The Tests

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


Here’s a test for you. I am calling it the Abuser Test. You might be an abuser if:

1. …your wife has a black eye because you hit her.
2. …your kids try to hide from you when you are drunk.
3. …you have isolated your family from any supportive people.
4. …your wife cries a lot, but she tries hard never to show that to you.
5. …your kids flinch when you are angry.
6. …you have broken furniture or other personal items in your anger.
7. …your neighbors stay away from you, but talk about your poor family.
8. …you feel a little guilty for hurting others but don’t stop.
9. …your wife and kids wear long sleeves to hide their bruises.
10. …your kids can’t wait to leave home, but don’t because they worry about mom.

Now, did we really need that? I don’t think so. What abuser is going to look at that list of things and be surprised? What abuser is going to take the test and suddenly discover the truth about himself? No, that isn’t the way it works. Besides that, how many abusers are reading this post?

Okay, I can’t say that such a thing would never happen. But most abusers are fully aware that their actions are hurting others. And few would take a test like this in the first place.

I realize I am out on thin ice here, but this is what I think of the increasingly popular “You might be a narcissist if…” tests. What used to be a helpful list of narcissistic characteristics for victims has been turned into a popular test for abusers. The characteristics might be accurate, but the audience is wrong.

A few years ago, when I started teaching about narcissism, I discovered a video of a young lady who took the test in Dr. Drew Pinsky’s book, “The Mirror Effect.” This was a “selfie” video where the young lady talked about her thoughts on the test and her score. She rated very high. And then she proceeded to challenge her viewers to take the test to see if they could beat her score! I have used this in my classes to help counselors understand that the narcissist does not see his/her negative behavior as something wrong.

I recently came across a popular article titled: “15 Signs You Might Be A Narcissist.” You have probably seen it. Many of the characteristics are right on target. When I tried to track down the source, I found another article called, “21 signs you are a narcissist.” That was at a website called Business Insider. But the kicker was the link at the end to yet another article: “4 reasons narcissists can be highly effective leaders.”

Do you see what I mean? Narcissists are often very happy to be narcissists. The culture has turned this cruel behavior into a positive. I suppose we should have expected this. After all, the narcissist truly does not care how his/her behavior affects others. If it works, which it usually does, then it is acceptable. The narcissist considers himself to be the superior leader, strategist, parent, etc. His behavior, no matter how cruel, is just his way of asserting that superiority.

Not all are happy to be called narcissists, of course. Some are indifferent. I once gave an expensive book to a man I considered narcissistic. I wanted him to read about the behavior that his wife and I saw in him. He simply threw it away. He wasn’t interested. He didn’t care what we thought. Our concerns about his behavior were of no concern to him.

You see, I  doubt that a real narcissist will be helped by these tests. I think they trivialize narcissism, even popularize it. Most narcissists simply don’t care. Others will be affirmed by the test.

Victims, on the other hand, are victimized again. It hurts again when you realize people are admiring the behavior that did so much damage to you and your family. It hurts again when people trivialize your pain. It hurts again when the narcissist is lifted up as someone special.

So I hope you will understand when I decide not to link to these tests. If they are meant to help victims understand what has been happening, then they have value. But if they are meant to help narcissists feel good about themselves, we really don’t need them.


Filed under Narcissism

23 responses to “The Tests

  1. I’ll refine your list a bit:

    1. …your wife gets a knot in her stomach when she hears you come home
    2. …your kids try to hide from you. All the time.
    3. …you try to isolate your family from any supportive people.
    4. …your wife tries never to cry because you’ll use it against her
    5. …your kids flinch when you are angry
    6. …you have blamed your wife or children for things that clearly weren’t their fault
    7. …acquaintances, friends and others in your church express concern for your family (to them, never to you)
    8. …you don’t feel guilty or have any empathy for your wife and children
    9. …you appear to lack a conscience
    10. …your kids can’t wait to leave home, but don’t because they worry about mom.

