How to Get the Narcissist's Worms Out of Your Head


Parasitic worms are a nasty image; they aptly describe what a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) does to their victims. Like any parasite, they do not want to totally destroy their host (you), because without you (and people like you), the NPD would totally fall apart. Like most parasites, NPD’s have inborn abilities to find and attach to a host without the host realizing that they have been infested. By the time the host recognizes that there is something terribly wrong, the parasite has firmly hooked in to the victim, making escape very difficult at least.

And like all parasites, the NPD lies in wait patiently, until a suitable host comes by (usually stumbling by, actually). Like getting a tick in your groin while answering nature’s call in the deep woods, the NPD is always on the lookout for a vulnerable host/victim. Many victims of NPD’s, if they are honest and examine themselves forensically closely in clinical counseling, will be able to recognize just how vulnerable they were at the time the NPD entered their lives. The NPD immediately began to administer the anesthesia best suited for the victim: compliments, charm, sympathy, economic support, or emotional security (or a combination of these).

Once the host/victim is numbed, a slow, subtle process begins of draining the victim of their life. Tiny digs begin about the victim’s imperfections and character flaws, and the use of repetition, proofing (citing endless fabricated ‘proofs’ for your stupidity), gas-lighting, and other brainwashing techniques escalate towards total possession. Each of these techniques are like parasitic worms that the NPD places in the host/victim’s head for further development and use. Some are left dormant for a time, but are planted at a vulnerable moment for later use. And the effort is relentless, it never stops, and is a constant process of parasitic infection.

The assault on the host/victim is perpetrated upon the brain’s limbic system. This is the exact strategy used by experienced torturers in ‘brainwashing’ efforts. The strategy involves relentless pressure and manipulation of the emotional centers of the brain (limbic system), often to the intentional exclusion of the more logical and critical thinking areas of the brain. The objective in this kind of mind-control is to gain one hundred percent control over the individual emotionally and shut down all use of critical thought.

Planting the ‘worms’ of self-doubt is achieved by the NPD finding out about your areas of lower self-esteem, and starting the process of repeatedly bringing them up, with small additions to ‘tie down’ the flaw. The repetitions are employed as a method of wearing down and forcing the worm to go deeper into the individual’s psyche and self-identity. Never missing a chance to comment on your errors (even simple, common, human errors) is just one form of ‘proofing’, other forms are simply making things up on how what you do or do not do is messing up the life of the NPD. “Gas-lighting” is such a broad category as to be beyond the scope of this brief article, but suffice it to say that there are dozens of not hundreds of ways the NPD does this. (Look up the 1944 film, ‘Gaslight’).

Identify the Worms

You cannot purge yourself of the worms unless you know what they are. You may know about a few of them, but you may need the advisement of trusted friends or even a qualified clinical counselor to identify and locate the many other worms that are in your head. Trust me, there are many worms there, some of them even ‘sleepers’ that are just awaiting the NPD to ‘wake’ them.

Some of the common worms that the NPD places into the host/victim are thoughts like: incompetency, failing beauty, low IQ, inability to be independent, laziness, accusations of cheating on the NPD, not being lovable, being a liar or thief, and poor parent. All of these emotions-attacking-parasites are dedicated to the larger goal of having the host/victim hand over their ‘locus of control’. Because once the NPD has that, they essentially own you, mind, body, and soul….and the NPD then begins to consume even those.

But the NPD has one more trick, one more parasite: they plant the worm of intense rage and desire for revenge. This is the worm that lies dormant, often for decades, and is there as a fail-safe for the NPD. Should you ever decide to leave, end the relationship, escape, or purge yourself of the other worms, the revenge worm can be activated by the NPD to continue to get supply of reactivity from you (albeit negative reactivity, but ‘hey, any port in a storm’, eh?)

The NPD shaped the revenge worm by repeatedly doing and saying bizarre nonsense that was designed to knock you off balance and create in you small storms of confusion and anger, which, if you expressed, are met with apologies and soothing. Essentially, the NPD taught you how to store up all of your rage for them over a relatively long period of time, and regularly baited you to occasionally engage in sparring with them, letting you win small victories. And they full well know the game of tit for tat: they likely invented it. And you have been watching and learning from them how to be vicious for years, maybe even decades. Viola: they have created a perfect foil for their future supply.

