It’s Narcissist Friday!
If the narcissist is the victim, does that make you the abuser?
Perhaps, of all types of narcissistic abusers, the “victimized” abuser is the most difficult to get past. Some narcissists learned that they could get attention and control others by being victims. Their lives become one sad story after another and they find listeners and believers and helpers to manipulate. This can be a type of covert narcissism that is very difficult to understand and handle.
“Victimized narcissists” are masters at projection, among other behaviors. They can say any hurtful thing to you, but if you dare to say something back, you are labeled as abusive. They can call you any name, but if you challenge them, you are being mean. They can lie about themselves and about you and they sound so honest. And there will almost always be someone who will believe them.
I started to write a story to illustrate this, but it was just too simple. We know these people. They always have some need, someone to blame, and expectations of the people around them. They are sick, poor, lonely, angry, picked on, abused, or whatever it takes to get your attention and time. And once you start helping them, you feel like you are trapped. They call and expect you to answer and listen. They visit and expect you to entertain. They use you and expect you to be happy to be used again.
And you have helped. Over and over and over. But it is never enough. You give money, but it always seems to disappear. You can’t pour enough of your time into their troubles. You make connections so they can get help from others, but those connections never seem to work out. You find jobs, but they are just too busy or sick or troubled to go to the interview. On and on and on.
I have had some run-ins with Munchausen syndrome over the years. Folks that exhibit Munchausen use physical and emotional illnesses for attention. They often create intricate backstories to explain the troubles they have, freely lifting from medical journals, stories of acquaintances, and the internet. Today Munchausen is one of several disorders categorized as “Factitious Disorders.” There are many levels of these disorders, of course. Some people simply make things up. Others will make themselves look sick. Still others will do things to make themselves sick. At a certain point these are considered to be mental illnesses.
While Munchausen is usually focused on physical or emotional illnesses, victimized narcissists may have all kinds of troubles. They are often the victims of cruel bosses, parents, boyfriends, mechanics, landlords, etc. In other words, their troubles very often have people sources. The similarity between Munchausen and narcissism will be obvious to those who have experienced both. I would suggest that Munchausen, because the “sufferer” has little regard for the expense or sacrifice of others who try to help, is a narcissistic behavior. They certainly don’t care about others who actually need the ambulance or the hospital room or the doctor’s time or the financial offerings. That lack of empathy and need for attention certainly connects them to narcissism somehow.
Yet, the victimized narcissist has so many more ways to manipulate people. She is not only a victim, but a better victim than you. She is sicker, more abused, and poorer than you. He has stories that make yours look like you had fun. He works harder and is passed over more often than anyone at work. These folks are better at playing the victim than others and take the competition seriously.
Now, someone will say: “But aren’t narcissists really victims from their childhood?” Many professionals agree that narcissists come out of dysfunctional homes and, yes, were victims of a sort. That does not mean that they should get special attention. Many, many children come from dysfunctional homes. In fact, narcissists don’t often come out of the worst homes. They are often wealthy, coddled, and privileged. But they were manipulated or abandoned or ignored and discovered narcissistic behavior to be useful. The problem is that victimized narcissists would be happy for you to think of them as victims of cruel parents or environments. If it works to get your attention and service, they will even embellish their troubles. So don’t be swayed or compromised by whatever story the narcissist suggests to explain his or her cruel behavior. As I have always said, narcissists are still accountable.
There are some ways to identify these victimized narcissists, if you find that difficult. First, they quickly begin to demand attention. Early in the relationship they seem genuinely grateful, but they soon show anger if you are not fast enough or caring enough with your help. If you don’t answer the phone, interrupt your plans, give sacrificially—then you don’t really care, and they begin to accuse you.
Second, you feel like you have lost your place in the relationship. Because the narcissist sets up the relationship with herself as the victim and begins to lay blame on you even though you didn’t do anything (or perhaps because you didn’t do anything), then you become something less in the relationship. You don’t get to be a victim, no matter what they do to you. You know you aren’t the abuser, even though you are often painted that way. And the narcissist leaves nothing else for you. You have been depersonalized. Either you fit into the relationship the way the narcissist wants or you don’t count. And the skill of the narcissist is to make you believe you are the abuser. You begin to feel like something must be your fault.
Third, you find the relationship draining. The needs never end and you never give enough. You do something to help, but it doesn’t quite help. The money disappears into some kind of bottomless pit. The time is hijacked by never-ending new projects. Even the listening ear becomes numb from overuse. You feel guilty for not being able to make a difference, but eventually you wonder if it could ever be different. You are unable to meet family or work responsibilities, and unable to do the things you used to enjoy. You feel guilty and drained and increasingly angry.
Once again, boundaries are the answer. You help people because that’s who you are. You help the narcissist because she knows that’s who you are. You shouldn’t try to stop being who you are—but you should stop being who you are to the narcissist. Once you realize that you are being used, begin placing boundaries around your time and generosity. You don’t have to answer the phone. You don’t have to jump when he says he needs you. You don’t have to sacrifice your plans for that person again. Yes, she will get angry. Yes, he will call you names. But eventually, the victimized narcissist will move on. You can move on first.
The victimized narcissist is a scam. He/she is a professional user. Most of us fall for the deception from time to time. Don’t blame yourself. Be the kind and helpful person you are. Just put up some boundaries to protect yourself.
46 responses to “Victimized Narcissists”
Reblogged this on Love—Life—OM.
This describes my estranged husband to a tee. We are of different races, and he has used the race card, and every other card to justify his own ungodly behavior. He sued a former employer for unfair treatment, and won. He told me that he recently went to a restaurant, and upon leaving the owner offered to pay the bill (my husband was proud that God’s blessings were upon him), but when the owner asked him to not come back because employees felt threatened by him, then the tables turned, and he was a victim of discrimination. Over and over, he is the victim of discrimination, persecution, etc., and he is suffering for the cause of Christ, or whatever cause sounds best. I am so thankful that I am “here” and he is “there”!
