

And, in so many cases, you might find yourself self-isolating as a result of emotional exhaustion that you deal with when you are constantly bombarded with the narcissistic manipulation tactics and games they play with your head. As if that wasn’t enough, you might also develop crippling social anxiety after or during a relationship with a narcissist.

Crippling Fear, Shame and Guilt Related to Narcissistic Abuse Leads to Self-Isolation

You know how it feels when you are in a room full of people, and yet you feel completely alone? If you can relate to that, then you might also be able to relate to the shame, fear, guilt, and/or embarrassment of being tortured by a narcissist.

And, if you’re like a lot of narcissistic abuse victims and survivors, you won’t always feel comfortable discussing it with the people you’re close to, not to mention anyone else. If you’re being honest, the truth is that even though you do your best to put on a good front and generally appear to be totally fine, and even though you’re totally capable of engaging in friendly conversation (and have good social skills), there can be an underlying feeling of isolation when you’re in a relationship with a toxic, controlling narcissist – one that feels sort of like a dull ache. You know it’s there, and you want to soothe it, but you also feel like you’re not really equipped to do so.

You feel like you can’t trust anyone, not even yourself, thanks to months or years of gaslighting and manipulation. And listen, my friend – you’re not alone here. So often, I hear this from my clients – they feel like they don’t even know how to be vulnerable anymore – and they find themselves feeling very gunshy, constantly on alert.

This is just one aspect of the profound effects of narcissistic abuse in our lives. 

Do you know how it feels? It’s where you carry a lot of tension in your body. You have aches and pains and you’re tired. Your stomach is weird. You’re always in “fight or flight” mode, or worse, you freeze. In fact, I’d venture to guess that you sometimes forget how to even talk about yourself, much less how to connect with others on a deep level. Even the idea of having to put yourself together enough to go to the grocery store might feel like too much.

Narcissistic Abuse Takes a Toll on Your Whole Life

See, emotional abuse (not to mention physical and even deeper forms of psychological abuse such as gaslighting) can really teach us to shut up – to stop talking about ourselves – and this leads to our becoming paralyzed in certain ways – one of which is developing the need to be alone! So, we self-isolate and even though we might feel lonely on occasion, we feel safer this way – or at least we think we’re less stressed. This will prove to be a false sense of peace, on some level, since isolating ourselves can be dangerous for our physical and mental health.

And the really messed up part of all of this is that if and when we do find the strength to leave the narcissist, we look around and find that we’re all alone. Our family might be estranged, our best friends have moved on and we don’t even have anyone to invite out for a cup of coffee.

But how is it that the narcissist is able to have such power over you? Maybe you were previously the sort of person who had decent friends and at least a few connections.

The Underhanded Ways Narcissists Make You Self-Isolate

Just like other kinds of narcissistic abuse and manipulation, it’s all very sneaky and subtle, especially if you aren’t watching for it. And the narcissist rarely just comes right out and says, “You need to dump everyone in your life in order to be with me.” In fact, they might even straight up tell you that they LOVE your friends and family members. They might charm them and get them on their side, even. And at first, the people in your life who go along with the narcissist and fall for their charm might be safe – especially if the narcissist can get them to team up with them against you. This might be a little joke at first, but the narcissist hopes for (and sometimes gets) a good flying monkey out of that deal – you know, someone who will assist them in their smear campaign later.

But there will be many people in your life who, initially or over time, might admit to you that they really don’t like the narcissist, or who actively challenge them. They might refuse to “get” the narcissist’s bad jokes, or actively question them when they sense that the narcissist is lying or hiding details. Or, there might people who will act protective of you, like that one friend who sweetly gets up in the narcissist’s face the first time they meet him or her and says something like, “I really like you but if you hurt my friend, I’ll rain down on you like the wrath of a thousand bumblebees,” or whatever.

These people are a problem for the narcissist, because not only might they point out that you’re being emotionally and psychologically abused or manipulated, but they might even help you stand up to the narcissist and get you away from them. Since this would foil their evil plan to dominate and control you, the narcissist sees them as a threat and needs to eliminate them from the equation. And, as I’m guessing you’re painfully aware of by now, there’s no level to which they won’t stoop to get what they want.

Five Things Narcissists Say to Make You Self-Isolate During a Toxic Relationship

So how do you know if this is happening to you? I know, you’re probably thinking it should be obvious when it’s happening, right? But it isn’t, not always, because narcissists can be very subtle and sneaky – and because narcissistic abuse is so pervasive and confusing that you sometimes don’t even know it’s happening to you WHILE you’re in the middle of it. That’s why I’m going to share five things that narcissists will say and do to cause you to self-isolate during a toxic relationship.

