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How to Stop a Narcissist from Driving You Crazy

Updated on June 17, 2016

Cut the Crazy Making

The title of this article is somewhat misleading because no one can make you crazy. This is something you do to yourself when you are involved with a malignant narcissist.

Of course, you don't deserve all the blame. It happens because you've become entangled with a deceitful, malicious personality who doesn't mind hurting you. In fact, doing so probably gives him or her pleasure.

Once you recognize these toxic dynamics, you need to formulate an exit plan. If this is a chosen relationship, such as a friend or a romantic partner, breaking up is the only solution. If it involves a family member, such as a parent or a sibling, this is much more difficult. You need to develop some safe, emotional distance. But you may still need to see this person from time to time.

If you work with a narcissist, you have my condolences. Although you're in good company, as one-third of all American workers are bullied on the job, it's usually a losing battle to continue working in a toxic environment. The majority of targets or either fired or end up quitting because they can no longer take the abuse.

When you venture into narcissism land, no one will argue that some mental space is needed to keep your sanity. That's because malignant narcissists excel at what people familiar with this disorder call "crazy making." Left unchecked, their behavior will drive you right around the bend if you don't put a stop to it.

However, recognition of their devious tactics is the first step toward bringing this foolishness to an end. Here are some of the things narcissists do to drive us insane, along with tips to get off the merry-go-round.

Getting Off the Narcissistic Merry-Go-Round

How to stop a narcissist from driving you crazy.
How to stop a narcissist from driving you crazy. | Source

Don't Accept Their Projection

Someone very familiar with malignant narcissism once told me that someone with a personality disorder will accuse you of the very things they are guilty of. Psychologists call this tactic "projection." Although projection is usually done behind your back, a narcissist will also do this directly, in an attempt to convince you that she is right and you are wrong. It also seems to serve as a defense mechanism. If an abuser has any shred of conscience, this is assuaged by believing that you've done something to deserve the poor treatment.

If a malignant personality is trying to undermine you at work, it's likely your supervisor will hear that you're not being cooperative, because you are so competitive. He or she will also weave a lot of lies into their story, in the most convincing manner.

Or, if you confront a narcissist about her bad behavior, she will, instead try to tell you that you've been doing the very same thing you're rightly charging them with.

One way to protect yourself against believing any of this is to understand this is how narcissists operate. Also, if you wonder what this person has been saying about you, take a look at what they've been doing. This is what they'll tell others you're guilty of.


She'll Get You to Apologize

Malignant narcissists have a talent for getting us to apologize for their wrongdoings. This often happens after we make a futile attempt to get them to own up to something. As part of thecrazy making process, they turn it all around and, somehow, convince us we're wrong.

Even if we don't believe them, unfortunately, we may very well end up apologizing to smooth things over.

Being aware of this ploy may help you realize that nothing you said or did is responsible for the boatload of anger now coming your way. What you are seeing is what psychologists call "narcissistic rage." Don't be fooled. This is all smoke and mirrors. It serves to divert attention away from their misdeeds. It seems as if most narcissists would rather die than admit they're in the wrong.

But, sometimes, especially if they think you're going to end the relationship, they'll apologize profusely, enough to make you believe that they're sincere. The last thing they want you to do is cut them out of your life. They prefer to hold the scissors, so they can clip the cord when they are good and ready. This is after they have once again kicked you into submission, so they can end things with a flourish.

He'll Make You Doubt Yourself

A narcissist would get nowhere if he only picked on people who knew what he was up to. Instead, he chooses his victims wisely, after a period of grooming them to take a fall. During this process, expect to be love bombed. He'll put you up on a pedestal. He'll profess his love and devotion. You'll think you've just met the perfect friend, soul mate or romantic partner.

However, this honeymoon period is likely short lived. A narcissist will eventually chip away at your self esteem, so you begin to doubt yourself. Then he'll abuse you. By that point, you might even think you deserve to be treated this way.

Narcissists get their targets to doubt themselves through a variety of psychological techniques, such as gaslighting. This is when they say or do something, but deny it vigorously. It's a very cruel form of mental torture, named after a 1940s movie in which a deranged husband tries to drive his poor wife crazy.

If you're involved with a narcissist, you can also expect to be belittled and insulted. This is also designed to erode your confidence.

Recognizing what the narcissist is up to will help you take steps to stop this behavior. If you're dating such a person, the best thing to do is to go "no contact."