Challenge the Worms

Recovery depends on your reclaiming your limbic system and regaining your locus of control by exercising logic and critical thinking. To do this, most hosts/victims need to physically get away from the NPD. This is why most advisors tell you to cut off all contact, because the NPD will try to get your worms to wiggle any chance they can get.

Sitting down with a pencil and piece of paper, write down as many worms as you can locate that your NPD has placed in your head. Keep this in mind when thinking about the worms: while yes, you do have character flaws and issues like everyone else in the world, what the NPD told you about yourself is untrue. Keep the list visible, like on the fridge. Each day, consciously challenge each of the worms; tell yourself forcefully, even aloud, that they are not true. Learn how to engage in ‘critical thinking’, read a book or two on the topic and practice, relentlessly.

‘Critical thinking’ is the ability to think about your own thinking. It applies solid facts and logic to process problems and theories. Remember, theories are not facts until there is enough evidence and proof to support them, and critical thinking provides the intellectual discipline and rigor to do that, beyond even a shadow of a doubt. And, it can be duplicated and affirmed by multiple other people or sources. The NPD, as you well know, develops a bizarre theory and then goes to selectively find (and fabricate, if need be) evidences to prove their theory correct. Anything that does not fit their theory is discarded, despite it being factual. Real science does the opposite: the theory is made, and then evidence is sought to prove the theory wrong.

It is important to note that most people in the world do not regularly engage their brains with critical thinking, even scientists make logic and critical thinking errors, that is why scientific theories and data often go through rigorous ‘peer review’ before being accepted in the scientific community. The upside is, if you learn to think critically on a routine basis, you will end up a healthier, more serene and satisfied person….and, it really pisses off NPD’s.

Purge the Worms

So, dear reader, here is the formula for purging the worms: whatever is on the worm list you made, reverse. And now go find evidence to prove those things wrong. Did the NPD tell you are ugly? Stupid? No one wants you? You are beautiful, you are bright, and many people love you. Now just try and find the evidence to negate those truths…you can’t. Surround yourself with only positive, walk only in the positive, reclaim the location of emotional control in your live; bless your survival.

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Comments 36 comments

Pat 19 months ago

With so many narcissists, and they all do the same evil things, how do they learn how/what to do to control or drive someone insane.

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krillco 19 months ago from Hollidaysburg, PA Author

No real research in this area that I can find, Pat, but my theory is that since there is virtually no empathy and compassion, there is plenty of room for other, devious and manipulative skills to fill the empty space. There also seems to be a natural kind of predator-instinct that may come to the fore when empathy is absent.

Jenny 19 months ago

I have started to hear and feel the jabs, deeper and deeper. I have to listen and hang on every sentence he says, but my response or opinion is either rudely interrupted or he doesn'twa nt to hear about it. I have said countless times that to listen to what I am saying validates me as an equal human being with my own thoughts and emotions. But, it falls on deaf ears. Things I've said in private have been put on blast for all to hear within a block radius. But to hear him say it, I do all the yelling and fussing. I feel weirdI ca n't win for losing. I can't say or do anything right. If he stops his toe, it's my fault. I feel like a doormat. All I need to do is lay in front of the door. That would save him time not having to crawl up my ass to wipe his feet in my face

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krillco 19 months ago from Hollidaysburg, PA Author

I am sorry to hear of your pain, Jenny. In all circumstances, it is healthiest for us to validate ourselves and not count on validation of others, including those we love. Know that there is recovery, but the first step is in the departure.

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Cerulean Crayon 19 months ago

I like this article. Thank you for giving it.

mimi 19 months ago

that is typically my dad is . i did not need to go away from him cause he got alzheimer s and that pushes him away from me.

Diane 19 months ago

Great article! ! This is exactly what I experienced and do. I hear most of his projections as projections now because I know they aren't true of me.

Do you think some N's are actually sociopathic and some just a little bit into that end of the spectrum tho? Do you think other disordered personalities do the same thing?

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krillco 19 months ago from Hollidaysburg, PA Author

Thank you, and yes, and yes.