    This test fits the emotionally and verbally person. There aren’t external bruises but the damage is there. Some people can see the symptoms from the outside but it’s harder.

    • J-mom, I have read your list several times, and I like it more each time. Well done! Maybe this will help, in an indirect way. Maybe someone will read this and realize this is their family. Probably not the narcissist, but maybe the victim. As I say in the post, if the test helps someone understand what is happening in the family, then I see value. But I have never met a narcissist who would take such a test seriously, or see himself in a negative list. Thanks!

    • Thank you. I recognize this.

  2. Lady Quixote/Linda Lee

    “Victims, on the other hand, are victimized again. It hurts again when you realize people are admiring the behavior that did so much damage to you and your family. It hurts again when people trivialize your pain. It hurts again when the narcissist is lifted up as someone special.”

    It also hurts again when people don’t believe you. And it hurts again when well-meaning Christians tell you that if you really had forgiven your abuser, you wouldn’t have PTSD caused by the abuse anymore.

  3. I have still been trying to untangle the mess that came into my life when an online mentoring service dropped a “godly” mentor in my lap. I trusted the process somewhat because it came from a “christian” organization. By the second email, she was already singing off with, “love, ____.” Which seemed so forward for not knowing me. Long story short, she drew me in, very deeply, in all the ways I have been I have been needy and lacking, she promised to fulfill with her words. Her actions on the other hand were strong at first in correspondence, and then began to fall away as the word promises got stronger. She even got permission to take me formally out of the mentoring program so that she could be personal with me!! I went along with it, not suspecting too much. As I read these blogs and lists of characteristics, I wonder if this is her. Because after trying to always bridge the gap in our relationship to try and be in those promises she made to me, including being a mother figure in my life, I found that she began to get angry about it, and would act out in our Skyping, while never apologizing. I forgave and didn’t condemn, but when it continued to happen after a year of being together, she shut down, gave me the silent treatment and said she could no longer “help me,” even though she had stated months before that it was no longer a mentoring relationship, but that it would be a relationship like she had with her daughters. So I have been crushed to below functioning levels and have been trying to “right” myself as I feel so hurt, destroyed, abandoned and quite honestly abused. I am unsure why I keep missing her and feeling love for her, while I am so angry that she did this too me. I don’t want to run around and just call everyone who double crosses me in life a narcissist, but who does this and despite my many emails for conversation to talk about things, even if she didn’t want a relationship, to be ignored. How can someone profess so much love, even telling me I am a part of their family now, to somehow being shunned…and why? Because I called her out on her anger? I am confused and I wish I had someone to help me. I have read so much, but still feel lost. I am angry with myself for having these fantasy beliefs that she somehow didn’t mean it and will still come around to at least communicate. I have prayed and prayed and asked G.d to heal my heart and to forgive….so many times. The silent treatment is torture. I suppose if she had never offered to be a mom in my life, that this would not be so impacting. It’s something I have always longed for, since I grew up in abuse and anger and fear. I wish I could quit ruminating on this already….it’s been months. What is wrong with me and how should I be praying differently for release from this??? Does she really have no conscience?


    • This is actually a familiar story to me. Yes, you are being manipulated. She is the one who has hurt you, yet you are the one who feels guilty. You want her out of your life, but now you feel shame and loss. She may or may not have a conscience, but it is obvious that she has an agenda. She helped you for a reason, most likely to make her feel good about herself or to look good for others. The characteristics you describe are classic. I’m sorry. I know it hurts.

      Here are a couple posts you should read or re-read:

      • A “familiar story” in that you’ve heard it before, as in this story resonates with other stories you’ve heard? Or…do we know some of the same people?

      • No, just that others have told me about the same kind of treatment they received from their narcissists.

