Skip to main content

Narcissists Feel Powerful by Tearing You Down

Karli writes as a therapeutic outlet and with the hope that her articles will be useful to others who have suffered psychological abuse.


Narcopaths and Insecurities

Despite the outward confidence they project, someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) depends on external validation and putting others down in order to feel superior. They are extremely insecure creatures of weak character. They go out of their way to project an air of beauty, charm, success, intelligence, etc. in the hopes of having it all mirrored back at them in the reactions and responses from those around them.

According to PsychCentral:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet.

Complete Compliance Is Expected

They need you to agree with them and never question their motives or call them on their egregious behavior. They want to live in Fantasy Land, where everyone around them goes along with whatever they say, without question. They cannot handle reality, so they employ thought reform techniques on those in their inner circle in order to get the targets to conform to their point of view.

Drawing you into their delusions further cements them in their own minds; in other words, you reflect their distorted version of reality back at them.

You Must Play Into Their Fantasy

The narcissist I lived with for several years used to say, "I sound like Jim Morrison" in response to me gently ribbing him about his off-key warbling. (For some context, he LOVED to hear the sound of his own voice, and I am a quiet person, so I found it to be quite distracting at times). He was NOT joking around; he had a very distorted view of himself and his "talents".

That is only one of countless examples, and it gradually became clear to me that he would rather be told a fairy tale version of things than open himself to constructive criticism and possibly a chance for personal growth.

What If You Aren't Willing to Play Make-Believe?

Fantasy Land is a two-way street, at least early on, as my narcopath would frequently tell me what he thought I wanted to hear, apparently with the hope that I would reciprocate. If I want make-believe and pretend, I'll read a fiction novel, but I was not prepared to live in an alternate version of reality. I want those around me—especially those who profess to care about me—to be honest and direct. I much prefer that over false flattery and lies.

He frequently became frustrated at my refusal to play make-believe. Eventually, his attempts to get me to reciprocate his sweet talking tapered off and, by the time I left, nothing he said to me was even remotely flattering.

Inability to Self-Scrutinize

Healthy individuals do not go to great pains to keep reality at bay. Non-disordered people are capable of self-scrutiny and are able to look inward when a loved one or valued friend or colleague calls us out on something, even though this introspection may be uncomfortable or even painful.

We do not need everyone to agree with us; we are capable of compromise and strive for resolutions when disagreements arise.

NPDs Cannot Handle Dissent

I don't know about anyone else, but I for one am frequently baffled by the NPD mindset. They seem to want to be surrounded by mindless automatons who never disagree and constantly reinforce the NPD's false image of him or herself.

How boring life would be, if everyone agreed with me all of the time. If others don't ever challenge me, how would I grow as a person? Narcs are not interested in spiritual growth and personal development. They really are THAT insecure that even the most constructive of criticism, no matter how helpful it is meant to be, will be perceived as a personal attack.

NPDs Always Need to Be "Right"

To a narc, solving a disagreement means bullying or manipulating the other party into submission. They need to be "right" all of the time, and they need to constantly hear feedback regarding how wonderful they are. They are not interested in any kind of symbiosis or harmony; they do not care about the feelings or needs of others.


Delusions and Lies

Overt narcissists frequently state that others are jealous of them, romantically interested in them, want to be like them, etc. These are statements that align with their own fantasies and project an air of superiority to those around them. Egomaniacs with inferiority complexes, NPDs truly are legends in their own minds.

Compulsive Lying

They are compulsive liars, lying to protect their own ego from the painful truth of reality and to inflate themselves in the eyes of others. They flat-out lie and embellish the truth constantly in order to seem more intelligent, skilled, talented, charming, funny, wealthy, etc. than they really are.

They like to give the appearance of being in great demand, that others desire their companionship and counsel. They often adopt a know-it-all attitude, even if they really have no clue what they are talking about.


My narcopath mother-in-law is a classic example of this. She professes to know the best way to do absolutely everything, from child-rearing to lawn care. She has even tried to tell my husband how to do his job. She thinks that science is some sort of sorcery, and she doesn't believe in it, therefore she is more knowledgeable than any scientist or doctor.

On occasion, it can be highly amusing to listen to her rambling, and her responses to certain pointed questions are hilarious. However, there is no way to shut it off, and it quickly wears thin.


Anyone who maintains strong personal boundaries with the NPD, or who tries to get others to see the NPD for what they really are, will face retaliation in various forms. The most common is a smear campaign in which they attack your character and try to get others to dismiss you as crazy, untrustworthy, jealous, etc.

These are some of the most vindictive individuals on the planet, and if they are enraged or feel threatened enough, they may try to completely destroy you by ruining your career, damaging relations between you and close family members, and really just anything they have the power to throw a monkey wrench into, they will do it.


It's worth mentioning that, even though narcissists generally project an air of superiority, they are not above playing a victim. They love to harass those they perceive as weak, then they skillfully twist things around to give outsiders the impression that they are the true victims. This scenario can sometimes result in a mob mentality with everyone ganging up on the victim because they believe the narc.

They also like others to see them as sacrificing themselves for the sake of others, which is why they frequently cast themselves in the role of martyr. Narcissistic parents are prime examples of the martyr role, as they enjoy making their adult children feel guilty by exaggerating how much they had to sacrifice so that their children wouldn't go without. Generally, this kind of guilt trip is intended to get the adult child to do something for the parent out of a sense of obligation.

The Mask of Sanity

Malignant narcissists keep their insecurities and toxicity hidden by putting on a false front for all the world to see. They project an air of confidence and self-assuredness, making it easier for them to control and manipulate others for their own personal benefit. Even though they can fake emotions when it suits them, they completely lack empathy, making them remorseless in their maltreatment of others.

It is important to remember that the persona they portray is all an act, and if we refuse to play a supporting role, then we take away much of their power.

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.

© 2015 Karli McClane