Michelle 19 months ago

My question is this: Once you have found a way to escape from the NPD, how do you ensure you don't end up in the snares of another? I've been through two very volatile relationships, both which ended in divorce, and both were with someone who was NPD, among other things. I recently started dating again, and less than a month into a relationship, I realized the guy I was dating was behaving in a very similar manner to both of my exes. I just want to be able to build a loving relationship with a healthy man, and not worry if NPD is going to rear it's ugly head yet again.

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krillco 19 months ago from Hollidaysburg, PA Author

Miss Lou Lou 19 months ago

Thank you for a great article. They are SO LIKE AN EVIL WORM in your HEAD. SO BAD for your soul, self and mental health!

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momoftwoteenboys 19 months ago from PA

I loved your article it really made me think about the people in my life and how they treat me. i wish you the best. I am new to subpages but feel free to please check out my hubs and my website on my profile. You may enjoy the posts

Ariel Laur profile image

Ariel Laur 19 months ago from New York

I love your article. The parasite analogy is excellent because I can really picture what the narcissist doing. The concept of dormancy and the way you describe it is fascinating. I have never heard of this of this systematic way of challenging the worms but I would like to try it out. I am going to read about critical thinking as well. Your approach to this topic really helps in understanding a type of personality that often leaves me confused. Thank you for sharing all of this useful wisdom!

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Sam-ed 18 months ago

Worms great. Apt. Gross too. Parasite and vampire same thing.

I think it is high time to educate our girls especially , and the boys can be alerted to themselves and friends etc.

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Chuck Fasst 18 months ago from Portland, Oregon

"Any port in a storm." For sure. Any kind of drama will do. And those worms - they don't all go away.


Elle 16 months ago

How does one find /determine a qualified clinical counselor?

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krillco 16 months ago from Hollidaysburg, PA Author

Elle, here is a good place to start:

Jaime 15 months ago

I am finally coming to terms with the fact that this was what my mother did to me (I'm 36! It's taken a while for me to see!). Now, I am faced with protecting my 10yo daughter from the same thing happening to her (for a while I think my mother wanted to make my daughter her Golden child and me her scapegoat!) Now that I'm resisting, all hell is breaking loose. It's hard when the narcissist is a parent, and you find yourself grieving the loss of the parent you thought you had...but it was all an illusion. Thanks for this information, I'm seeking out everything I can get my hands on at this point.

Suzanne 15 months ago

No contact. No contact. No contact. This will give you clarity of mind to "pick apart the 'poo'" of the relationsh*t, and look for the tells that are glaring you in the eye now. The tells that you overlooked because of his love bombing. It's a difficult thing, but coming to terms that he is NOT who he appeared to be early on, is a deeply disturbed person and lied to you--that the whole thing was a LIE--will be the point at which healing can begin. Once that healing began for me, I had to look at some hard stuff within myself to see why I didn't call his bluffs and demand more detail while he was word-salading me and gaslighting me? Because I wanted it to be true, I was willing to believe his lie. Hard thing, but the only person you can change is yourself. I'm not minimizing the experience with evil, but to avoid this from happening again, I had to find out why I put up with his BS. Be strong, ladies. You can do it! And the real you will emerge.

TexasLady 15 months ago

I am with you Susana...That exact same thing happened to me...What you wrote is so spot on...

Christin 15 months ago

The last two paragraphs of the "Identify the Worms" section were so right, so powerful... a true "aha moment" in understanding the dynamic between the NPD and host. I've done so much reading on this topic and how found this idea to be so enlightening. Thank you for helping me to understand the how and why!

charlene 12 months ago

Thank you for this article. Critical thinking will validate your truths despite what the NP has tried to make you believe. Having read so much on this topic with some therapy to help get through this, your article puts what we go through in truthful and easy to understand terms for us and those outsiders who may not understand how to deal with an NP. Best understanding of how the space where compassion and empathy, missing in their brains, gets replaced with devious cold-hearted actions and words towards the victims. Well done.

ana 12 months ago

Im a survivor of a npd husband. Gone thru emotionally abusive 11 years of marriage and am out of it now. The blow to their ego is the best weapon against a narcissist. Give them a dose of their poison and they will despise you forever and seek another victim.

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Misfit Chick 12 months ago from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD

This was a really good description of what narcissistic people are like; and what happens to their victims, whoever they are. But the last part of this sentence is a little disturbing to me:

"The upside is, if you learn to think critically on a routine basis, you will end up a healthier, more serene and satisfied person….and, it really pisses off NPD’s."

