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Why Narcissists Act the Way They Do

Why Narcissists Act the Way They Do

Narcissists might be charming, charismatic, seductive, exciting, and interesting. They will additionally act entitled, exploitative, boastful, aggressive, cold, competitive, egocentric, obnoxious, merciless, and vindictive. You’ll be able to fall in love with their charming aspect and be destroyed by their darkish aspect. It can be baffling, however it all is sensible whenever you perceive what drives them. That consciousness protects you from their games, lies, and manipulation.

Narcissists have an impaired or undeveloped self. They assume and function in another way from different individuals. They behave as they do due to the best way their mind is wired, whether as a result of nature or nurture. The severity of narcissism varies. Some individuals have more symptoms with larger depth, whereas other narcissists have fewer, milder symptoms. The following dialogue thus might not apply to all narcissists to the same diploma.

Regardless of having seemingly robust personalities, narcissists are literally very weak. Psychotherapists contemplate them to be “fragile.” They endure from profound alienation, vacancy, powerlessness, and lack of which means. Because of their excessive vulnerability, they crave power and vigilantly should management their surroundings, individuals around them, and their feelings. Displays of weak emotions, corresponding to worry, disgrace, or unhappiness are insupportable indicators of weak spot both in themselves and others. Their protection system, discussed under, protects them, but hurts different individuals. Once they feel most insecure, they’re more malicious and the influence of their actions is irrelevant.

Beneath their façade is poisonous shame, which can be unconscious. Shame makes narcissists feel insecure and inadequate―weak emotions that they need to deny to themselves and others. That is one cause that they will’t take criticism, duty, dissent, or unfavourable feedback even when meant to be constructive. As an alternative, they demand unconditional, constructive regard from others.


To compensate for feeling inferior, they keep an angle of superiority. They’re typically conceited, essential, and disdainful of different individuals, together with whole teams they think about inferior, comparable to immigrants, a racial minority, a decrease economic class, or individuals of much less schooling. Like bullies, they put down others to boost themselves up.


Their hidden disgrace accounts for his or her braggadocio and self-aggrandizement. They’re making an attempt to persuade themselves and others that they excel, that they’re uniquely special and the most effective, smartest, richest, most engaging, and most gifted. That is additionally why narcissists gravitate towards celebrities and excessive status individuals, faculties, organizations, and other establishments. Being with the perfect convinces them they’re higher than others, whereas internally, they’re not so positive.


Narcissists feel entitled to get what they want from others regardless of their conduct. Their sense of entitlement masks their inside disgrace and insecurity. They convince themselves that they’re superior and it follows that they deserve particular remedy. For example, their time is extra priceless than others, they usually shouldn’t have to attend in line just like the plenty. There isn’t any limit on what they could anticipate from others. Interpersonal relationships are a one-way road, as a result of other individuals are thought-about inferior and not separate from them (see under). They don’t recognize their conduct as hypocritical, because they really feel superior and particular. Rules for other individuals don’t apply to them.

Narcissists’ capacity to respond emotionally and categorical applicable care and concern is considerably impaired. In accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Guide of Psychological Issues, narcissists lack empathy. They’re “unwilling to recognize or determine with the emotions and wishes of others.” (APA, 2013) Analysis exhibits that they have structural abnormalities in mind areas associated with emotional empathy. (See “Find out how to Inform if a Narcissist Loves You.”) They could declare they love you, however it’s essential to decide whether you are feeling liked by the best way they treat you. Real love requires empathy, compassion, and deep information of the one we look after. We present lively concern for that individual’s life and progress. We try to perceive their expertise and world view though it might differ from ours. Should you haven’t experienced such real love or it was combined with abuse, then chances are you’ll not recognize actual love nor anticipate to be handled any higher.