1. You’re my person. I’ll always be there for you.

If the narcissist is not a parent or family member, the love-bombing or idealization phase will be the stuff of legends and romcoms alike. Believe it or not, one of the biggest ways non-family narcissists get you to self-isolate is by promising you that they’ll always be there for you – and that they’ll always have your back. It is often the first thing they will audibly say that will lead to this unfortunate situation.

Why? Because a lot of people who end up in relationships with narcissists were also raised by toxic people and/or suffered trauma during childhood that led to them feeling alone in the world. Without realizing it, this leads us to desperately seek someone who is willing to be “our person,” as in, someone for whom we are the most important person in their lives. And, whether or not this person is toxic, because of our own issues developed in childhood, we are at tremendous risk of becoming codependent. This means that we grew up in such a way that we didn’t feel loved and supported – and we are so happy and surprised that someone wants to be “our person” finally, we allow ourselves to be seduced and hooked by the idea of it.

2. This person doesn’t like me, and you need to choose: me or them.

Ah, yes – the good old “me or them” thing – the ultimate ultimatum that no one should ever have to deal with. But sadly, this is another common thing that narcissists say to make you isolate yourself from your family. Not only do they want you to not be with your friends, but they don’t want you to have anything to do with your family, especially when they might emotionally (or otherwise) support you in any way. They will manipulate you into believing that your family or friends don’t seem to like them – or they will DO something to ensure that this is the case. And whether anyone they’re pushing away actually said or indicated any issues with the narcissist won’t matter. The narcissist will literally say whatever they need to say to get your full and undivided attention – at least when and if they want it. Of course, if you don’t immediately dump the offending person, the narcissist, without remorse, will pull out the old narcissistic injury card and tell you how hurt they would be if they were forced to leave you for not dumping this person. You’re put in a position that leaves you with almost no choice.

3. Your best friend did something awful…I just thought you should know.

As you know, narcissists are pathological liars and at times, they are so good at it that they could even pass a lie detector test. That’s because they have a very limited ability to empathize on a genuine level – and because they aren’t likely to feel remorse. This is especially true when they feel upset and threatened, which they are bound to do when you’re close to someone who isn’t them. And your friends, especially your best friend, can become a serious threat to the narcissist’s sense of control. That’s why the narcissist will do the unthinkable to push them away.

For example, the narcissist might make you isolate from your friends by telling you that they are saying not so nice things behind your back. And you might believe them because since they’ll focus this little campaign on your shortcomings and/or insecurities. For instance, if you have a habit of laughing nervously, the narcissist will pick that up and not hesitate to tell you that your friends make fun of how you do that laugh. You know you laugh that way…and you can’t help yourself at times, therefore, you would immediately believe what the narcissist says. That will make you cut your friends off.

Or, and this is the worst, they might make up a story about a specific friend. It might be a total lie, but the narcissist will throw in enough “facts” and so-called evidence that you’ll at least doubt the person in question, if not totally fall for it. For example, they might say your best friend made an inappropriate move on them in some way. This will follow the narcissist having told you (or your friend) that they found the friend attractive. Then, they might have started little innocent flirtations in front of you and later confided to you that your friend made a comment that turned them on or that they saw or heard something that otherwise got their attention.

Even if you don’t believe it at first, this could cause you to have doubts about them as people which will in the end cause you to pull away from them.  And along with your own mind’s ability to connect details and to feel protective of your relationship, this will change the way you feel about your friend – and that will lead to a moment of desperation in which you cut off contact – either directly or indirectly. You’ll lose touch and before you know it, you don’t even know each other anymore. Meanwhile, the narcissist is getting exactly what they want – you, isolated and under their full control.

4. Your family doesn’t think much of you, do they?

Whether your family is amazing and supportive or painfully toxic, the narcissist doesn’t want them in the way. That’s why they will often say things to you about how they notice that your family does not respect you in any way or form. Or they’ll say your family uses you, or that they don’t care about you at all.