Coming Back for More

A narcissist doesn't want you to leave him. He wants to dump you, but only after you no longer matter to him, and he's found another target.

If you walk out on him, it will deal a death blow to his over-sized ego. He wants to protect his inflated self worth at all costs.

So, if he senses that you're about to exit, he will once again be on his very best behavior. He'll act just how he acted in the beginning of the relationship. Because this was such a happy time, it's tempting to try to return to these pleasant memories.

However, your knight in shining armor was only an illusion. The real persona is much darker. After another "honeymoon period," you can bank on seeing some of the same old tricks that drove you nuts in the first place.

Don't fall for this ploy. Someone who abuses once will abuse again. In fact, the next time will probably be even more unpleasant, and will come much sooner than you expect.

Crazy Making Techniques

Gas Lighting
A narcissist will deny that something happened, in order to make you question your sanity.
This is when a narcissist accuses you of doing exactly what she's been doing.
A morally disordered person will try to "shame" you in to believing you're bad and unworthy.
You typically see this behavior if you demand accountability for certain actions.

More Empty Promises

Narcissists are extremely reliable, in terms of making empty promises. As she is trying to work her way back into your life, she'll promise never to hurt you again. But this is a lie, as are nearly all the other words that leave her lips.

One hallmark if narcissism is the propensity to deceive. This may be done to avoid consequences, such as you ending the relationship. Or, lies may be told for no apparent reason. It seems as if many people with moral disorders like to pull the wool over people's eyes. They get pleasure from being tricky and sneaky.

For instance, your romantic partner will let you take her out to an expensive restaurant. She'll whisper in your ear how much she loves you. Later that night, after you drive her home, she meets her new boyfriend. Getting away with something like this is what she considers fun.

If someone deceives you once, they'll likely do it again and again. Let them go. It's not worth it.

How a Narcissist Thinks

Letting Go is Difficult

You've invested months, if not years, in a relationship with a narcissist. You dearly miss the person you thought they were, and you have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that this "wonderful" individual doesn't really exist.

You keep hoping, and even expecting, the person you first met will once again reappear. Because this happens periodically, when the narcissist is trying to get back into your good graces, you begin to live for these times. This intermittent reinforcement is what keeps you coming back for more. It's a very powerful attraction.

However, you need to let go of this dream. Because it's only a dream.


The author of this article is not a licensed mental health professional. She learned about malignant narcissist through personal experience.


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


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  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

    Another interesting and informative article on narcissism. You suggest great coping tactics for anyone close to this type of person. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • Antony Mendes profile image

    Anthony Mendes 3 years ago from North Carolina

    Thank you for an informative article that is very well written to my current situation. Very helpful.

  • dashingscorpio profile image

    dashingscorpio 3 years ago

    We are responsible for our own happiness!

    Each of us gets to (choose) our own friends, lovers, and spouse. We get to decide who we will spend our time with or invest our emotions into.

    If someone is "unhappy" in a relationship and they (choose) to stay then (they are choosing) to be unhappy. No one is "stuck" with anyone!

    We are always where we choose to be.

    Very few if any people are walking around with a hand up in the air yelling; "I'm looking for someone to (change) me!" Most people want to be loved and accepted for who (they) are. You are better off finding someone who (already is) the kind of person you want to be with.

    "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

    - Oscar Wilde

    There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships. We either get what we want or we learn to be happy with what we have. One man's opinion! :)

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Very interesting and informative.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I don't do crazy. Narcissists need not apply for my circle of friends. :)

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

    This is such a waste of a person; isn't it? Have they made this choice or were they born this way?

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    Fantastic! Narcissists are someone's friends, parents, siblings, roommates, and the relationships are often fraught with turmoil. At least thee are some relationships you can leave. Others (such as close family members) it's harder to deal. Your choice of photos was awesome. Sharing, pinning, and voting up +++.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

    You can feel like you're going crazy when they accuse you of things you see them do. These are people you want to know so that you know to stay away from them. On other hand, who helps them if everyone abandons them? Thanks for the information.

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Oh my! I have experienced all of these "crazy making" behaviors at some time or another. While for those I've dealt with, I understand the root cause of their narcissism (which can often be quite sad), it still doesn't make their behavior any more tolerable.

    I wonder if some people, especially the younger ones in our company, will question what "gas lighting" means. Gaslight was a great movie and a much watch!

    Glad you included a link to the Coping with Difficult People book. I read that many, many years ago. Loved it.

