Playing with a Narcissist? - Don't Expect to Win
Fold Your Hand and Walk Away
It's estimated that 1 in every 25 people is a malignant narcissist. What this means is that they have no conscience or empathy.
They are much like sociopaths in that they commit unspeakable acts, with no regard for the pain they cause. They are adept at ruining reputations, relationships, jobs and marriages. Their capacity for destruction is seemingly unlimited.
However, they are deeply concerned about one thing. Their own social standing is of paramount importance. This is part of what makes them so dangerous. They seek to elevate themselves at the expense of others.
Narcissists are insanely envious. If you have something, they want it. Because it already belongs to you, it's even more desirable.
Imagine having a $500 bill and a $5 dollar bill. The larger denomination is lying on a table. It's not clear who owns it. You're holding the smaller bill in your hand.
Which one is more attractive to the narcissist? The one in your hand, even if it's not worth as much.
But that's crazy. Yes, it is. It's absolutely nuts. But so is the warped world of a narcissist.
A Narcissist Knows How to Play Her Hand
The Sociopath Next Door
What is Malignant Narcissism?
Malignant narcissism is considered a "Cluster B" personality disorder, a category that also includes borderline, histrionic, and anti-social personality disorders. It's considered incurable and there's no treatment.
Actually, it's believed talk therapy makes matters. That's because malignant narcissists are clever enough to fool the most jaded of therapists. They'll also use these sessions to gain added insight into the human condition. This arms them with even more psychological weapons.
However, therapists don't treat many narcissists. Instead, they see the people abused by them.
To better understand how prevalent antisocial personality disorder is, I highly recommend the classic book, The Sociopath Next Door, written by Dr. Martha Stout, PhD.
Narcissists Wear a Mask
The Warning Signs of Narcissism
Lay people cannot make a formal diagnosis of narcissism. The professionals often have a hard time as well, as a hallmark of the disorder is deception.
However, you don't need a degree to discern a person's character, in order to decide if this is someone you'd like to spend time with.
But there are some distinctive traits of someone with a malicious personality disorder. Grandiosity, lack of empathy and an over-the-top sense of entitlement are some. Malignant narcissists, or psychopaths, tend to look down upon others.
They believe they are elite. So they let you into their world, for a time. Eventually, they'll tire of you and discard you. Typically, this is done in a sadistic fashion. As the relationship unravels, strap on your seat belt. This is when you can expect a narcissistic smear campaign to kick into full throttle.
Narcissists have trouble regulating their anger. If confronted, they'll throw a temper tantrum, as they turn the tables and blame you. Psychologists call this "narcissistic rage."
People Who are Bad for You
A Narcissist's Deception
Truth to a narcissist is a very fluid concept. It takes the shape of the vessel that holds it, and it's constantly shifting.
Lying is easy and natural to someone with a personality disorder. They may repeat their lies, exaggerations and half truths so many times they start to believe them.
If locked into a battle, you can never win. Narcissists are connivers. They always have an edge. That's because they're able to make others believe their baloney, no matter how outrageous.
Many professionals, from psychiatrists to police officers, have been taken in by these con artists. They are often referred to as socialized psychopaths because of their superb acting skills.
One of the best books ever written about this disorder was authored by the late Dr. M. Scott Peck, MD. It's called People of the Lie and it aptly describes the inner workings of people with a propensity for doing evil.
Narcissists are Skillful Actresses
A Narcissist has Your Number
Narcissists are very good at sizing people up. They possess superior, almost superhuman, insight into our wants, needs and fears. So they toy with us.
Normally wired people don't operate this way, and their conscience would also prevent them from doing so. That's why playing a cat-and-mouse game with a narcissist is always a bad idea.
Even if you were willing to stoop to their level, you'd still lose. That's because a narcissist is so adept at manipulation. With a seemingly infinite capacity for evil deed, he or she (many narcissists are female), will launch a series of sneak attacks designed to keep you off balance.
You'd never be able to keep up with a narcissist. Nor would you want to.
Narcissists Can't be Trusted
Competition that Knows No Bounds
A narcissist plays to win. If they set their eyes on something, they are single minded in their pursuit. They won't stop until they get it. They'll use every under-handed device possible to attain their goal.
They'll put aside everything else to win. But is that something you want to do? It's really not worth it? You're never going to beat a narcissist at his own game anyway.
Coping with Narcissists
What is Gaslighting?
One of the cruelest weapons in a narcissist's toolbox is a psychological warfare technique known as gaslighting. This term comes from a 1940s screenplay of the same name starring Ingrid Bergman. The plot line is of a deranged husband trying to drive his wife around the bend.
He rearranges things, and then denies he did so. One of his moves was to tinker with the gas lights, located in the attic, while his wife was up there looking for something. Of course, he didn't own up to this.
A malignant narcissist uses a number of gas lighting techniques to destabilize his prey. For instance, she'll devise an elaborate scenario using a third party. First, she'll lie about you, so the other person thinks you've done something. If they have personality issues themselves, they may decide to mistreat you.
Then, if you happen to complain about this, the narcissist, who pretends to be your friend, will get indignant and insist it's your imagination. It's you with the problem. You need to stop being "so sensitive."
Narcissists and Manpulation
Do you believe you can beat a narcissist at her own game?
Yes, There is One Way to Win
Have you ever heard the expression, "Living well is the best revenge." Perhaps the person who coined this phrase had known a malignant narcissist.
Adopt the "no contact" rule. This means not calling the person who's hurting you, and not returning his telephone calls. The same goes for email. Use the delete button. Don't even read them. Better yet, use the block feature so you don't receive unwanted emails.
Don't ask others how the narcissist is doing either. No contact means just that.
If you're religious, you can still pray for this person. Actually, that's is a good and healthy thing to do because it helps your healing process.
A narcissist craves attention. Ignoring the narcissist, and cutting him out of your life, serves a dual purpose. You'll save your sanity and you'll begin to rebuild your life. It also sends a clear message that he or she is no longer in control.
For Additional Reading
- Dr. George K Simon, Author, In Sheep’s Clothing- Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People
- A Narcissist's Enablers are Guilty
This article explains why enablers of narcissistic abuse are not so innocent.
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