What narcissists what they say vs what they mean

  • “Think of the children” = Think of me
  • “You are so selfish” = You are not giving me enough attention, time, money or adoration
  • “You made a fool of yourself this evening” (after a social engagement) = You took the limelight away from me – how dare you
  • “I’d love to but…” = There is nothing in it for me/I can’t be bothered
  • “Stop showing off” = Stop trying to take the attention away from me.
  • “That person is an idiot” = This person is highly intelligent and I feel threatened by her/him
  • “This person is a complete attention seeker” = This person is in competition for attention with me and I do not like it at all.
  • “Such a person said that I am the best cook/singer/musician/actor/politician etc.” = Lie, this is something that a non-narcissist would ever say (even if they thought it)
  • “You said that you loved me” = You cannot stop taking excessive care of me and my needs.
  • “How could you do this to me” = I am the victim here and it is ALL your fault even though I was abusing you
  • “you are so selfish, think about the children” – Who is going to mind ME
  • “We had it so good why do you have to go and destroy it all” = you were such an easy person to manipulate and an excellent source of narcissistic supply, how can you possibly leave me
  • “You have gone mad? You need to go to therapy” = It is really upsetting me that you want to stop serving me in the way that I have become accustomed to
  • “You are completely crazy?” = you are beginning to see the real me
  • “I just want what is best for you” = I just want what is best for me/I demand that you put my needs before your own
  • “I know everything that is worth knowing” = I don’t know about the subject that you are referring to, so I will dismiss it as irrelevant
  • “I just want to help” = I just want to interfere in your life
  • “I love you” = I want you to love me and give me all your attention and resources
  • “I love you soooo much” = you are really easy to manipulate and are good at providing me with the attention and resources that I want, I am manipulating by giving you the “validation” you want
  • “I was just joking” = I was testing your boundaries, I realise I pushed too far, but that is your fault
  • “You are so sensitive” = You are not supposed to reply in a negative way when I abuse you.
  • “Stop acting the victim” = You are not supposed to notice that I am being abusive
  • “The sacrifices that I have made for you” = I might have done something for you that wasn’t absolutely in my own interest, it still upsets me.
  • “You are so ungrateful” = You are not being a good enough audience for me. Up the praise level.
  • If you suggest that you are going to do something nice for someone else to a narcissist, such as visit someone in hospital or buy them a wedding present their default reaction is to block you and they will say things like “they said that they didn’t want visitors” = I don’t want you to visit them because I have no intention of doing so and if you go it will make me look bad/ don’t buy them a present it will only embarrass them = I don’t want to buy them a present, I cannot be bothered and so I don’t want you to either.

Stock defence phrases from a narcissist in an argument

  • “You’re being irrational” = You’re “making” me look like I am in the wrong
  • “You should see a shrink” = Stop being rational
  • “You’ve got a very lively imagination” = I don’t like what you are saying so I will discard it as fantasy
  • “I don’t recall it happening that way” = I am not going to admit to any fault
  • “Why are you being so aggressive?” = stop defending yourself
  • “You always say that” = I didn’t take your argument on board the last time and I am not going to consider it this time either, it doesn’t suit me.
  • “Why do you always have to be so immature?” = Don’t try to draw me into a rational argument/this is a no go area
  • “I am not yelling I am just telling you” = I am yelling
  • “You need to communicate more effectively” = I do not like what you are saying
  • “Why do you always have to pick fights?” = It is really annoying when you pull me up on my bad behaviour
  • “I am just going to assume that you are premenstrual!” = I am going to discard anything you say
  • “I am just going to assume that you are over tired” = I am going to ignore you
  • “Yeah right”, “Oh sure” = I am not going to respond to you in a way that can further this discussion
  • “You are not in a stable state of mind at the moment” = I am not going to respect anything that you say
  • “You’re mad, crazy, depressed etc.” = I don’t have to listen to you
  • “I met so and so the other day and s/he said that you were acting in a really weird way” = I am drawing in invisible backup with lies
  • “You have no friends for a reason” = I have no friends
  • “Now look what you made me do!” = I know I did something bad but it is your fault
  • “You have changed a lot you are not the person that I married” = I have moved into the demeaning part of our “relationship”
  • “You are always so controlling” = don’t play my game with me
  • “We only get invited to these events because everyone loves me, you should be grateful” = I am more important than you

