Secret Aspects of Narcissists

Updated on November 1, 2016

Narcissism is Not Just Too Much Self Esteem

Narcissism is going to be eliminated from the new DSM 5 in 2013. However, this controversial decision is in no way going to make a difference to those affected by this personality disorder, who know from bitter experience the psychological and physical trauma it has caused them. DSM 4 Gives the characteristics of NPD as having at least five of the following:

1. Grandiosity. Has an over inflated sense of self importance and achievements. They often believe they are more successful, beautiful, sexy, intelligent than they really are.

2. Belief that they are special. Has fantasies of how this specialness is going to manifest to show their superiority. Only wants to associate with people they deem is worthy or fits this illusion.

3. Needs to be admired/adored

4. Has a sense of entitlement commensurate with their delusion of superiority.

5. Plays mind games. Will take advantage of people to achieve own ends, without regard to anyone's feelings except their own. Does not demonstrate empathy.

6. Jealousy is evidenced as well as the belief others are envious of them.

7. Arrogant behavior

That is the "once" official criteria for diagnosing a narcissist. However, there are some aspects of their disorder that are harder to pinpoint and are potentially devastating if you are not aware of them.

Shape Shifting

When you are with this person, do you have a very uneasy feeling they are thinking something they are not saying? Do they do little things that plant seeds of doubt as to what their intentions are and leave you feeling "sick" or "creeped out"? You could be experiencing narcissistic shape shifting. The narcissist is an adept at playing roles, being two faced and phoney. Other personality disorders also manifest dis-ingenuousness, but with a narcissist, there is a sense of stage management to their tableaux. Secretiveness to hide their real motives, yet putting on an act to suit a particular audience.

They will adeptly mimic you, to given the allusion you are kindred spirits, impress you, sabotage you, manipulate and control you. It is all about getting narcissistic supply, which is to put it simply - admiration/attention - the narcissist is addicted to it. They must create a persona which constantly elicits receiving it - a false self. They use this false self to regulate the flow of their supply. They are to put it simply, stuck up or full of themselves. If the narcissist is not kept on a pedestal in keeping with their fake persona, they will take action, using any means possible to ensure it. They will assume any form necessary and are experts in hiding the transitions. Most people who encounter them do not immediately see the inconsistencies, but over time it gets more obvious. Those who do not distance themselves become enmeshed in their needs, resulting in codependency or co-narcissism. The rest report feeling emotionally ill around the narcissist.

Childishness and Pettiness

The abusiveness of the narcissist is often observed, when they do not receive the adulation they crave. Another aspect to their complete self-centeredness is petty immaturity. If you refuse to be manipulated, you will be accused of not caring about them, taking advantage, or being ungrateful. A guilt trip may be employed. You will be told you should be ashamed of yourself. If you complain about their behavior, they will counter with something you did. For example, if the child of a narcissist questions their parent on certain toxic behavior, they might bring up something their gown up child did when they were young, while their acts are being done as an adult. The odd truth is that the adult narcissist does not make a distinction between behavior appropriate to a child and that of an adult. You may think their requests are silly, or they can't possibly mean what they are saying in certain situations, but they are completely serious. If they are thwarted, they will find a way to pay you back.

It can be little things, like not letting you have something that would cost them no time or money to help you with. They will go out of their way to make sure you know they are withholding something you want, that is in their power to give. Sabotage holidays, backbite, bicker, wind people up to bully and abuse you. Typical school yard tactics. Quite often these are things they "think" you want or are afraid of, but in reality have no interest in or it is not a personal button for you. Because they have no real connection with anyone, they often get it wrong, and the withholding and or petty/abusive behavior becomes plain. If they are very intimate with you and are used to receiving their supply through your relationship, they may wrongly be perceived as "difficult" or that is "just their way" when the truth is something much more problematic. Friends and family members will able to see it, by the easiness with which they could address your issues or fulfill your requests, and the odd glee with which they blatantly do not. Narcissistic rage (temper tantrums) when their needs are thwarted are common in the home.

