What’s Behind the Narcissist’s Mask?

What’s Behind the Narcissist’s Mask?

What’s Behind the Narcissist’s Mask? 1A new study reinforces what many of us who deal with narcissists already know:

1) Narcissists tend to be less trustworthy, less loyal, less accountable and less remorseful than others

2) Narcissists tend to be more deceptive, more manipulative, more antagonistic and more vindictive than others

In some cases the gap is huge. Drawn from a study of 14,000 people, an analysis of 403 participants with distinct traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder found that narcissists are six times more likely to be deceptive, four times more likely to lie, and three times more likely to be antagonistic and vindictive than non-narcissistic people.

The study is a portrait of the many ways narcissists tend to posture and shape themselves — while at the same time using others — to shore up a fragile sense of self.

For example, the study found the following percentages of narcissists who do the following behaviors, compared to non-narcissists:

Narcissists Non-narcissists
Point out others’ mistakes, no matter how minor 73% 7%
Strongly believe they are superior to most people 84% 3%
Prefer to associate with people who are successful or popular 84% 7%
Cast aside anyone who doesn’t live up to what they want 69% 5%
Change their appearance, personality and opinions to be accepted 62% 18%
Seek to be the center of attention 80% 10%
Endlessly seek reassurance they are liked 60% 16%
Become defensive when given negative feedback 61% 32%
Refuse to acknowledge or admit when they are wrong 67% 16%

“Being a narcissist is likely to be a tiring and draining endeavor, emotionally and psychologically. It’s like wearing a mask all the time,” said the study’s author, Ilona Jerabek.

Here are three ways to cope with the manipulation and pretenses used by narcissists:

1)  Don’t expect them to change. They may change behavior from time to time, but someone with narcissistic personality disorder is unlikely to change their personality. What you see is what you get.

2) Don’t take their blaming and lack of accountability personally. Their actions are designed to gratify themselves and keep others from seeing their flaws. It’s all about them, not you, so how can it be personal?

3) Do ask yourself: “At what cost? There is nearly always some cost when dealing with narcissists. Only you can decide whether the cost in any given situation is worth it.

 

Photo by Mike Focus

What’s Behind the Narcissist’s Mask? 2

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12 Ways Narcissists Behave Like Children

12 Ways Narcissists Behave Like Children

12 Ways Narcissists Behave Like Children 3

Narcissists’ behaviors can be mystifying and maddening if you expect them to consistently act like adults.

Though narcissists can behave like adults much of the time, when they feel embarrassed, ignored or inferior they may revert to a childlike state, acting like children during the “terrible twos.”

In a way, this regression makes sense. Narcissistic personality disorder or a narcissistic style often develops due to early trauma or family influences that can leave aspects of a person stuck at an emotionally young age.

For example, picture a young child caught with his hand in the cookie jar when told to wait until after dinner. Children respond to such situations with one or more of a dozen instinctual responses. By the same token, adult narcissists use sophisticated versions of these same childlike responses.

As you read through the following examples, you may want to think of a narcissist in your life and note any similarities with how the narcissist you know responds when feeling stressed, slighted or thwarted.

What a child caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar might do

1) Deny they did it

“I didn’t eat one. I was just looking for later.”

2)  Blame someone else

“But sis said it was all right and she had one too.”

12 Ways Narcissists Behave Like Children 4

3)  Pretend they don’t know what you are talking about

“What cookies?”

4)  Throw a tantrum

5)  Say they had no choice

“I was so hungry I couldn’t help it.”

6)  Recite good things they have done

“But yesterday I put all my toys away. Aren’t you proud of me?”

7)  Cry or act like a victim

“You’re so mean to me. It’s not fair.”

8)  Hide or run away

12 Ways Narcissists Behave Like Children 5

9)  Try to charm you

“But I love you so much, Mommy.”

10)  Change the subject

“Can I go outside and play?”

11)  Ignore you or stonewall

12)  Get mad at you for catching them

“Stop spying on me!”

 

Such childlike responses bear an uncanny resemblance to the key tactics narcissists use to avoid responsibility and manipulate others:

  • Denying
  • 12 Ways Narcissists Behave Like Children 6Blaming
  • Pretending
  • Acting out
  • Making excuses
  • Seeking credit
  • Playing the victim
  • Running away
  • Charming
  • Distracting
  • Stonewalling
  • Attacking

Recognizing the childlike nature of narcissists’ responses can empower you when dealing with narcissists. The next time you find yourself confused or on the defensive by a narcissist’s behavior, envision him or her as a two-year old in an adult body. Doing so can give you perspective and allow you to respond rather than react.

If an adult narcissist acts like a child, perhaps you need to treat them as you would a child. As an adult or parent, you can see through children’s attempts to avoid blame and shame. You don’t take it personally but you also set healthy limits, as that is in their best interests as well as yours.

The difference with adult narcissists is they have more power than children. Their tactics can affect you and pose danger. You have to choose your responses wisely. Here are some strategies that can help:

Give them choices

If you take your child to a crowded restaurant when you’re in a hurry, you give the child choices. Instead of asking what they want to eat, you say “Do you want pizza or a PBJ?” Similarly, suggesting options or choices to an acting-out narcissist may let them think they are in control but can move the situation along.

Have realistic expectations

You don’t expect a small child to act in a mature adult fashion. Similarly, you are generally not likely to go wrong by underestimating a narcissist’s level of maturity. You don’t have to tolerate abusive behavior. But expecting emotional maturity from a two-year-old — of any age — will just leave you frustrated.

Don’t take it personally

You don’t take a two-year-old’s pouting personally. They are in the throes of emotions they haven’t yet learned to contain or soothe. Similarly, narcissists generally cannot contain their feelings when they are embarrassed or disappointed. Recognize that they are awash in emotions that to them are so huge they cannot cope in a mature fashion.

 

Photo credits
Upset princess by MN Studio
Tantrum kid by Lorelyn Medina
Covering ears child by Sharomka
Steaming mad boy by Pathdoc

12 Ways Narcissists Behave Like Children 7

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