Not everyone has a conscience and the ability to empathise

There is a common myth that everyone has a conscience and the ability to empathise.  This is not the case with people who have narcissistic personality disorder, sociopaths and psychopaths.  People who are involved with narcissists find that they are being manipulated and devalued which leaves their victims feeling worthless, panicky and often suicidal.  If you approach your abuser and let them know that you are “in trouble” the narcissist will take the fact that their partner is feeling suicidal and use it to garner sympathy from others for being a “tolerant, loving person having to put up with a suicidal maniac”.  They will always couch their concern in loving terms so that it looks like empathy, they know that this makes them look good but in reality they are doing it to  harvest attention  and to create an image for themselves, they will not do anything to change their behaviour, will treat you like your suicidal “weakness” is just another of your failings and will further alienate you from any support system you might have.

Their manipulation is psychologically and emotionally devastating and can leave lifelong emotional scars especially if you have been narcissistically abused by your parent(s).  Their abuse, like most abusers is done face to face behind closed doors or by a smear campaign behind your back.  Because narcissists believe their own lies, they will use charm and charisma while they are cruelly annihilating your reputation and are very convincing to any audience.

Survivors frequently blame themselves because they are not really sure what they have just experienced and are reeling in a state of hurt and confusion.  Once you learn the language and the dynamics of narcissistic abuse you will have to tools and knowledge to heal, to be aware of other predatory types and the ability to better take care of yourself.

These individuals transcend gender, socio economic groups and race.  They are masters in the art of manipulation, they use punishment and narcissistic rage to control people.  They have absolutely no sense of loyalty, will betray the trust of those close to them without any remorse and will verbally attack at any time, but in particular when you are low for example just lost a job, lost a loved one or had any sort of tragedy in your life this is don specifically to up the destruction and devastation in your life, they do it when you are down because it is easier for them to upset/hurt you.  They will do this just because they have a strong sadistic streak and humiliating and abusing other people amuses and gives them a sense of power.

The tools that they use to degrade others include:

  • Sarcastic comments
  • Sneering
  • Condescending comments
  • Negation of any achievement (even a well cooked meal)
  • Overt insults and name calling
  • Stonewalling/The silent treatment
  • Sulking
  • False cruel laughter to ridicule
  • Deliberately humiliating you in public
  • Negating comments or observations you make
  • Blaming
  • Shaming
  • Going into a rage any comment that they perceive puts them into an even slightly bad light

The narcissist will take and use anything that you might have confided in them and use it against you.  They harvest the information by putting on an act of being trustworthy and concerned about you so you are open with them.  They will then use your vulnerabilities to hurt you in the future, they have no limits to what they will use to inflict pain. Inflicting pain makes them feel powerful and they will use it to diminish and belittle.

Since pathological envy is an inherent part of the narcissistic personality disorder they will negate or diminish anything that you might accomplish.  Frequently they will claim it as their own “the only reason that you could do that is because I helped you”, or they will steal your opinions and ideas and then tell you about them as though you are too stupid to fully understand.  They will laugh at your dreams or aspirations, they will tell you that you have a horrible personality they will claim that any social life you have is directly attributable to their charming and fascinating company.  They will destroy you in every way that they can think of, they have to be the winner in your relationship and the only way that they can do that is through sabotage, corruption and nefarious means.

After the ideation stage the narcissist will oscillate between making kind gestures and being narcissistic, this is another form of manipulation because it is very destabilising (it would be much easier to come to terms with if they were nasty all of the time).  They will use your desire to get back to the “nice part of them” to keep tugging at your puppet strings.  Nothing you do will ever be good enough at this stage and if they do act nice they will make it very clear that it is because they are nice, not because you deserve it.