I also grew up with a parent who had a personality disorder (not sure which one). The other one was an alchoholic. There was no way that I was going to grow up with a semi-normal outlook on life. In fact, I ended up with my own personality disorder as a result of my upbringing - which happens all the time, as you've suggested in here.

The reason my mom has a personality disorder was the result of people treating her like crap when she was growing up. I don't get along with her at all; and in fact, have hardly spoken to her this past year. But, I don't try to 'get back' at her in any way; because I know she had to deal with the same kind of people that I do - who helped make her like she is.

I hate the way I am and I feel sorry for her... Cycles need to be broken, and your worm erradicating idea is one good weapon to help with that. I just ended up not having kids, ha! I would have made as bad of a mother as she was.

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letstalkabouteduc 12 months ago from Bend, OR

Your hubs are so valuable to me's as if you've lived the exact experience as I've lived. They really make me feel so not alone and more empowered to take on the narcissist in my life ... who, thank God, is on the sidelines. You're so right about them accentuating any mistakes we make and then bringing them up again and again. I see that so clearly now, but I didn't see it at all for decades. Making mistakes, failing, experiencing setbacks were never part of the human experience in my growing up. They were just bad. Now, there's so much research that shows how important it is to fail, become resilient, and keep pushing ahead. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. You're definitely bringing peace!

LiteraryMind profile image

LiteraryMind 12 months ago from Connecticut, USA

What a great parallel -- parasitic worms and the words of a narcissist. I have read tons of articles on narcissism before, but this is so refreshing and clear in its presentation.

starme77 profile image

starme77 12 months ago

Good article I like the worm comparison - makes sense to me. Take a look at my article some time - the doctor in the video explains narcisist hy narcisist hate happy people pretty good observation as well :)

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Beaddoodler 12 months ago from Lubbock TX

I really like the mental pictures you draw. I was once a NPD victim. Thought I'd moved on, but the older I get the more I get sucked back in even though we've been over nearly 40 years. Thanks for the advice.

Stacy619 12 months ago

This is so true...I don't understand how they get so good at being such bad people. My dad and I think my mom are both Ns. It seems every man I date or marry are Ns too. I'm so scared now to get involved for fear that another one will grab hold of me. Mental and verbal abuse are so painful and it seems it never goes away.

I always hear my ex in my're going to fail at that like you have everything else your whole life...or I've had better. How can people be so cruel.

Ellen Zerba 12 months ago

Awesome article. I surely need tons of help. I'm stuck. I've been gone from my N for 5 years...married to it for 25. Still struggling to heal and have developed some weird , distressful residual personality disorders myself. I have a therapist but she is not trained for NPTSS. So, the worm analogy and the critical thinking exercises is something I have to try. Thank you a million times.

Mary 11 months ago

Helpful article. Helps me reframe negative worms drilled into my psyche. So essentially everything said with hate, although in my case covertly, I reverted to love. Many thanks. Recently separated from my ex, started divorce proceedings. Holiday booked and trying to maintain no contact. Information on covert narc behaviour, my faith, loved ones have got me through the worst of days. Stay strong all.

Helen Krummenacker 7 months ago

My narcissist was just a friend, but when health problems limit your social circle, it's easy to be vulnerable. The gaslighting was constant, but fortunately, I have some autism spectrum traits, and I simply felt confused as to how he could misunderstand or misremember so many things. On the other hand, he was constantly violating boundaries, and I wasn't alert to the possibility that he was outright deceptive and malicious for some time. It was hard to break away, but eventually, the malice lost subtlety and then I found out about NPD and everything fell into place.

Lily 3 months ago

This is an amazing article & ticked all the boxes. I never thought someone could be so hateful towards me. You live and learn.

krillco profile image

krillco 7 weeks ago from Hollidaysburg, PA Author

I'd like to thank those who have read and benefited from this article. I appreciate the support!

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Lisa Rombach 7 weeks ago

BRAVO!!! Truly great article and very different angle. One of my worms was, " You are only good for a couple of meals". I'm good for WAY more than a couple of meals. I left him months ago and have been rewriting over all those negative tapes and now I'm happy once again :)

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Icankbelandean 5 weeks ago from Indonesia

Really I like this article thank you vert much for share.

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