Inappropriate Expressions

One of the signs of a narcissist are inappropriate facial expressions. This is not just the common "phoney smile", but an odd array of disingenuous facial sets, mixed with bursts of their own true emotions, that are truly disturbing in what they reveal of their inner world. One of the things commonly reported by those who live with narcissists is, "the smirk". You are in emotional or physical pain, usually of the narcissists making and they are exuding a weird glee that shines through their eyes. Sometimes they compose their face in line with what the world has taught them to exhibit, then walk in the next room and bask in their joy in private. Other times if you accidentally injure their false self, you can be given "a looks could kill" glare, over something you thought was relatively innocuous.

A quote from Dangerous Liaisons sums it up well:

Marquise de Merteuil: "When I came out into society I was 15. I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while under the table I stuck a fork into the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn't pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with, and in the end, I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die." Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Shock and Awe

It comes out of nowhere, people connected with this person say odd things to you, and you have no idea where it is coming from. You feel like you have been a part of an argument that went on somewhere else. You are pretty sure someone has been talking behind your back and the stories they are telling are at best twisted and at worse fiction. Often you get the feeling that they are obsessed with you, and you find you can't stop thinking about them, even when you have already written them off and don't want to pay them a moments notice. What is happening to you is projective identification:

"Projective identification differs from simple projection in that projective identification is a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby a person, believing something false about another, relates to that other person in such a way that the other person alters their behavior to make the belief true. The second person is influenced by the projection and begins to behave as though he or she is in fact actually characterized by the projected thoughts or beliefs. This is a process that generally happens outside the awareness of both parties involved, though this has been debated." Wikipedia

You become drawn into a world you do not want to be. You are telling the narcissists things your instincts immediately tell you not to. You are saying things you do not believe and have the odd feeling you cannot be yourself around this person. At some point you start going along with the play they are directing, hoping they will like you and you are oddly afraid of them emotionally if you don't. You think if you dance to their tune everything will be o.k., but they still subtly or overtly betray you in ways that are completely deniable, making you feel you are going insane and you start doubting your own reality. You can't trust your own truth and you either start becoming unstable yourself or long to be on the other side of the world from them. You are being effectively being gaslighted. The narcissist does this to control/punish and exact narcissistic supply.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Mike 3 months ago

      Have had numerous encounters over many years with narcissists. Until you figure out what it is and how the narcissist is affecting you, the experiences can be quite painful and harmful.

      Narcissism is everywhere. Hating it and them is one way to deal with it but having a common understanding of it is better.

    • profile image

      Jane 14 months ago

      I was feeling guilty for not trusting this 'wonderfully innocent' person.

      I noticed his veiled insults, he pretended I had lost my previously 'good sense of humour' he was obsessed with my appearance, encouraging me to change my hair colour diet & outfits. I felt self conscious.

      I noticed his humour was all stolen from TV or me, not one original witty remark. His humour was manic (angry) his true self hides behind his 'jovial' persona.

      Although my gut feeling warned me early on, I had no evidence that harbouring the psychotic rage & looking for a vessel. I noticed when premeditation found a scenario to vent this inner rage he was very alive, aroused & dangerous.

      This condition is dangerous and victims must manage their way out without triggering any suspicion. Once they rage there is no going back to the persona you originally felt guilty for not trusting.

      Trust your gut

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I lived with a narcissistic person for years and it almost destroyed me. I never dreamed that a person good be so evil, abusive and controlling. I'm glad I found your informative and supportive hub. Being educated about this disorder is so important. Everyone should be aware and informed. The world is full of narcissists. Sharing

    • profile image

      liamsquidoo 5 years ago

      Great job on this lens, keep up the good work!