      • And as I read about the covert narcissist, I would have to say that is what I was dealing with. What troubles my heart so greatly, is because I have wanted a family to belong too and a mom, I reacted very emotionally to her shutting the door so abruptly and without any sort of conversation, which I believe would have released me to walk away, realizing that I need to be listening to the “signs” that I saw and felt next time. Instead, I begged, then raged, then used scripture, then apologized over and over for being so weak and angry in my responses as I tried to gain my equaliberium back. I had been shut in my house for a couple years with severe chronic pain and pain mess from a botched surgery, so I don’t know if that fueled my highly emotionally response which was all over the board. What I hope and pray is that I am not a narcissist myself, and that being that it was such a trigger for me to have a “mom” only to feel like I was unceremoniously thrown away, was just emotions from all the abuse I have suffered in my life, and that I am not manipulative and controlling myself!!! One thing I know is that I was dying for a closing conversation, but I guess I didn’t deserve it. This is the most painful thing, and I wish I had never heard or saw her tell me that she loved me and that I was “like family, like a daughter, like an old family friend” only to find out real time that none of than was true. I would have been so much better if I had to weather that time in my life alone, than be brought through this with her. There are few people that I can think of who are so cruel. She did admit to me that sometimes she is guilty of using her mentoring as a way to make herself feel good. That was in the beginning, before she soured. I wish I would have really listened to those words a little deeper and ran before she hooked my emotions so deeply. I have never had this kind of a pull from another person, especially where I would be so desperate to hear from her so as to relieve myself from this trap.

      • Bruised Reed

        I know what it’s like to desperately want that closure, or resolution, to a relationship. I’ve experienced similar things, both with a narcissistic XBF and an ex “friend.” It hurts, especially when they walk away from you with little or no logical explanation, and you just want to know *why* they have abandoned you! Or they come up with all kinds of crazy, blame-shifting excuses that trap you in a cycle of false guilt and self-doubt. Either way, the problems are ENTIRELY the manipulator’s fault, NOT yours! It took me a long time to see through the fog, but it was incredibly liberating when I finally did! :hugs:

      • Bruised Reed: I greatly appreciate your encouragement!!! This is so ridiculously painful. It is making me feel crazy, and the only reason I can come up with as to why I can’t seem to let go, is because she spoke to all the most vulnerable areas of my heart in offering to fulfill those needs of neglect I have had from childhood. I never asked her for anything, but she gladly offered. I would do anything to stop ruminating on this. Even if she wanted to leave me, a honest conversation would have at least set me free. How is that too much to ask? And how does this ever make any sense for someone who claimed to be so devoted to Jesus?? I keep asking G.d for mercy on my broken heart….how much longer do I have to suffer? I suppose this also knocks on the doors of all the abuse I have had in my life. I feel so trapped. Ugh!!!!

  4. Tee3

    I’ve just been kicked out of our bedroom for speaking up and trying to set my boundaries two nights ago. He hit me. I’ve moved all my stuff into the guest room. I’m seriously considering calling a lawyer tomorrow to know what my options are. I’m taking it one day at a time with God.

  5. Julie

    I have left my partner and father of my six year old daughter on wednesday night. The final nail in the coffin, his brother had come up to stay for two nights to help him with a job at work. On Monday he came home for two minutes then went out to the pub came home around midnight a bit abusive then he went to bed, on Wednesday he went out to the pub straight from work with his brother he cam home about ten and was really riled he wanted to talk quite loudly i said to him i am just finishing watching last ten mins of programme, well he went ballistic calling me names and that all he does is go to work and give me money shouting cursing this went on for nearly an hour. I had come home from work after picking up our little girl, made tea, sorted washing, washed up, ironed cloths for next day, reading with little girl, fed the cat etc I had just sat down at 9.35pm. H woke up our little girl shouting and swearing. In the end I got my little girl and left the house with few clothes, all his brother could say was it proberly for the best till he calmed down, this was midnight when we end up on the doorstep of my married daughter’s home and slept the night and had to get up the morning after to go to work and school. I went back Thurs night to try and get some more belongings when he returned home and all he could do was blame me for his abuse like i had done it how mental is that well h done my little girl and me a favour it has been 12 years to long and for him giving me money well he did not mind pretending to be a respectable person which h turned out not to be. He owed nearly one hundred thousand pounds and the people he owed it to made out they were all friends I did not know he owed anything until nearly a year into the relationship my children and were threatened night and day by different men they ended up with the proceeds of my home which i purchased 16 years before i met him sixty thousand pounds and left me indebt. lots of other things nobody would believe although some do now. Tonight is Friday and know he did me a great favour I will never go back again only tomorrow with my family and a van to salvage what i can of my personal effects.