Narc in my life always asks for help when the task can easily be done himself. He was the center of attention for many years from a medical condition, but it resolved—his feeling sorry for himself and wanting to be paid attention to has not. He feels entitled to speedy and expensive solutions to his problems (which are not that serious), but someone could be “bleeding to death” in front of him and he will tell them to put a band aid on it and go on their way. When he verbally abuses and you stand up for yourself he labels his victim the abuser. He erupts and spews his venomous words then 5 minutes later, asks in an angels voice, if dinner is ready. Every employer is “an idiot” and he can do their better job than them. He doesn’t parent his children well, but readily condemns other parents’ actions and decisions.
He is a walking ball of contradictions and poor social skills, but will blame you for all the negative repercussions. He will readily take the credit for your efforts.
Lisa we were married to the same man!! A ball of contradictions. when I questioned how one moment I could be the best step mom in the world then the next day be told that he has always known I would try to put a wedge between him and his kids, I was told I was angry and argumentative.
Always poor me attitude. His late wife (I never met) and his kids never appreciated or respected him. His partners took advantage of him. He was the best physician in his practice but his partners made more money than him. He only married me to have a bad cop to his good cop scenario.
Oh so true!–good cop, bad cop. He loves to say to the children (after he provokes or explodes and you stand up for yourself) “I’m sorry she’s behaving like that”– as he lowers his head with a sad expression and wags his head side to side in disbelief.
Thankfully as they grew older they recognized his false accusations and blaming patterns.
“He only married me to have a bad cop to his good cop scenario.” Yes! This is so true in my pseudo-marriage, too!
Sounds like my husband. Any of his bad behaviour somehow is always my fault. Part of me struggles not to believe him after all these years but I do know that despite my imperfections, his temper tantrums are his responsibility.
This post and your comment describes my ex to a T. He is covert, passive aggressive..and great at making himself the victim. If I would dare to bring up something he said that hurt me, he’d say “You must think I’m a monster to think I’d say something like that!” Simultaneously saying it didn’t happen, and that I am hurting HIM to even say such a thing. Never mind that he DID say/do it. It made me feel like I was going nuts. In fact….this post describes me too too…I was trying to help, but always having it turned around so I was the one in the wrong. I literally could not even wash the dished right as far as he is concerned. He would not outright tell me so, but he’d roll his eyes and make sure I saw that he found my work unacceptable. By the way, I can do the dishes just fine!
In fact, one day (after being “wrong” all day) I told him that it seemed that my job in our marriage was to be wrong…..and he told me, “That’s ridiculous.” ………because I was wrong of course. And how dare I try to point out something that was supposed to work quietly to his benefit.
He has made a career of this since we split. Constantly looking for pity from our friends and church members. He’s good at it too…it works a lot of the time.
From what I gather, nothing is ever his fault at work either. Someone else took his idea. Someone else stepped in his territory. His boss is a jerk who has it in for him. Odd though…he seems to do fine at work..earnign his bonuses and getting raises. But he has to have me feeling sorry for how he is treated. He’s very intelligent…and I’m sure all those folks at work think he is their friend, but that’s how he talked about them when he came home.
I keep wondering when he will give it up. I don’t see him except when I run into him at the kids’. But I guess as long as he gets a payoff from the kids, the church, or our friends, he will keep it up.
Joy,this is sooo familiar!There was absolutely nothing I could do or say that was right,I could never love him enough,show him enough gratitude for his very presence in my life. Oh wait…WE”RE the liars(he wouldn’t admit truth-“I NEVER said or did that!’), possessed of ‘evil spirits'(guess I deserved the bruises on my arms),disrespectful(‘DO NOT question my authority!) . I could go on and on.It seems the same thread runs through many of these posts.Yet,they’re the poor injured victims of all those who do not WORSHIP at THEIR feet. You’re right he will keep it up and it’s hard deal with.KEEP PRAYING-it is a mighty shield!!…….Hugs
Wow, I thought I was alone but find great comfort in reading this thread. You are strong people and I only hope that I can get strength to walk away from someone who has not let me feel good about myself since we have been together. I am a smart person at work but never good enough for him at home other than being his maid, cook and errand gopher.
Reblogged this on Shagustus.
This is my mother-in-law, completely. There’s always an “illness du jour.” Always for attention, sympathy, to shirk responsibilities to others, or to just plain get out of doing things she doesn’t want to do (which mostly constitutes doing things most people enjoy). Ohhhh but if there is food or shopping involved, HALLELUJAH she’s healed!!! It’s a miracle!
Yup, that’s my N-Mum, and I like the expression of “illness du jour”! Tinnitus, arthritis, bursitis, failing vision, lumps, bumps, you name it. Actually, don’t, because it’ll become something she’s had, is coincidentally currently experiencing, or will have in the near future!
Her worst “illness” is HER grief about her husband’s/ my father’s death 7 years ago. Her widowhood, not her belonging/ life in Jesus, is her defining identity and is the absolute framework that her life revolves around. Cringe-worthy are the excuses/ neediness/ attention-garnering/ sympathy-seeking/ denial of responsibility for her own actions or feelings ETC that she extracts from others. I’m not saying she can’t grieve, but there are ways to do so with grace, dignity and sensitivity towards others (who may also be grieving, not that she’d notice, it’s all about HER loss).
Sounds very much like my N mom with her martyr complex. Yes, they don’t only get sick to get attention but also to control. When I was a small child, my N mom would claim to have a heart attack and die any second whenever she did not get her way. But how do you set boundaries as a child?
“The needs never end and you never give enough.”
Reminds me of Matthew 7:6: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Mind the warning at the end! It’s dangerous business. When the perpetrator is a close relative, particularly one you cannot escape from (such as a parent), you’re in for big trouble.