Parental Wounds

Our Parental Wounds are traumas that have been chugging down the line through the generations for a very long time and are issues that our fore fathers and mothers have not examined or tried to heal/change or resolve in any way. They just kept perpetuating unhealthy cycles of behavior and belief systems.  The wounds that are played forward include toxic and oppressive beliefs, toxic practices/rituals, completely dysfunctional ways of relating to family and friends and dysfunctional coping mechanisms to deal with pain, suffering and rejection.  They can also include racism, bigotry, homophobia and religious fanaticism.

Parental wounds are inflicted by:

  • Shaming their child so they feel that they are not good enough, that something is fundamentally wrong with them and that they are unlovable.
  • Comparing their child to others in order to belittle them, so that they feel that they are not good enough and never will be
  • Criticising their child in front of others
  • Devaluating anything that their child does so it is either ignored or dismissed as unimportant and a non-achievement, this can range from a drawing to getting a degree
  • Splitting siblings so that they cannot form a close bond
  • Interfering in relationships with 3rd parties
  • Telling their child what they can and cannot believe/think
  • Brainwashing their child by constantly repeating the same negative messages
  • Telling their child what the can or cannot feel
  • Not letting their child express their emotions in any way, such as fear, sadness, pain but also happiness, joy wonder and curiosity
  • Ignoring or “not allowing” their child to be physically sick. Such as sending them to school with a temperature ignoring symptoms of an illness or not attending to broken bones
  • Refusing to comfort their child when scared or in pain
  • Withholding affection/attention
  • Denying their child opportunities to grow and develop in life skills/hobbies/education and sport for no good reason
  • Blaming their child for their own short comings and mistakes
  • Frightening their child through threat of abandonment or putting them in physically dangerous situations
  • Never listening to their child
  • Withholding information from the child
  • Never playing with their child
  • Not bonding with the child
  • Parentifying the child


Gas lighting is when an abusive person tries to shift your perception of events so that they can undermine your confidence.  It makes you question yourself (as the narcissist will give their version of events with absolute unwavering certainty) and this uncertainty will make you much easier to manipulate and abuse.

Gas lighting comes in many forms such as moving or taking your things or telling you that they told you something important when they didn’t.  If you confront them on it, they will say things like “it is not my fault you have a bad memory” or “you cannot expect me to be responsible for your things”.

The natural default position of narcissists is to lie about everything.  Even when the truth would have served better.  It is a way that parent(s) create conflict between their children, the way a narcissist will split their friends and colleagues, and will wear down their partner.  They will lie about what other people said and did, what they have done, the intensity of their relationships with various people, compliments that people have paid on brilliant accomplishments etc.  They will lie to justify their actions, lie to deny other actions, lie to protect themselves if they feel that there is even the slightest threat to their perceived unblemished public image.

They are masters in the art of lying, s/he does it with total confidence and completely without shame.  It is for this reason that narcissists pass lie detector tests.  There are no sweaty palms or an increased heart rate as they probably believe their own lies.  If you pick her up on a lie and give a factual version she might say “that is what I said”, so you are wrong again.  If she cannot back out she might say that she “might” have done something but it will be followed by “I have no memory of it” or “that really doesn’t sound like me” or “I wouldn’t do something like that – why would I?”.

They also use your insecurities against you.  They will find out what you are unconfident about listening to you with feign concern and then they will use those very insecurities to bring you down (“Anything that you say can and will be used against you”).  They can do this by saying that someone said something about you like “so and so said that you are really unstable” or “so and so is so interesting” inferring by inflection that you are not.

They will repeat their lies over and over again so that you actually start to believe them, they will also tell the same lie about you to others, so that the people who believe them will treat you “as if” and this will further send their negative lies about you further home.

