How to Avoid Becoming a Narcissist's Victim
Malignant Narcissism is Dangerous
This term "malignant narcissist" was first created in 1964 by Erich Fromm. Dr. Otto Kernberg expounded upon this in the 1980s. By his definition, a malignant narcissist is someone who is grandiose and self-absorbed, and has the other characteristics of the clinically defined narcissistic personality disorder.
However, a malignant narcissist also has a sadistic side. He or she enjoys playing cruel games, and watching people suffer. The disorder is also characterized by an appalling lack of empathy.
Your Encounter With a Toxic Person
If you've ever had your life turned upside down by a malignant narcissist, then this article is just for you.
No doubt, it's been a horrendous experience. If only you could have seen it coming. Then you might have avoided the pain, drama, suffering and self doubt.
People who work above board naturally assume others do the same. But a significant minority do not. They toy with targets much like a cat plays with a mouse before killing it. They are devious and manipulative. They are insanely jealous. They want whatever you possess, and will stop at nothing to get it.
It's estimated 1 out of every 25 people is a malignant narcissist. This means they are deeply disturbed and thoroughly miserable. In order to ease their internal strife, and to boost their self esteem, they feel a need to bring others down. Unfortunately, this is where you entered the picture.
How a Narcissist Chooses Victims
Going forward, it helps to understand how narcissists work.
Why were you chosen as a target? Basically, because you had something the narcissist wanted. Or, she noticed a vulnerability in your life and seized upon it.
Malignant narcissists are good at reading social situations. Before striking, she calculated the risk. (In order not to get caught, and called out on her behavior.) She decided she could get away with it. That's because she sensed a weak link in your armor.
For instance, if you're new to a job, you haven't had a chance to build relationships. This leaves you virtually defenseless.The narcissist knows this.
So she gathers information to disable you. Often, this occurs during the "sizing up" stage when she pretends to be your friend. (Be aware of pushy people you don't know well pumping you for highly personal information.)
Armed with these details, she destroys your reputation. She does this by throwing in a few real facts, combined with outrageous lies. This is very effective.
Or, They'll Erode a Target's Support System
A narcissist also looks for cracks in an existing support system. Here is another example.
You live in a neighborhood filled with young families. You enjoy your neighbors, whom have children the same age as yours.
Then, a new couple moves in.
You like to welcome people. So you introduce them to everyone else. They fit right in.
Soon, they're part of the crowd. Within a month, they have parties at their house. You're invited, but it's uncomfortable. You can't put your finger on it, but the group dynamics have shifted.
Fast forward six months. The newcomers organize all neighborhood events. Everyone is included, except for your family.
It bothers you that your children are hurt. Now, it's Christmas vacation. Just this morning, your eight-year-old daughter watched all her friends pile into two mini-vans parked across the street. Everybody was headed to a skating rink, followed by a pizza party.
This, unfortunately, has become a pattern. Right now, your daughter is upstairs in her room, wailing because she can't go skating.
Group-Based Support is Often Fragile
Your neighborhood support system was weak. It was based upon geographical proximity, as well as the fact everyone had young children. These friendships often don't run deep.
Also, you are your neighbors share a common goal. You want your children to grow into decent human beings. You want them to have good companions. That's why you moved into this nice neighborhood in the first place.
When a situation arose, in which the children could attend a fun event, organized by a neighbor, everybody jumped at the chance, despite the fact everyone wasn't invited. Maybe they didn't see it this way. Perhaps they didn't know.
But, even if they did, very few people have the gumption risk their own social standing, and, more importantly, their children's, to insist one family isn't marginalized.
Narcissists and Relational Aggression
In this case, the new female on your block has strong narcissistic tendencies. She wants to dominate the social scene. But, first, she needs to push you out of the way. This was accomplished by taking control of all activities.
Female bullies employ something known as relational aggression, as a way of excluding a target. Everyone else wanted their children to participate, so they went along with it. Very few people have the integrity to do the right thing, when a master manipulator is in their orbit.
Spotting a Disordered Personality
Overt narcissists are easy characters to spot. However, some people with this disorder are incredibly good at hiding behind a mask. What you see on the outside are learned behaviors, designed to mimic real emotions. Underneath lurks an emotional vampire.
However, a dead giveaway is poor emotional regulation. You might just see passing glimpses of this. An individual may show inappropriate rage, or blow up over trial matters. Even if this is short-lived, and it's quickly followed by an apology, proceed cautiously.
So, What Could You Have Done Differently?
One of the best ways to protect yourself from being hurt by a narcissist is to learn about this condition. That way, you can spot the signs. (Forewarned is forearmed.)
The keyword is boundaries. For instance, if you ask somebody over for coffee, they may stay six hours rather than for two. Or, they might ask you to watch their children for a weekend, right after meeting you. (Narcissistic mothers aren't noted for their maternal skills.)
If you sense something is off, go with that feeling. Give this new relationship some distance and perspective, before becoming entangled.
It's always a good idea to slowly get to know people. At work, don't readily divulge personal details. In the wrong hands, this information can derail your career goals.
Narcissists have long memories. If you've ever offended one, watch your back. Never engage in a head-to-head battle with a character disordered person. They will retaliate, even if it takes a year or more.
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But, Why Did the Narcissist Choose You?
Some experts believe narcissists are drawn toward highly empathetic types, who don't mind helping others. This meshes will with the narcissist's goals.
Here is an example.
Narcissistic mothers need someone to watch their children. Despite a carefully crafted appearance of being a "supermom," they don't like the work it involves.
So they need someone to shuttle their children to soccer practice and piano lessons. They'll show up for the games and the recitals.
Since the day-to-day routine of raising a family bores the heck out of them, they depend upon others to do the heavy lifting.
That's why she chose you, her nice non-complaining "friend." But if you step back and take a look, this is a very one-side "friendship." Cut the cord. You deserve much better.
You Come from a Family Background of Narcissism
Some people are raised in a family where one or both parents, or perhaps an older sibling, had strong narcissistic tendencies. Disordered behaviors were considered normal. So, as they mature, they don't readily recognize the warning signs. They have too much patience with inappropriate behavior. And they dismiss bizarre actions as personality quirks.
We're all drawn to what is familiar. Unfortunately, for many targets, bad behavior is what feels comfortable.
So learn all you can about malignant narcissism. Then, when you see it, run fast in the other direction.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.