Interesting connection between munchausen’s and narcissism. In my situation, the ExN consistently pulls the ‘trick back’ card when he wants to get out of something — bored at a job, an upcoming commitment or responsibility of any sort– or to get sympathy. This is not to say the back issues were fabricated; but I always suspected he was intentionally injuring himself. It sounded crazy, even in my own head, but it was so predictable, I couldn’t help but think it might be true. After reading this post, I am more convinced than ever that I was right. He really WAS getting hurt purposefully to achieve a desired result. Bizarre.
Boy, Pastor Dave, you really have pegged these individuals – a lot better than the professionals,” in my opinion. Those of us who have lived with these people – the victimized narcs – know exactly of what you speak.
Another one hit out of the ballpark! Thank you.
This piece really hit home. Victimized narcissists are real and working their havoc. I felt like I was reading my mother’s story. It is difficult for me to see how much she enjoys this type of control. She is aging and her friends and family are dying and moving away. The other friends have been ostracized because they are not like how she wants them to be. All she does is drone on about how worldly her children are and that if dad was still alive he’d take care of things. Maybe he took too much care of things. I’d like to think that after 50+ years of marriage when he passed away, he took the speed pass to Heaven and is now blissfully fishing on a beautiful lake with no one to tell him what to do and belittle him. Pastor Dave, you are a gift from God and your blog is giving me the strength to be a better person and break away from these cunning bonds that have been so tight around me all my life. I have slept hours and hours which is something I have never done because of the “rules”. I am seeing a life ahead of me that is so full of joy and promise. I want to take it all in and relish every single second because there still is plenty of time for me to create a non-narcissistic world for myself and my little family.
Bonefundle, I empathize with the sleep! Rules without love are damaging.
You and I know that sleep is necessary – but hardest to get – for stress. When I finally do get sleep it is for shocking amounts of time, and unfortunately the N uses it to justify his ‘laziness’ campaign. Eventually I stopped kicking what God gave and I couldn’t help, and decided sleep is more important than reputation. Glorious sleep can heal more than the body: also the mind!
” Stop being who you are to the Narcissist “. Yes! A very important boundary. It is still hard for me to see how to do this. I have not been able to move on physically, so realize there are consequences to not complying or moving on First. Sure, we can move on mentally – as difficult as that is without space. It still prevents us from living our own lives. But although many times other people will bring what I say right back to him, it’s comforting that I can Try to consciously stop sharing bits of myself . It’s not my fault, and this is so freeing!
This kind of Victimized Narc demanding sympathy can be quite covert. I look at mine and Know it is one of his favorite ploys. Even though I am the one with health issues, ‘poor man’ is the one who has to put up with them….if they are really there! Sarcasm intended. Anyway, they use anything as tools. The Narc who demands help and also likes to be seen as helpful is one of the most confusing. They love to play games with the facts that are the most vague and hard to define, because it gives them an edge, and makes us look dishonest or even psychosomatic. They believe that their health/problems of any kind are the only real problems, but will often go to great lengths on another day to convince someone that you are the only one with Problems. Super man doesn’t have any!
SweetJane72, you’re so right. I think they sometimes convince themselves of their own honesty by not fabricating things. They are quite capable of lies, etc, but it is more believable and a better con if partially true.
Annette, I am just as interested in the answer to your question. As an adult ‘child’ of a N I still struggle with boundaries, but cannot even imagine what I would have done as a child. I don’t think I could have handled the knowledge, but it would be interesting to see what would be a biblical childhood response to this. Whatever age we are, it is important to follow Christ first. Especially as children we look for practical examples of this in others, and inadvertently I became a hero worshiper. No more. Thank God ….. He saves us from our best intentions to give us His! ❤
So true. My ex does not outright lie. Instead he gives partial information that leads a person to draw the conclusions he is leading them to. He will leave out large chunks of the truth to accomplish this. He will sometimes misrepresent his relationships with people or exaggerate to mislead someone.
I’ve recently talked to his girlfriend and seen several things that he has “led her to believe” that are not the truth. But if she ever confronts him he will say, “I never told you that!” She seems like she is pretty nice too..and perfect for manipulating with his subtle ways. Sometimes I wonder how many things I believed that were not true, since it took me decades to see though his image to what he was doing.
My ex is actually quite self righteous about what an honest man he is.
Joy, you hit the nail on the head!
Why make such a big deal about it unless they are showing off? ” Look how honest I am.” But that isn’t honesty I trust. It’s manipulation.
Yes, this is true for my friend as well. They sure gain a lot of mileage out of it, don’t they!
It’s a whole lot of “I killed my parents ….but have compassion on me because I’m an orphan!”
Such a great blog and will definitely be invaluable to those who have struggled in their own self- deception to find the truth in the duplicity and deception by the narcissist in their lives. The three main defenses all narcissists use is denial, projection, and rationalization. Remember every criminal truly believes that he is innocent of any crimes or wrongdoing, well that’s exactly who you’re up against here. Wellness finally comes when they can take back their projections, their projected self. Each and every time they are critical of you simply say to yourself what they’re saying to me and about me is actually entirely about them. Projection is our attempt to split off and disown those unacceptable parts of who we are and convince ourselves that they are actually in somebody else and not us. You mentioned a very common variant of their false self, manipulative defensive strategies by playing the victim role, the “poor me” role. Their tale of woe will always be dramatic, embellished and exaggerated in keeping with their essential grandiose self. Sadly it was the only way they could get any of their dependency needs met in the past. Now as an adult they continue to con and manipulate others to still get their dependency needs met. Still not grown up you see!! They’re always on the hunt for another fix, as they are addicts. People finally grow up, mature and become adults when they finally bring their dependency needs and lay them before our Lord then we are at last truly free of all these toxic dependencies in this world, Satan’s kingdom, instead of finding everything we truly need, fulfilment of all of our dependency needs in God’s Kingdom. Keep up the great work.