They’ll say that they’ve seen this before, and they’ll point out little idiosyncrasies that you’ll start to hyperfocus on (such as the way your mom’s left eye twitches every time you talk about your relationship or the way your sister rolls her eyes when you talk about your dream of writing the great American novel). And to really put the nail in this coffin, the narcissist will do their best to exacerbate and exaggerate actual issues that you have shared with them about different people in your family. They’ll amplify and magnify anything you’ve shared and actively cultivate doubt, anger, and the feeling of betrayal in your mind. This will begin to poke at you over time.  The narcissist will keep pushing it, maybe even blatantly lying and saying things that aren’t true, or things that have a whisper of truth to them, such as pointing out how the family is always talking about you behind your back.

And since you already know that every family talks about its members among themselves, you’ll assume they’re telling the truth. Why wouldn’t you? What kind of person would want to intentionally push someone’s family away from them? (Yes, that was a touch of sarcasm.)  But, all joking aside, you will find yourself falling for this stuff,  especially during the love-bombing or idealization phase. If it happens later, you might even push the family away in order to show the narcissist how loyal you are to them or even to get them off your back. But only rarely will you consciously understand what is going on while it’s happening, because the narcissist can be so sneaky and subtle in their manipulation.

5. I’m the only one who really loves you, you know. It’s us against the world!

This kind of manipulation might look different in different relationships. For example, let’s say the narcissist in your life is your spouse or partner. They pulled you in with promises of having someone “on your side,” of a “soulmate” or whatever your version of that was – but ultimately, you were brought in thinking you were getting your dream person.  So, they’ll pull the old “us against the world” thing, which will initially feel really good to you because you’ll feel like you belong somewhere and are a part of something special – maybe for the first time in your life. Or, if your narcissist was your parent or parental figure, it looked more like “I’m the only person who REALLY loves you so you better do exactly what I want or you risk being completely abandoned in the world.”

And in either case, it looks like “if you don’t do what I want, you will be alone” – and the narcissist KNOWS instinctively that everyone’s secretly afraid, at least on some level, of ending up completely alone and unloved in the world – whether we admit it or not. So, in order to properly secure you as a source of narcissistic supply, they’ll play on your very human fear of abandonment. And if you do happen to have a touch of codependency in you, this will feel like a life or death decision, which the narcissist will seduce you into making before you even realize what has happened.

Bottom Line: Narcissists make you self-isolate for control, manipulation and to secure you as narcissistic supply.

In the end, just know that without hesitation or remorse, the narcissist can easily and methodically manipulate you into believing that your friends and family are no good for you for one reason or another. You will believe the narcissist either because you’re head-over-heels in love with them, or you will do it out of fear because you don’t want to lose them. Of course, once you see the truth, that they are abusive and toxic, it’ll be too late, because they have managed to make you push everyone out of your life and you’ll be alone. This will leave you struggling to find support and, if the narcissist has their way, without access to the help you need to get out of the relationship.

If this situation sounds familiar to you and you’re struggling to figure out how to deal with it, you might want to watch this video, which I’ll also link in the description.

Question of the day: Have you found yourself in a situation like this, where you’ve self-isolated during a relationship with a narcissist? How did you deal with it? And what tips would you offer another survivor in this same situation? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

5 Ways Narcissists Destroy Their Families

5 Ways Narcissists Destroy Their Families


(Prefer to listen or watch? See video on YouTube)

Why do narcissists destroy their families? If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, then you know how damaging it can really become.  And if you have or had a narcissist in the family, then you know how distressing their presence really is to everyone involved. If you dealt with a narcissistic ex, whether you got married to them or not, you might also be well-aware of the way they treat their families. If you had a narcissistic parent, you saw that they were not capable of giving you love and care as you needed to grow up healthy and secure.

So my guess is that if you do or did have a toxic family member, you are probably well-aware of the fact that your average narcissist isn’t capable of being consistently kind to their family. And, in so many cases, they will even be worse to certain members of the family, for various reasons.

The Toxic Family Structure

There’s something weird that happens when you’re dealing with toxic parents: a sort of a different kind of family structure evolves – one that is way outside of what you might consider the spectrum of normal healthy families. I call it “toxic family structure.” What that means is that in most cases, a family led by a narcissist will involve a certain cast of players.

This will include, of course, the Narcissist (or the toxic person the family revolves around), Enabler (often the other parent who may willingly or unwillingly support the narcissist), Golden Child (the child who gets all the positive attention and who often lives with extreme pressure from both the parents who want them to succeed or be perfect as well as the siblings who feel jealous or slighted by this attention that is so opposite of the attention they get), Scapegoat (the problem child/the one everyone blames for everything) and Lost Child (the invisible one who doesn’t get in much trouble or who is largely ignored due to attention to the golden child and the direct abuse of the scapegoat).

