You will be sitting next to you; one of your friends is one; one of your clients is one; one of your athletes is one; your boss could be one - A Narcissist.

Following on from my last blog - Have you ever wondered if you are a narcissist? I wanted to give you some more information. Information is power and forewarned is forearmed. Remember, the Narcissist will not recognise any of the following traits in themselves.

With this information, you will start to recognise them......everywhere!

There is a little giveaway sign with their eyes, but that is for another time.

Background to a Narcissism

Narcissism is based on an inflated “false self”, which has developed as a result of a developmental arrest in childhood. As a child, the narcissist withdrew inwards and resorted to grandiose fantasies of being superior, special, perfectly loved, self-sufficient and self-important.

This behaviour was to cover the vulnerability, self-doubt and worthlessness that was at their core.

To keep their grandiose “false self” alive in their mind and their fears of abandonment at bay, they are in constant search for sources of narcissistic supply -  an abundant “fan club”. This will supply them with positive attention, adulation and appreciation. If that is not possible, then fear from others will suffice.

The more damage they sustained in childhood, the larger the grandiosity and the more severe the Narcissism and the more 'donations' are desperately needed from others to keep propping up the fantasy self. Emotional pain dominates their internal landscape. They may project arrogance and charisma, but underneath they feel unworthy.

It is a constant and exhausting endeavour as they continually seek to manipulate others to give them the required fix. They will do anything to get it and will not let people’s feelings or the truth get in the way.

To keep this all going internally, they use a combination of six defence mechanisms.

Narcissist Defence Mechanisms

1. Splitting.

Splitting means they fail to regard anyone, including themselves, as a composite of good and bad. Instead, they see everyone as either “all good” or “all bad”. The Narcissist is “all good” of course and you as their colleague or partner begin by being “all good”. This has  them idealising you and internalising you to support their grandiosity. However, as soon as you fail to do this, you become “all bad” and they immediately devalue you, with the resulting that punishment is metered out to you in various forms. Please do not get emotional at this stage. They have no or little empathy.

2.  Dissociation & Altered Perception. 

Narcissists often recall things very differently from healthy people, or fail to remember things at all if they do not resonate with their superiority. Remember to back things up with a confirmation email. Any verbal conversation will either be forgotten or twisted.

3.  Rationalisation.

Rationalisation is the assertion that a flaw does not exist, or if it does, it is not the Narcissists. 

“There is nothing wrong with me. I never have problems.”

These rationalisations can be very convoluted and obscure, as they often fly in the face of observable facts.

4. Projection.

Projection is the curious strategy whereby the Narcissist is subconsciously aware of what they are in fact doing to themselves, but they project it onto you, with the result that you then get blamed for exactly what they are doing themselves and they cast themselves as the blameless victim.

5. Denial.

Denial is simply the assertion that something is not so when ordinary observation or common sense confirms that it is, in fact, true. Anything that does not reinforce their grandiose image will be denied. 

"The Emperor has no clothes and he cannot be told."

6. Blame Shifting.

Blame Shifting is what happens when the Narcissist insists there is nothing possibly wrong with them, so all the blame must be attributed to you or everyone else in the world. If you challenge them or criticise them, then expect it back in spades. They will shift up a gear of attack against you. Never criticise a narcissist. Use another tactic.

7. The Hook

Finally, the hook. Remember, the narcissist felt vulnerable and had self-doubt when they were younger. So at the core, there is an inbuilt fear. They have a need to control everything and everybody around them. This acts as a protective barrier against attack. So they use their 'hook' to control you and everything. This can be a verbal hook, a visual hook, an email hook, a text hook or even a physical hook. It is a hook that locks into you that they can then use to control you. So think carefully, where you sit at your next meeting when there is a narcissist around the table. Do you want to sit opposite them and let them get their visual hook into you?

Forewarned is forearmed. With the above information and being aware of possible hooks and defence mechanisms, you are now fully equipped to handle future situations.

If you find yourself in a difficult situation or need some help or some strategies, please contact us.

Source: Hart