Hello. I’m new here. It will be 20 years this year of being married! I came across this site with searching for tips to help with marital struggles and have been feeling so torn and confused and as I read through this post and other posts everything makes a lot of sense. I don’t know if my husband is truly narcissistic but boy it sure does sound a lot like how he can behave! From all the craziness that has gone on I feel like I got to hide around with the way I feel and try my best to avoid discussions as much as possible for fear of how the reaction and unnecessary comments would be or not being able to reason with him and feels like talking with a child having a temper tantrum and him twisting things around back onto me and making it seem like he has not done or said anything wrong and feels like there is always this block or barrier between us and like I am an enemy and when I am quiet with him after and intense eruption he wonders if everything is okay or why I am so quiet like he doesn’t even recognize how he behaved! I feel so lost and confused at times about what to do because I am a Christian and want to do what is right and have faith that all will be better! I am unsure how my husband’s heart is with God as he says he turned his faith away during a time we almost got divorced but when I asked him recently about this he says he prays and asks God to forgive him everyday but when I try to show him things in the Bible about growth and Christian behavior he will try to justify his behavior and act like its okay to keep doing whatever and state he has his own way of things different than what a pastor or me or whoever would say but that is just it man can get in man’s own way and it’s not our way but how God wants us to be and him not realizing that while we are not going to be perfect but we are to walk in God’s ways and put away the things of the flesh and relying on God for strength and not just allow ourselves to let things fly any ole which way with our actions and when we do slip up to pray for forgiveness and strength to do better but he doesn’t even seem remorseful or even want to put forth effort whether about living for God or with working on things together with our marriage. I am in no way perfect and there are things I could have overlooked and am sorry for things I do and try to rely on God to help me and at same time I do not want to be hypercritical or judgmental toward husband either as only God knows his heart! My heart truly goes out to all of you especially also as one should not have to go through this kind of stuff in a marriage as the one we are married too is suppose to be one we can love and trust and share our lives with and do things together and be like best friends and most importantly serve God together! I have confused thoughts in my mind as I think of separation quite often but I would like to give this one intensive marriage counseling program a try where it would be us and up to 5 other couples as maybe in this type of setting with seeing there are other couples that are struggling and maybe also with bringing things out in the open and other people seeing or recognizing stuff that maybe it would help us all to think “hey maybe we do have an issue with something and need help with learning better ways to handle, etc.” and this would be whether myself needs to be more open to something or husband! This is a Christian based program and they offer a strict biblical approach which is something that most Christian counseling places don’t seem to offer for the most part.
I am conflicted by this post.
The people who are dealing with covert abuse can become very desperate for validation, support, help, etc.. These are victims who are not emotionally healthy, and who are often not able to find a person to believe the situation at all. The more unbelievably cruel the covert abuse is, the less likely it is that the victim will be taken seriously. If the victim is a husband who is dealing with severe depression, PTSD, unemployment… good luck!
I have had a church and other people treat me with contempt, and willingly carry out “punishment” on my N’s behalf (they felt very wise and righteous about it). My conflict has to do with the inability/unwillingness of people to make distinctions between victims and the very real narcissistic scenario you present. I have asked many people for help because I am out of strength; I am alone with several scapegoating Ns willing to disassemble any chance at simple peace in my life. I keep asking because I don’t know what to do, and the advice I /do/ find is frequently partial, godlesss, silly, or an attack on husbands (did you know that if a husband simply loves his wife as Christ loves the church and leads her well, then she will naturally /want/ to submit?!) .
I am not functioning well. I have a N who is masterful at playing the martyr. She only really does it to show herself a victim mine, though. She is masterful at deceit too, and uses partial truth and distortion to convince others to “save her” if I am addressing core issues that may “out her”. Incidentally, I suspect (with not a shred of statistical evidence), that this is a far more common scenario than the “victim of everything everywhere” type of covert N.
I would also like to point out that people who have been abused for a long time often have poor boundaries, or don’t defend them well. They will become targets of abuse more easily and more frequently. I consider this kind of person to have a “crushed spirit”. Distinguishing the N professional victim from the serially abused true victim may be difficult. It is important to make the effort, though. At the very least we should attempt to adopt God’s attitude towards the true victims.
The LORD is near to the broken hearted, and saves the crushed spirited.
If the people from that church had read this post, they’d have simply added it to their list of reasons to treat me with contempt. The presence of a serious complaint is equivalent to a pathetic “victim mentality” in their view. Since the narcissists abuse can be so hard to define and pin down, the idea that it’s “all in your head”, and you just need to “man up” is a ubiquitous response. It has become part of church culture to despise a man in my situation.
Please help readers discern this important distinction.
Not just men, women too.
Ex gf, mother of my kids. Can’t count how many times I’ve heard “they’ve been acting up all day” when they were in daycare all day and she only just got them home before I got back from work.
Only difference between her and the above description is she does accept those in the hospital who need medical attention. … that or that’s how she chose to behave to appeal to my strong sense of helping everyone.
And the lies, till she has lost all grasp of reality.
Hard part for me is I want to help. Where she wants to be looked after, any actual help is “how dare you tell me what to do!”
