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10 Weapons A Narcissist Keeps In Their Toolbox

Updated on December 19, 2014
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A Little About Narcissism

Narcissistic personality disorder is a very misunderstood, cunning and often overlooked personality disorder that is very common and difficult to understand. Every person has some level of narcissism. A certain amount of narcissism is healthy. Although typically seen as a high level of “self-love,” narcissists have a false sense of self-love. They see others as extensions of themselves in order to feel superior. In reality, they hate themselves.

1.) Gaslighting

Gaslighting is perhaps the most mind-boggling tactic of the narcissist. It is meant to cause the victim to question his or her sanity and perception. There are a variety of ways a narcissist gaslights their targets, both mentally and physically. Gaslighting involves denying that something has happened, when it clearly has happened. This is done to protect their abusive behavior and to cause the victim to question their sanity.

2.) Triangulation

Simply put, triangulation involves turning people against each other. This is done for a few reasons, but the main purpose of triangulation is to prevent those being triangulated from discovering who the narcissist is; from coming together to compare stories that would reveal what the narcissist is doing. By creating conflict between family members or friends, the narcissist can continue their abusive behavior. This is often seen in dysfunctional families. The narcissist often turns siblings against one another or turns a majority of the family against the scapegoat, going out of their way to make the scapegoat appear “crazy.” In intimate relationships, this can include turning their partner against their family or their own family against their partner (victim).

3.) Projection

Projection is the process by which the narcissist accuses others of behaviors that the narcissist in fact is guilty of, whether it is lying or being manipulative. They project their bad behavior on to the victim directly and behind the victim's back (to friends, family, associates); gossiping about this person to others, accusing them of wrongdoing.

4.) Scapegoating

Narcissists tend to create at least one scapegoat. In dysfunctional families, in which one or both parents are narcissists, the scapegoat is the “black sheep.” However, scapegoats can also be created in social circles or in the workplace. The scapegoat is the main target of the narcissist. Most often, the scapegoat is created because this person is a threat and initially, is usually the most truthful and emotionally healthy. The narcissist goes out of their way to destroy this person. The abuse the scapegoat endures is intense and debilitating. Victims of scapegoating usually either act out the projections or internalize it. Narcissistic parents begin creating the scapegoat very early, planting seeds of disapproval and shame. They withhold love and affection from the scapegoat. Their love is very conditional when they do express it. In social circles and workplace situations, the scapegoat is the target of gossip and smear campaigns.

5.) Smear Campaigns

When crossed or questioned (or, when they just don't like someone), narcissists are known to initiate smear campaigns. The smear campaigns are done in a way that portrays the narcissist as a victim. They will lie and twist the truth in order to turn others against the one they are running a smear campaign against. They will alienate the target and ensure others have nothing to do with this person.

6.) Thought Policing

Narcissists will pretend to care and act as a confidant. They are wonderful actors and study the behavior of others to appear sincere. They will ask questions and prompt others to share their problems and secrets. Their motive is not out of concern. When you confide in a narcissist, they are gathering information to later use against you. Narcissists do not keep your secrets as you would expect a trusting friend to do and they often share these secrets with others.

7.) Lying

Narcissists are very skilled liars, often times doing so in a very calculated manner. They take bits and pieces of the truth and twist it to their advantage. Other times they make things up, especially if they know the lie they tell cannot be found out. This is especially true if they are gossiping about someone to others that they know will never see this person. They lie to build themselves up, to harm others and to protect themselves.

8.) Silent Treatments

The narcissist is notorious for punishing people with silent treatments. This allows them to shame and guilt the person. Often the person being punished by the narcissist will not understand what the narcissist is upset about.

9.) Devaluation

Narcissists are very prone to jealousy and envy. They will devalue the accomplishments of others, especially of scapegoats. If they feel someone is a threat, they devalue this person in general, talking negatively to others behind this person's back. Other times they will give backhanded compliments or focus on the negative when someone is experiencing success or when they are discussing achievements. If someone is experiencing success, the narcissists will turn this around and accuse this person of being selfish or narcissistic for talking about it.

10.) Seeking Pity

It is very common for a narcissist to seek pity, especially when confronted with their bad behavior. They have a tactical gift for making their victims feel like the bad guy and turning themselves into the victim.

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      Polly 2 years ago

      A great contribution to the discussions on narcissism that are cropping up all over the Internet. The points here about smear campaigns and projection really ring true. I had a friend at work who treated me badly - I had a difficult situation going on in my life (a sick family member) that she couldn't handle hearing about, so she forbade me from speaking about it! Not long after that some of my other friends in the office started pulling away from me, even giving me funny looks and abruptly going quiet when I came up to them. Fortunately, one of them finally told me that "friend" #1 had been bad-mouthing me to people in the office! I had not complained about her pulling away to anyone, but she was trying to make me look bad to others because of what she herself had done! My other friends eventually came back to me, but the whole thing was so upsetting. The thing is that she is not someone I would ever have pegged as a narcissist. It's become more clear to me over the years, and I stay away from her. Can't even stand to hear her voice because now I hear how false she is.

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      Traci Dillard 2 years ago from Texas, US

      I've been through similar experiences with narcissists that weren't family. You have to be extremely careful who you share anything personal with. Since I've learned about narcissism and healed, I can spot the behaviors really quickly; maybe not immediately, but pretty quick and as soon as there's a red flag, I back off and cut off communication. The biggest red flag I notice is they like to disrespect your boundaries. Thank you for sharing. I'm sorry you experienced this and it is difficult at work, because it can seem like you're stuck.

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