With out empathy, narcissists may be selfish, hurtful, and chilly when it doesn’t serve them to be charming or cooperative. To them relationships are transactional. Somewhat than reply to feelings, they’re serious about getting their needs met―typically, even when it means exploiting others, dishonest, lying, or breaking the regulation. Although they could really feel excitement and keenness within the early levels of a relationship, this isn’t love, however lust. They’re recognized for his or her game-playing. Sacrificing for a beloved one isn’t in their playbook. Their lack of empathy also inures them to the pain that they trigger others, whereas their cognitive, emotional intelligence provides them an edge in manipulating and exploiting others to get their wants met.

Narcissists lack a constructive, emotional connection to themselves, making it troublesome for them to emotionally connect with others. Their undeveloped self and deficient internal assets require them to be depending on others for validation. Somewhat than confidence, they really worry that they’re undesirable. They will solely admire themselves as reflected in the eyes of others. Therefore, regardless of their boasting and self-flattery, they crave consideration and constant admiration. Because their sense of self is decided by what others consider them, they attempt to control what others assume to really feel better about themselves. They use relationships for self-enhancement and for his or her “narcissistic supply.” Nevertheless, as a result of their internal vacancy, they’re never glad. Whatever you do for them isn’t enough to fill their vacancy. Like vampires who are lifeless inside, narcissists exploit and drain those around them.

Mythological Narcissus fell in love together with his personal image, as mirrored in a pool of water. At first, he didn’t understand that it was himself. This metaphorically describes narcissists. Narcissists’ inside emptiness, disgrace, and undeveloped self make them unsure of their boundaries. They don’t expertise other individuals as separate individuals, however as two-dimensional, extensions of themselves, with out feelings, since narcissists can’t empathize. Other individuals only exist to satisfy their needs. This explains why narcissists are egocentric and oblivious to their impression on others, even once they’re cruel.

Narcissistic Defenses

It’s the protection mechanisms utilized by narcissists to protect their vulnerability that make relationships with narcissists so troublesome. Widespread defenses they use are vanity and contempt, denial, projection, aggression, and envy.

Vanity and contempt

These defenses inflate a narcissist’s ego with an air of superiority to defend towards unconscious emotions of inadequacy. It also shifts shame by projecting inferiority onto others.


Denial distorts reality so that a narcissist can reside in an inflated bubble of their very own fantasy world to protect their fragile ego. They distort, rationalize, twist details, and delude themselves to keep away from something which will trigger a chink of their armor, which is so thick, that to some narcissists, no quantity of proof or argument can get by means of.

Projection and blame

This protection allows unacceptable feelings, ideas, or qualities to be disowned and mentally or verbally attributed to someone else. Blame shifts duty, so the narcissist is blameless. This defense serves the same perform as denial. Projection is an unconscious course of, whereby a narcissist doesn’t need to experience anything unfavorable in him or herself, but sees it as external. These traits are projected onto another person or a gaggle of individuals as an alternative. You turn out to be the one who is selfish, weak, unlovable, or nugatory. Projection could be very crazy-making and damaging to the vanity of people close to a narcissist, especially youngsters.


Aggression is used to create safety by pushing individuals away. Narcissists see the world as hostile and threatening, they usually transfer towards individuals aggressively, each in word and conduct. This will result in narcissistic abuse. Vindictive narcissists retaliate as a way to reverse emotions of humiliation and restore their delight by defeating their offender.


Narcissists have to be the perfect. They will’t get pleasure from someone else’s success. If another person has what they want, it makes them really feel inferior. Life is a zero-sum recreation. Competitive narcissists usually are not only envious of people who have what they want; they could react vengefully to convey them down, particularly in the event that they really feel threatened. Narcissists are often envious and competitive with their youngsters.

In case you love a narcissist, the workouts and methods in Coping with a Narcissist may be useful and offer you clarity about the right way to get your needs met and methods to evaluate whether or not to remain in the relationship. E-mail me should you’d like to hitch my mailing record and receive a “Checklist of Narcissistic Behaviors.”

©Darlene Lancer 2019

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