N Sister, she has torn our family apart with lies, half truths, drama and rage filled tantrums. She had always attacked our other Sister and I tried to stay out of it and reason with her… might as well have hit my head into a brick wall. Hours upon hours of being on the phone with her listening to her rage against her mistreatment by other family members and her now ex-husband. The older she got the worse it got… until finally she had accusations so horrible that my other Sister and her family completely went no contact as much as they could. It’s hard when you still have the same Parents and she is constantly using and abusing them. They try to help her and fix her “problems” and of course they never can, it’s never good enough, she always gets the short end of the stick. I have tried being rational, staying calm and not letting her get me into a fight but finally had to go no contact myself. I had always thought she was selfish, bitter, and angry but I realized this was completely something next level when we got into a fight and no joke the look on her face… when she said the awful things she did… she had this creepy smile and look in her eye like she was enjoying it 😦 It was disturbing and actually shocked me speechless. Another instance after that She was at our Parents and called me angry and then proceeded to have a fake conversation with me… meaning I was calming telling her that she needed to get someone else to help her with her particular problem but her response was “Oh, you’re sorry now?”, “You should be… You should be crying I would be to if I had done what you had!” Again, Completely caught me off guard! I even said apparently we aren’t having the same conversation because I am not apologizing, I’m stating facts that this is something our Parents can’t do! She kept on with these fake responses that didn’t have anything to do with our conversation and it dawned on me… it didn’t matter what I said or even if I was on the phone with her… my Parents were there and hearing her version and since I wasn’t on speaker She had made it appear as if I was sobbing and apologizing and admitting to being wrong. I even said to her “This is crazy, I realize what you are doing and you need mental help. Doesn’t even matter if I’m on the phone or not for you to have this conversation.” I eventually hung up and for all I know she might have still been on the phone yelling at me and refusing to accept my “apology” that I never gave and telling me I should feel ashamed ect…. now I don’t get on the phone with her because I see now how she can manipulate that situation. Who knows how many times she has done that around her “N supply people” … pretended to take calls from her evil Sisters and other family members ect. The last I’ve seen, she is smearing our names all over Facebook going to every Cousin, Aunt no matter how distant, and even people we went to high school with and telling of her mistreatment at the hands of her evil Sisters. Most people talk about N husbands and wives but an N sibling is horrible as well as they try to separate you from your Parents and the rest of your family. I know my Sister is sick and I pray for her and wish there was some way to help her. But for my own sanity I have to stay away.
N Sister–this could easily have been written by me, wow, it is so validating to finally hear some one else with this type of sibling. Most of the information I have come across on the internet about narcissists is aimed at people with N spouses/gf’s/bf’s, etc, not so much about siblings, people we had no choice in but are in our lives until death. No contact is the only way. Blessings to you.
Is my mom a narcissist? She never admits she is wrong for specific things that I outline, but she will say a general sorry for anything I’ve done. She isn’t really interested in my news. She forgets the details of my life. She makes me feel kind of squashed and small. She will do things for me, though, like she came to look after me when I had my childrdn. I felt like the decisions I made were looked down on. She definitely resents our nice house. But it is subtle. People who observe ptobsbly wouldn’t notice that she was being a cow. She would say for example “what size is it? After I showed her a dress I had just bought. Whilst I had it on she would say, oh I thought you were bigger. Of course this can be explained away. And up until recently I too thought it wasn’t meant bitchily. But I’ve realised that all her comments bar few have double entendres. Her friends think she is wonderful and giving. But it is all for show because when I need her emotional support, it is not there. And not only that, she blames me for needing it or decides I don’t need it or just changes the subject. She makes me feel worthless. Like I am not good enough. I think she sees me as a threat and she is jealous. My brother, on the other hand can do no wrong. I’m sick of it. But I am reluctant to cut off all ties. Though I think I should, for my own sanity.
If I bring anything up that bothers me she’ll say, don’t be like that! How can you do that to me. Let’s just forget it. Do that it minimises my feelings. But wow betide you if you do the same to her!
Please tell me if she falls into that category because it will clarify things one way or another for me. Thanks
Narcissism is a bit like alcoholism in that everyone else knows there’s an issue except the person WITH the issue.
Read up on narcissism, read up on the traits. You make the decision.
BUT – you did say something that is important. Whether or not your mother IS a narcissist in the truest psychological definition doesn’t matter if you are coming to the belief that you should cut her for “for my own sanity.”
At that stage I would think that you must do what you need to do in order to survive, in order to have peace, regardless of diagnosis.
But I do think you should read up on what happens when you do cut someone off so that you are prepared.
Peace to you.
I can so relate to this. Dealing with my narcissistic mom for almost 65 years makes me wish I had gone no contact permanently as advised by a counselor about 30 yrs ago.
I tried setting boundaries. For 7 years. My N friend would comply for as long as she thought was necessary. Then came the sob story email, trying to reestablish contact (read:supply). This N is a believer. At least so she believes she is.
Early in the relationship she was genuinely grateful, but she suddenly began to show anger when I started to burn out on her demands for attention. If I didn’t answer the phone, or sms back immediately, I was accused of rejecting her. And once I started to apolize or explain I was also busy with husband or ministry I would get guilt tripped to death and give in. I really felt trapped. She would sms 24/7 and expect me to answer and listen. She pressured me almost every day to take her out for some fun, because life was so hard, like it was my job to keep her happy!!!. and she expected me to be happy and enjoy it or I was a fake friend!!!
I felt like I had lost my place in the relationship, I had lost my sense of self. I was her private possession. She totally controlled the relationship with herself as the victim and begins to lay blame on me even though I didn’t do anything. I caught a mouthful of her ire over and over and over again. I indeed felt like I had become something less in the relationship, I had less worth. I caused a HUGE ridt in my relationship with God and others in the body.
It took me a few years to see that I was in fact the victim. Yet her favorite method of beating me into submission was to claim I was abusive to her, her the already damaged wounded victim and I was just another abuser. It took at least 5 years in to the relationship to realize that I was not the abuser, even though I are often painted that way. I was indeed made a thing, not a friend, depersonalized. Either I fit into the relationship the way she wanted or I didn’t count. She had uncanny skill to make me believe I was the abuser. I actually believed that everything that went wrong between us must be my fault.
The relationship was absolutely draining. Her needs never ended and I never gave enough. I’d do something to help, but it never quite helped. The money always vanished, she always never had enough for foid, yet I would see her at church with a new skirt, shoes or top or purse!!!!. My time was hijacked by her never-ending new problems (or people) to be discussed. My listening ear became numb from overuse. I felt guilty for not being able to make a difference, but eventually I began to wonder if I could ever make difference. So I began to pull away. Thats when the REAL DRAMA BEGAN.
I tried boundaries. Gentle hints and reminders. All unheeded. So I would get firm and stand my ground. Then I was the devil incarnate! She would get offended and attack me and say A GENTLE REMINDER WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH!!! Unbelievable!!