    • Rachel

      Julie, praying for you. Perhaps the local DV team can help you with your plan. Praying for you and your little girl. Stay strong and stay safe! Xx

      • Julie

        Thank you Rachel for your prayers I am still at my daughters home and going to view a property sunday at 3.00pm it is just a couple of doors up from the church I have attended on and off for the last thirty years. I recommitted my life to Jesus a few months before I left our home a couple of nights ago. I did manage to collect all my belongings, he called me tonight to say I only had to be honest with him because he knew that I wanted to leave for a while and that he still loves me and knows I need my space and he needs his. I know he can be okay at times but I know it is wise to stay away. I made the decision to pick up my cross and follow Jesus Christ and maybe there has been a lot of deceit and emotional abuse and manipulation mixed with some good times but I know that I am nearer to our Father in heaven and I am growing in faith more now than before I met him. No the DV would not be good in the past he had them convinced I was phycotic due to their abuse that was not recognised but put down to just having a baby I told the GP because she said I did not look happy my sister and mum had come up to the house, I did not know that he had been ringing them telling them I was depressed and shouting all the time. I was sent up to the pyschiatric dept and he was there in the middle of it all. I am glad to say the nurse who assessed me rcognised trauma but was ubnder the impression it had come from work when I had a miscarriage and severe stress. But Thank you again I do not feel bitter or angry any more. It is sad it did not work out but I do believe Our Lord took me through each step which involved me as well to bring me right to the place he wanted me. I do appreciate this site and the beautiful people on it. Thank you.

  6. Savedbygrace

    Tee3 I am sorry to hear of this escalation of his abuse. I am concerned for you. Everything I have read from DV specialists warn that you are in a very dangerous time at the moment. Your personal safety is paramount. Do you have a safety plan/exit strategy? Have you considered reporting the offense to the police? If not that, what about phoning a Domestic Violence hotline they will be able to give you immediate, free advice and assistance.You need back up.. isolation allows him to continue abusing you.
    Do not minimise the gravity of your situation. Praying for you x

  7. UnForsaken

    Tee3….+1 and we join Dave in prayer. ❤

  8. Tee3

    Thanks for your prayers. I’ve told my family and they are all supportive. My twin sister has contacted a lawyer on my behalf. She says she’ll get a restraining order for my husband on Monday. The lawyer says if anything happens to me, he’ll be arrested. I’ve stopped doing anything for him, our boys do his cooking now. I’ve also decided to stop going to his church (I know this will get him riled up). I’ll go inform d police about him on Monday.
    I’ve put new locks on d door to my new room and lock myself in at night. I know I’m in a dangerous situation. I don’t sleep well at night , maybe 2 or 3 hours. I use the time to pray.
    Please keep me in your prayers to know the right steps to take.
    Thank you

    • Rox

      We will certainly keep you and your loved ones in our prayers and thoughts. Remember, though it is often easy to forget, that you are a strong, loving person and valuable just for being you. God bless.

    • Rachel

      Good choices Tee3, you have a right to be safe . Hope you can sleep a bit better. I didn’t sleep at all well when my husband left, just lay very still and worried or slept fitfully. It will get better. Praying for you all, stay safe!

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