    • profile image

      Soldiersister8184 5 years ago

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Sorry, but a bit of understanding & kindness is NOT enough - my ex-fiance (who has recently been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder) had a LOT of understanding, kindness, support, love, patience etc from me for nearly 4 yrs, and when it became obvious he had mental health issues I supported him single-handedly to get professional help, cos his family were in denial..........and all he did in return was gradually change from "loving" me to treating me like his worst enemy for no rational reasons - he ruined our once great relationship & made my life a living hell to the point I had a mental breakdown, was diagnosed with severe depression & could no longer keep my job.........then he left me suddenly and nastily, just before he would have been starting the therapy we had both been waiting for 12 months for. I'm 3 months out of that hellish relationship now, and only just starting to recover cos I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - no surprise really!!! He has bounced back already as if nothing ever happened, is in denial that he needs therapy now and has never shown genuine remorse, guilt or tried to make amends!! It will take a long time for me to hopefully recover with therapy & I may never be able to trust a man again........being in a "love" relationship with a Narc is the closest to evil I've ever been, and this is NOT love, it's emotional & psychological abuse!!! Yes, nobody is perfect, but Narcissism is something much more sinister and callous - get real!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love the section on shape-shifting, the major part of the one I know.

    • profile image

      gorge-mencer 5 years ago

      My girlfriend recently ended a 2 year relationship a few weeks ago. She said she wanted more time to do her own thing and not have to worry about being with someone. To me that meant she was looking for other people. But now shes saying shed rather not hook up with random guys, but i want to thanks to from the bottom of my heart. after i received a love spell form prophet after some days my girlfriend realize that it was a mistake for living me for another guy. I happy now that things are better since prophet harry cast the spell to my girlfriend back.


    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: That's exactly what a narcissist would say. Sorry but no, you are an adult, you have a choice, you know right from wrong, yet you just can't help it? In that sense, I should feel sympathy for a rapist because he can't help it after all, right? What about a narcissist who rapes your soul and leaves you wounded and almost destroyed? Funny, your answer is exactly what my ex narcissist said to me after abusing me "I' ve made peace with what I am, I didn't try to destroy you. I was hurt too you know, don' t make such a big deal".

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: the fact that you are admitting and realizing who you are is amazing. i just had a "breakup" with my 2yr 9 month tumultuous fling who is a narcissist to a T. I am a codependent. It ended with him controlling and him having the power by name calling and calling all the shots. Insane. A part of me feels awful, the other part feels free. He has an opinion of me and thinks i'm stupid and he's telling all his friends this too. But I have to believe that I am an amazing person to have helped him a bit financially, tons sexually and tried to be a friend. But, with him, it was just an emotion suicide that I was waiting to commit. I have lost a bit of me and my soul, but I will survive...

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 5 years ago from USA

      Covert narcissists are very good at hiding their abuse and unpopular-with-society thoughts. It took me a LONG time to see that my husband is a malignant narcissist and very dangerous.

      Thanks for speaking out. *** Blessed by a SquidAngel ***

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I'm assuming she is your brother's wife and you are living with them. Have you talked to your brother about how you feel? If the she and your brother are divorced and you are living with her, that is not a healthy situation if you are sacred of her; can't you live with your parents or another sibling? Don't be afraid of her because she doesn't like you. There are mean people in the world and not everybody is going to like you. I've written many articles on facing abuse on Hub Pages (I don't make money off it-I do it for healing). Read up on how to heal. Don't be jealous of her because she has a baby. Let her liver her life and you live your life. She isn't on your side so detach from her; she doesn't have your back. Just take a deep breath and do your own thing and spend as little time as you can with her and make a point of not being shocked or hurt that she hates you. Narcissists hate a lot of people and they zone in on whoever is the most convenient to hate. The biggest power she has is your shock that she hates you. How could she be so mean? Don't think about it; that's her problem. Don't make it your problem. Think: she doesn't like me, so?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've been internally searching all of my life to understand and put a name to what I am (this article is enlightening). I have never connected to people, basically acted and manipulated all of my life because I have this emptiness inside of me that has always been there. When I was between the ages of 1-3 I was physically and emotionally abused by my Mother and her boyfriend (who is now in prison). Even though as you will know I don't care what your opinions are I do feel the need to justify and explain that we are who we are and besides killing ourselves what would you have us do? I recognise that I cannot connect to people or 'truly' love but it is not because I don't want to. I don't consider myself a bad person, just somebody who is fucked up. I try to channel who I am to strive to be achieve the best I can in my career and sports.