Yes, I tried boundaries, explained she had a serious problem with boundaries. All unheeded. I ended the relationship. The condemnations and accusations that followed were not to be believed. The anger, but worse was the heaps of BLAME.
She suddenly wrote to me a few days ago, completely out of the blue after no contact for months, claiming (yet another reason) that her behavior was because she had once lost a baby. (Now, she had a habit over the years of suddenly hitting me with these “shocking disclosures” in order to cultivate my sympathies) In 7 years she never once told me about any baby. And we were really close. You’d think she would have shared this along with the rape (which in the end never actually happened, she exaggerated) the emotionally incestuous relationship with her dad, deep stuff. I was naturally dubious and reminded her our relationship cannot renew. So now she is the rejected victim for ever and I am walking in unforgiveness and sin.
Hiw did I ever get into this?????
It is futile to expect accountability from someone who doesn’t think they have a problem and a true narcissist doesn’t think they have a problem. After almost 65 years of dealing with my narcissistic mother I finally get it. After years of verbal and emotional abuse, crazymaking and wondering what was wrong with me, worrying I was crazy or might go crazy and why can’t l have a normal mother/daughter relationshop, I get it. Verbal and psychological abuse, gaslighting, etc., being drawn into the destructive web once again while attempting to help my 89 year old mom in her old age, I get it. The best times in my life where the ten year stretches I stayed away. I’ve stopped waiting for god or somebody to help me. If I had to do it all over again, I would do what a counselor told me 30 years ago. Walk away and don’t look back. Can’t completely abandon her in old age,, and it is tuff, so I’m educating myself and doing my best to not be affected by it all. Not easy.
Wow….all I can say is, wow! This perfectly summarizes twenty years of my life. I have not read anything that better quantifies the person I eventually had to get away from. It is saddening and yet enlightening at the same time. I can live with the continued constant projection and denial but now this continues to be part of my children’s lives – the only reason I stayed as long as I did. I escaped, but they have no idea what she has done and how she continues to manipulate them. My situation would be enough to fill a book and provide clinical case study. Thank you.
The thing that nearly drove me insane in my relationship with my N friend was the accusation of being abusive. She used that ace every single time I tried to get some space from her, or had to confront her unacceprable behavior. It took a few years for me to finally see, through the advice of others who knew us both, that it was I who was the one being abused and the WORST abuse of all was the accusation of doing the abusing.
This is the best description I’ve seen of the narcissist I know (whom I also believe has Munchausen’s syndrome).
I could see it the first time I met this guy and his audacity continues to amaze me. This man and my boyfriend are inseparable & claim they have been best friends for nearly 15 years. The very first time I met this narcissist I wondered what was going on, because how could my wonderful, kind, selfless boyfriend be best friends with a clown like this? Although I’m a psychologist, I never studied abnormal psychology. I studied mostly group work.
Right away I noticed that this man seems to have no shame and no boundaries at all. He will call and leave the neediest, most ridiculous, most embarrassing, most childish, recorded messages I’ve ever heard. I would never dream of leaving such pathetic, whiny, recorded messages time after time, in just one day! But he never ever leaves a reason for why he is calling. It’s usually nothing at all important although he claims it’s
“very important I get ahold of you!” on the recorder.
Then one day recently he left seven or eight recorded messages for my boyfriend to call him. It turns out he had actually been hospitalized–but why didn’t he tell us that on the recorder??
Further, he would come by every single weekday after he drops off his daughter at school and think nothing of just settling in to visit, or getting my boyfriend to go off with him on some errand. He has (up until recently) been very nice to me, but seems to cleverly insert his closeness with my boyfriend and their storied history together at every turn, bringing up tales of their past adventures and how long and colorful their relationship.
Over time, I have come to realize that my boyfriend has mostly been very kind & selfless to him, often dropping or postponing his (or our) plans to accommodate this jerk.
Although he doesn’t care for the guy as much as the narcissist thinks he does, my boyfriend has been very kind to him and makes time to do things with him, feeling sorry for him. The relationship has clearly become very draining for my boyfriend. He has been a lot more receptive to my insights than I expected; I think he is starting to put the pieces together.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights and experience! Again, this is the most amazing & detailed description I’ve seen of the narcissist.
Wow I found this trying to figure out what’s happening with a friend. Nice article
What do you do when the narcissist really is a victim? My family exited a religious cult over a decade ago and an ex-leader of the cult who had left some time before us had set themselves up as the expert on the cult and had a huge following of ex-cult members who all thought this person was a saint. When we left they contacted us. Initially they seemed very concerned and empathetic, but we found out really early on that in fact they were simply setting us up for more abuse. You couldn’t call them on their behaviour because all of the other ex-cult people thought they were literally a saint because of everything they had suffered in the cult.
Initially of course, we figured this person had been so traumatised that they were simply acting in ignorance and pain. After some discreet enquiries it turns out that this person was always like this and leaving the cult simply gave them an excuse to grandstand as the ‘suffering victim’.
They are not the only ones either. There are other ex-leaders of this cult who left due to political in-fights or head to head conflicts with the cult leader. These people became cult leaders for a reason, birds of a feather etc. But it was something we were not expecting, we just wanted to talk to somebody who understood what we were had gone through. Unfortunately, what happened was that everybody was in the same boat. All the ex-members were traumatised. This is the one reason that I don’t recommend self-help groups, you are more than likely going to just get yourself involved in a replication of the old toxic group dynamics or will just simply have difficulty dealing with everybody else’s pain on top of yours.
What a great question and observation! I have seen exactly the same phenomenon. Leaders who were “hurt” and left, then becoming the same kind of leader themselves. The reason is just what you said about birds of a feather. Narcissists are drawn to narcissistic organizations for the same reason scavengers are drawn to a kill while the predator is still eating. They think there is some pickings for them. Most of these groups have sub-groups: rulers of 100, rulers of 10, etc. Since the narcissistic style is already accepted, they can use it to get what they want from those under them.