    Thanks for all your insight into this difficult interpersonal situation. Voted up, useful and interesting!

  • savvydating profile image

    savvydating 3 years ago

    This article is perfect in describing the narcissist. I appreciated the video as well. Narcissists are indeed crazy makers. One has to be able to recognize them for what they are...that way, we can avoid being "entrapped" by them and move forward, knowing that these people are "lost" and that their souls are sick, if not completely deranged. Only an expert can help them, and that is unlikely to happen as narcissist would never seek professional help because they somehow believe there is nothing wrong with them. I would even go so far as to say that they have embraced evil, though they hardly recognize this fact.

    Up, useful, awesome.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Thanks for sharing some more very useful information about malignant narcissism. Learning about this personality type is interesting and very sad at the same time!

  • Mel Carriere profile image

    Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

    Very well written and very informative. You have definitely laid the narcissist bare so the rest of us can see how they really are. Great hub!

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    HI everyone, thanks for reading. Ms. Dora, they go through life burning bridges, but they are very charming, so they are able to recruit new "friends" and victims. It's a sad state of affairs.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

    That would be a sad state of affairs to be involved with such a person and as you said it would be best to cut the cord and move on to other relationships which are certainly more satisfying.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

    Dealing with a narcissist can drive your crazy. It is almost hopeless to try and change their attitudes and behaviors. Good topic and well covered.

  • janshares profile image

    Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

    Excellent job on describing the narcissist, ologsinquito. You made this person sound really scary, very similar to Borderline Personality Disorder but more sinister. You speak directly to the heart of the receiver who has been the victim of the narcissist. I see your disclaimer explains you know from experience. I think that's what makes this article so good, very clearly presented. Voted up and useful.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi janshares, thanks so much for reading and for your feedback.

  • profile image

    delena 2 years ago

    So true and we'll written this was my life for 18 years have now had no contact for 5 months but very hard situation I have two children who he only sees supervised , he is his own worst enemy!

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Hi delena, I'm so sorry to hear about this. Fortunately, the visits are supervised. I will send some prayers your way.

  • Ariel Laur profile image

    Ariel Laur 2 years ago from New York

    Great article and very helpful! I wonder what the evolutionary purpose is for this personality disorder.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    I don't think there is an evolutionary purpose. To me it boils down to good and evil. In the end, good will triumph. Thanks so much or reading.

  • Brynn Thorssen profile image

    Carrie Peterson 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO

    Love it!

  • Crossroads13492 profile image

    Janet Lee Stanley 18 months ago from Whitesboro, New York

    Can someone explain to me why management allows them to stay employed when their behavior causes constant drama at the work place? The comment "I'm not a babysitter" was what i heard when I confronted my boss as to why my coworker never gets hers.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 18 months ago from USA

    Hi Crossroads, I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this. Apparently, management feels they are a valuable asset, so they're allowed to behave this way. The office bully and the manager may be friends. Before striking, the bully makes sure it's doable. This may mean he or she has laid the groundwork, possibly conducting a smear campaign against the target. They may strike only after the target's reputation and work habits are called into question. If they sense the target has a strong support system, they either won't attack or they'll wait. They work things so that they'll "succeed."

  • Crossroads13492 profile image

    Janet Lee Stanley 18 months ago from Whitesboro, New York

    Aren't there HR issues here too though. She is creating a hostile work environment for a lot of other employees. Over stepping her level of authority, policing others when that is not her job. Back stabbing... and the list goes on and on.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 18 months ago from USA

    Absolutely, but she probably knows the HR staff very well. They probably think she's a saint.

  • Crossroads13492 profile image

    Janet Lee Stanley 18 months ago from Whitesboro, New York

    She does, however the HR dept gets no backing from the upper management. They are the ones who "aren't babysitters" I guess it comes down to who's bull is getting gored as my grandfather used to say. UGH

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 18 months ago from USA

    That's right. They aren't in the line of fire. I wish you the best in this battle.

  • profile image

    8 months ago

    Not always true. Might have discovered some of these traits the ways I behaved being unacceptable. Not having gratitude and realising that I didn't just go with the flow when I should have especially in a working situation. Think you need to watch your mental/physical health I usually don't let criticism get to me but I did on this occasion and then I became depressed and now feel like I ended up taking it out on the person by not cooperating, showing compassion, empathy and kindness. Now feel like I should have stopped myself and let go. Was feeling like my job no longer served me and stupidly acted in an unreasonable fashion.

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