      There will be quite a lot of people out there like myself and I know from experience that a bit of understanding and kindess is sometimes enough. Al though we can't love in the traditional way we can love in our way.

      Let's face it we all have our own different faults and NOBODY is perfect.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was in a relationship with a narcissist for nine years and, unfortunately, we have two children together so I need to keep contact and be civil. The games never end however.... You know the way to beat them? Wait it out until the moment they relax because you haven't struck in quite a while. Hit them where it hurts. In this case, it's money. A threat of loss of money due to outing them at work for things they've done wrong, a threat of letting people around them know of their deception etc. Not all at once - one small implied threat at a time. Countered with a sly smile and "but, I wouldn't do that - would I" said ever so sweetly. It's unfortunate that we have to sink to the slime ball level of these crazy people but, if you don't, you give away all your power. I'm telling you though - it never ends. I'm sitting back watching it all transpire again. This time treatment is needed for cancer - never mind there is PLENTY of money in the bank to cover an medical expenses not covered by insurance - I'm sitting back watching fundraisers take place and people from my childrens school donate to "help" while she pays for her car and her sisters car to be detailed, goes on a quick trip to California to visit an ailing grandparent etc. "BUT - please - do donate as I have all these medical bills that haven't been covered. Never mind I could pay them ten times over - it's better if you do it for me" DESPICABLE

    • profile image

      narcissistsurvivor 5 years ago

      thanks for the great lense. I, myself, was married to a narcissist and was embroiled in the drama of it even years after the divorce. What you say is true... and the worst of it is when you are the healthy one, yet questions yourself and start to believe what you are being told. God help anyone who is in this type of relationship.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Gosh, are these really "secret aspects" after all? I've surely seen a few around the internet and in real life. Thankfully, none of them were my friends or fans.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have been gaslighted by my sister in law. I lived with her for three years and had to endure excessive competitiveness, false friendliness, false accusations against me and i usually see her hidden expressions when she feels happy about a misdemeanor in my life. i wanted to run away, but i was still in school, so i had to face her everyday. she is 10 years older than me. I always felt shaky around her, afraid of her, because i knew her intentions towards me are sinister in some way. now she has a baby and i'm pretty sure she will throw that in my face just to prove to me that she's better than me, or to try to make me jealous. the worst part is that i am not envious of her, she just scares the shit out of me and that's the only reason she gives me anxiety attacks. I suppose she reminds me of my ex, because my ex was a narcissist and enjoyed seeing me in pain. I've been praying to God about it, I really can't stand these anxiety attacks around a person anymore. so yeah.

    • atirial profile image

      atirial 6 years ago

      Very informative about narcissists and the images really fit the theme. A great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Excellent and you did hit the nail on the head several times here and helped me understand someone I was once in relationship with and why I responded the way I did.

    • sociopath-free profile image

      sociopath-free 6 years ago

      You nailed it and the visual is perfect!

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      Thank you so much, I just added your lens to mine (right after my DSM book section). Take good care, Rose

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      This is really good. I would love to feature it on my lens that talks about the DSM called, 'Not good enough - as is' at:

      I always ask first before I feature anyone's lens (so you can review the content of my work first). Please let me know on my bio page (no rush) if okay with you. (If I do not hear from you, I will assume that you rather I did not).

      Most respectfully,


    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Awesome description of a true N! I am a DONM, so all of this is very familiar.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)