Were they hurt by the main leader or the group? Probably. The scavengers get chased away or even killed if they get too close. But they were not hurt in the same way you were because they were never really followers. They were opportunists who thought this was going to be a great ride for them.
I hope others read this. I think you nailed it!
As far as what do you do? I think you try to remember what the person was like when he/she was in the group. Were they like you or like the main leader? If that doesn’t reveal the truth, then ask what they are getting out of the new group they have formed. If they are getting the same kind of thing the main leader was getting from the old group, that might be a clue. Obviously, then stay away.
Because of my own background, I would love to know more of your story. You can write to me at dave at orrison dot net. Blessings!
My mother in law was a victimized narcissist. I got into a verbal argument, and she phoned the police and reported that I assaulted her, but couldn’t get the story straight. They didn’t believe her. Seven months later, she told my spouse I had actually left bruises on her. Made false allegations against every single member of my family and a neighbour. I refused to have anything to do with her and she played such a lonely, widowed, victim card that my spouse couldn’t accept cutting her out. It ended our relationship.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this article!! This article confirmed what I already knew about my personal relationship with my husband. I started blammimg myself years ago, and it took me SEVERAL years to realize the emotional abuse I was suffsring from due to his victimized narsassist! This article made me confirm to myself that I’m not “crazy”, that I have been a good wife for many many years, and that our marriage needs more help than I am ever able to give!
I’ve never commented on any type of article but this one was so very important to me and I just wanted to acknowledge that!!!!
I am actually smiling, thinking of a particular incident with a “victim narcissist” not long ago — and thanks to what I have been learning and understanding, didn’t buy the boundary-violating creep’s display of how MEAN I was to call him out on it. (Thank you, Pastor Dave!)
We’ve only had contact with this guy and his wife a couple times – they invited us and another couple over for an afternoon, we invited them over to our place another time, that’s been about it. Oh, and I attended 2 midweek bible studies he also went to, and when he walked past my chair to his seat, he put a hand on my shoulder and squeezed, like a hello or something. At the time, I just thought he has a lot smaller personal space than I do, and although I wasn’t comfortable with it (and have a history of being ‘trained’ to accept boundary violations from childhood) I just let it go – why make a big deal out of a hand on the shoulder, right? Well, the pastor of that very small church is the most entitled covert N I’d ever seen up to that point, even not knowing what an entitlement mentality OR narcissism was, and when the pastor pulled us into his office and told us he was used to being invited to breakfast before church on Sundays, and although he (supposedly) has a heart condition he LOVES bacon (hint, hint) then waited for us to invite him over for the next Sunday, we decided we didn’t really want to attend that church and there would not be any real foundation for true fellowship. So, I didn’t think I’d be dealing with said couple other than if we ran into each other at the little local store.
Move on to months later, in the summer, and there I was at the store chatting for a couple seconds with the lovely young lady behind the counter about her young son and soon-to-arrive second child, and suddenly I feel two hands wrap around my waist from behind. I froze, felt my eyes widen in shock (and nice-young-neighbor saw it and HER eyes widened at my expression) – I took a couple BIG steps to the side and turned around, and it was the neighbor. I think he must have assumed that since he was a good guy, everyone knows him, he could get away with such personal touching in public and wouldn’t be called on it. I was absolutely furious! I looked him in the eye, and letting my anger show said something like, “What do you think you are doing? We are not such bosom buddies that you would have ANY right to put your hands on me like that!!” He immediately got that ‘wounded’ look on his face (you know that look, right?), sort of wilted down, and mumbled, “Now that I’ve been publicly humiliated…” and turned and walked out of the store. There were a couple other people there, and after young-lady had helped them asked me about what had just happened, saying she thought for sure we must have been close friends because of the way he put his hands on me. I assured her we were NOT, really only barely knew each other and that was why I was so shocked and angry. I think she was as shocked as I was when she realized how utterly rude and abusive what he did, was.
Some weeks later I saw the wife walk past me in line for picking up prescriptions at a local pharmacy (he was in line ahead of me, though I hadn’t noticed until I saw her, there were several people in line). I wanted to let her know I had no ill feelings toward her, and thought she didn’t see me as she went past, so I walked up and tapped her on the shoulder to say hello. She turned around and snarled at me, “We have a problem with hands,” and I knew she was referring to what happened with him at the local market. I replied, “Me tapping you on the shoulder to say hello is a far cry from a man I barely know walking up behind me and wrapping his hands around my waist!” to which she replied, “It’s the same thing.” I was NOT going to let her minimize me or the incident and replied, “No, it’s not, not the same thing at all,” and walked back to my place in the line. (Shaking my head on the inside at how well he’s trained her over the years to make sure the blame goes anywhere but on him.)
On the good side, calling him on his outrageous violation, at the time it happened, and just as publicly as the violation, felt really good. I think it’s the first time in my life I was able to say (and feel) YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO TOUCH ME, DO NOT DO SO. Even in the face of other’s possible disapproval for not just “making nice” and giving him a pass.
There is a lot of “noise” on the internet the last week or so about Joe Biden’s inappropriate touching, smelling hair, stroking etc. of women and children, and I see how people want to make excuses for it – he’s just really affectionate, he’s a touchy-feely guy but doesn’t mean anything by it, etc. etc. but I see the same kind of violation-of-person that the neighbor committed against me, and so wanted to share this. And on THIS page because they seem so innocently HURT if you should call them on it, how dare you be so mean and hurt their feelings, shame them in public, they didn’t mean anything by it, blah-blah-blah. It is actually a “grooming behavior” and is done carefully and publicly so they won’t be called out on it — because we’re supposed to all “be nice” to each other, women and children ESPECIALLY get trained/taught to not make waves, not speak out against it or move away from the touching/violation.