5 Ways Narcissists Abuse and Neglect Their Families

Yes, narcissists treat their family members terribly. Let’s break down why they do.

1. A Family Member Is Always Scapegoated By The Narcissist

As you know, narcissists do not treat their family members well at all, and if they do have a favorite, it is not for legitimate reasons. They see their favorite as an endless source of narcissistic supply. Even their favorite family member is used and taken advantage of in cruel ways.

With that being said, there is always a family member that is scapegoated by the narcissist. This often happens among narcissistic parents, for example. There is one child that is their favorite, and there is the other child that is their scapegoat. They will not hesitate to blame the scapegoated child for anything and everything and ends up dealing with abuse.

Also known as the black sheep, the scapegoat is the person in the toxic family structure who always gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for everyone, a member of a family, or a group. The black sheep is usually considered the outcast, the “bad kid” or a straight-up disgrace to the family. A scapegoat may have the following traits:

  • Empathic/empathetic
  • Strong-willed
  • Internalizes blame easily
  • Emotionally reactive
  • Highly sensitive
  • Protective, or overprotective of friends, strangers, etc.

The scapegoat often becomes the caregiver of the family and they’re likely to question everything – including authority (which adds to their pain in the family). And of course, they seem to be different or to stick out from the rest of the family in some way.

But the “golden” child or the “favored” one has a different cross to bear. The golden child might seem to have a sweet deal, but they live in fear of letting their narcissistic parent down because they could end up with the same type of abuse as well. And it could happen. In fact, in many families, the roles are interchangeable and dependent on the narcissist’s perception of each family member in any given moment.

2. Narcissists Don’t Hesitate To Blame Their Family Members For Things Going Wrong

If a narcissist runs into a problem, they will not hesitate to blame the scapegoated family member for the problem they face even if it had nothing to do with them. And they could also lash out at other family members, but the scapegoated one would take the brunt of it. They deflect, blame-shift, and refuse to take responsibility. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak.

3. Narcissists Don’t Treat Their Families With Any Respect

Narcissist family members will speak rudely and will speak in any manner they choose to their family members which undoubtedly is in a way that lacks respect. They can appear charming, generous, and kind to those outside of their family who they are trying to impress so they gain something from them which is praise and recognition. And if these individuals ever spoke to the narcissist’s family members, they would not believe how badly they are treated by the individual who is so ‘charming and kind’.

4. The Narcissist Will Not Hesitate To Push Through Boundaries That Their Family Members Put Up

You already know that narcissists do not treat their families with kindness and respect. You know they will speak to them in very unkind and disrespectful ways. That also means that they will push through any boundaries that their family members put up. For instance, if one family member demands privacy while they are on the phone, the narcissist will ignore that request. They will barge into the room where the family member is making the phone call if they need to get something – or even just to prove a point. They will step on anyone and everyone they call family, without regard for the person or their feelings, in order to meet their own wants and needs. in other words, they do not care how you feel and you can tell by the way they treat you.

5. You Can’t Trust Your Toxic Narcissistic Family Member.

While the narcissist in your family will require absolute loyalty and confidentiality from you, you won’t get the same from them. There are several reasons you cannot trust your narcissistic family member.

First, you will have to deal with regular smear campaigns.

If you were to go against your narcissistic family member’s wishes, then they won’t hesitate to go out of their way to ruin your reputation. They will share private information about you that can be damaging through their social media platforms and they will even contact your boss and tell them reasons why they should fire you. You cannot trust a narcissistic family member in that way as they will definitely share anything damaging about you.

And don’t share your secrets with them!

You can never confide in a narcissistic family member whatsoever. Even if you did not let them down and they aren’t going to conduct a smear campaign, they will still leak out your secrets. Especially if those secrets are the key to giving them the supply they need. They have no integrity.

You have to remember that narcissists are master liars and will never be truthful about anything unless it suits them in the moment – and sometimes, they lie just for the sake of lying. That’s why you should pretty much always assume whatever they tell you is questionable, at the very least. You cannot consistently expect honesty from a narcissistic family member.

From here on out, just be very careful if you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family. They are bound to hurt you in one way or another, and never think they won’t. Even if they say they won’t and have your best interest at heart, they have no idea what that even means.

Question of the Day: Do you have a narcissist in the family? What have your experiences been like and how have you chosen to deal with them? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

 

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