Those two women who came forward and spoke out about how uneasy and uncomfortable they were, are heroines to me. Especially when it involves a public figure, they had to know they would be attacked simply for speaking out. I don’t facebook or twitter or any other social media, but would ask those of you who do, support those who speak out, it’s hard to do knowing you will be the one vilified just because you said “NO, this is NOT okay!”
Thank you for letting me share this. I feel better and doing that just ONCE, and now sharing it with those I know will understand, reinforces inside the knowledge I will draw that line in a very clear way again, if I need to. Pretty empowering, I highly recommend it!
Please help this describes me word for word, I don’t want to be this way! I can barely leave the house, I convice myself I have every disease in the book I plan out exactly how to get what I need from people and it’s not about money or acclaim, it’s about power and control. I know it is, I ruined a good man’s life. The only one that ever saw me for who I was and didn’t run.. why.. I had to, I had said so many terrible things to people I need to bounce my opions off of to say they’re my own that I couldn’t even pretend to be the girl he knew and loved if I wanted to. Not without risking losing my best friends and I will not do that for him or a anyone no matter who it hurts.. I’m sorry but that’s not something I’m prepared or should have to do, I have been through worse abuse than anyone, I have been in therapy for 20 years and I needed him to be more sooner. But I can’t stop thinking what if he never gets better now? Is that my fault? He did do things I didn’t like a lot, and I warned him. The night before I left I slept with him had him take Pics to remember me by, he tucked me in and said goodnight and then I went to a women’s shelter.. well I told people I did.. 🤷 I needed to justify it somehow. I said I was worried he’d become abusive, blamed his past, he helped me with mine.. he was proud of me so proud for my pretend growth. I stopped telling the truth in therapy a long time ago. I tell eveyone about my mental health issues but it’s just a tool I use after learning so much about psychology through my studies and therapy. I got him to open up about his past abuse and even made fun of him for it… God what is wrong with me.. my abuse was real.. I know his was too why do I even care though when he didn’t live up to expectations? I just want to stop thinking about him and his stupid trauma accusing me of ruining his life well I might have issue but mine are real and he deserves this. He just doesn’t like me having power or control and giving him no voice.. he said I was boarderline! Sent me videos after 6 months of whining emails begging for “human decency” like I made him not a human for leaving. He doesn’t even understand what no contact and boundaries mean saying I abused the system and its all insane, he never raised his voice.. well he sure could have, he could have seriously hurt me at anytime and I was scared so he deserves it.. so why do I feel bad when I was abused to? I just want to move on and find myself, I don’t even know who I am, what my love language is. I depend on other people to tell me.. no I don’t dammit, I lie to myself I know I do.. I tell them.. I tell eveyone what I want them to hear, I praise them in ways I waant to be praise so they parrot it back like good birds.. I spend most of my time sleeping or laying around making up ways to avoid or use things and people. I crave any attention 😕 😩 I know I’ll never be able to face my real issues in therapy, I found a therapist who believes what I say and tells me what I need.. i got complacent, I did want to heal but I’m so afraid I am boarderline like my mother and her family who hurt me so bad.. I’m so broken.. I miss him.. I miss our life together it’s been a year and I know he’s still in shock.. it’s kind of pathetic but I still feel so bad. Help me please I want to change
(I regret that I have to try to answer this in the open forum of our comment section, but I have no way to reach out to you personally. At the same time, your comment shows such trauma that I feel I need to respond now. Perhaps I will remove it at a later time. I did take the liberty of removing your last name.)
What you describe may be a “normal” reaction to the abuse you have suffered over the years. A narcissist plans, however subconsciously, the crises they suffer. With the little you have written, I don’t see that.
I do see someone who hurts others however and is acting like a narcissist. And I appreciate that you don’t want to do that. It is natural for a hurt person to lash out, to hide, to lie, and to manipulate. We do that to protect ourselves. It may not work, but we don’t know what else to do. In the process of hurting others, we often, perhaps usually, hurt ourselves. So, yes, you should find a way to heal so that you can stop.
There is little I can do to help from such a distance and through email. I do understand that you have had little help from therapists in the past, but you still need to find one to guide you through this. There are Christian therapists who understand narcissism and borderline struggles, but you should be very careful to stay away from pastors and other well-meaning people who don’t have the skills or training you need.
Be prepared to pay for good help or find ways to get it covered somehow. You have many markers of a traumatized abuse victim. Perhaps a good women’s shelter or a crisis counseling center would be able to point you to the help you need.
I would certainly lean toward a Christian-based counseling ministry for you, but you will still have to be careful. Most counselors (Christian or not) will not be prepared to work in the depth you will need. You will want someone who is kind, but not soft. Someone who cares but will not let you manipulate either the sessions or the counselor. You will want to fit within their boundaries and go through the steps they suggest. And be honest. Just show them what you wrote to me and don’t deny what they see between the lines that is true.
A good counselor will not always say what you want to hear. He or she might want you to answer some questions that don’t make sense to you now. There may be some introductory sessions, but soon you should feel that you are being heard and believed. You should feel that the counselor understands something of your struggle. But you should not feel attacked or manipulated or compromised by the counselor. If you feel these things, say so. If they don’t seem to care, then you will have to find someone else. But don’t give up. The Lord will lead you to the help you need.
Jesus loves you, Katie. He knows what you have been through, and He knows what you have done. He still loves you so much. He invites you to find your rest in Him. He values you as a person and cares for you as His child. The Lord is with you, and you can learn to trust Him.
I will be praying for you. Please write to me again to tell me how the therapy is going. You are welcome to show this note to a counselor.
Poor lost lamb. I imagine you have a lot of demons in your past and in your dreams. My Daughter in Heaven was also afflicted in the same ways you describe. It’s never too late to be forgiven 🙏 no one is beyond redemption. You are not doomed to live out the sins of done against you by your past demons, lay them to rest, ask for forgivness and let the light guide you back from the edge. I’ll keep you in my prayers 🙏
Katie there is HOPE
Listen to this song
Jesus will help you xx