They will diagnose you with having major issues around trust for example when you question their lies, or for being depressed or paranoid because their abuse it getting to you.  Very often a narcissist will suggest therapy for their victims to sort their issues out, the narcissist will rarely go to therapy, but if they do it is just for show and they will finish after a few sessions saying that their therapist said that there was nothing wrong with them, the fault lies with you.

You start to lie to keep the peace, this is because you feel like you are walking on eggshells with the narcissist because they flip into rage.  The narcissist expects you to live by their rules and any behaviour that you do that they see as not in their favour will make them attack you (they do not have to abide by the same rules, because they are better than you).

After narcissists have got sufficient information to use against you they stop listening to you, because what you want and need is completely irrelevant to them.  So for example they might say “shall we invite six people here for dinner tomorrow?”, if you say “no not tomorrow, I have a long hard day at work” half an hour later they “will say I have invited them and they are all coming” you say “I asked you not to” they will say “well I cannot un-invite them, that would be really rude”.  The narcissist will also then expect you to cook the dinner.  The effect of being constantly ignored is that after a while you stop trying to be heard because what you say or want does not matter to them.

The narcissist will also throw a “bad behaviour” of yours (that might or might not have happened) at you in the middle of an argument to bully you into doing what they want.


Why it is so easy to gaslight a child?

A child’s relationship with their parent is not an equal one.   Children are frequently referred to as hostages to their parents in the literature about dysfunctional parenting.  All of the power is in the hands of the parents and where there is total power there is also the potential for abuse.  Parents not only “rule” the household but they also tell their children (either directly or indirectly) how to interpret the events, people and places that are around them.

This makes gaslighting a child very easy.  Children look to their parents for an understanding of how things work.  From social/relationship situations to using domestic appliances.  For this reason it is easy for a parent to take their vulnerable child and manipulate any given situation to be seen through their own perspective, thus gleaning solidarity from their children, giving the parent control and getting reinforcement of the parent’s perspective from their children (even though they were told what to think).

If a child is feeling unloved, they will do anything to get their parent’s love, if it means denying their understanding of “what just happened” (even if it was a physical action and they saw it with their own eyes), then that is what they will do



Most commonly found acronyms in literature about narcissism


ASPD – Antisocial personality disorder

BPD – Borderline personality disorder

CBT – Cognitive behavioural therapy

C-PTSD – Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

FM – Flying monkey

FOC – Family of choice

FOO – Family of origin

GC – Golden child

HPD – Histrionic personality disorder

LC – Low contact

MN – Malignant narcissist

NC – No contact

NF – Narcissistic father

NM – Narcissistic mother

NFIL – Narcissistic father in law

NMIL – Narcissistic mother in law

NPD – Narcissistic personality disorder

PTSD – Post-traumatic stress disorder

SG – Scapegoat

TF – Toxic father

TM – Toxic mother

TP – Toxic parent


Boredom, drama and self-deception

The narcissist’s brain served human kind well in the long distant past.  It is completely selfish, reactive and lives in the moment (no capacity for future planning).  That was great when we were more “primitive” and constantly under attack from predators. It is a primitive primeval brain that is focusing on getting what you can get (from others), where you can get it and by whatever means.  This type of behaviour simply isn’t appropriate any more.  It is an attitude for the unevolved; people without a sense of community or society, with no emotional intelligence or conscience.

They genuinely do not know what is going on in their own heads and can flip and contradict themselves in an argument without even noticing that they have done it.  Deep down they must know that they are not who they say they are, otherwise they wouldn’t need such a highly charged and explosive defence system.  No one with a true sense of self would think that it was okay to put on haughty airs and graces, acts of grandiosity, arrogance and constantly state that they are superior to others.

Narcissists have completely numbed out from their emotions (with the exception of emotions like anger and jealousy).  It is as though someone has pressed their emotional mute button.  As a consequence, they do not have access to the colourful emotional palette that the rest of us experience.  They completely miss subtle nuances in communication between people, they are never absolutely certain about how they should act and are hyper vigilant about taking cues from others.  Because they cannot feel they are never satisfied so they are either on a perpetual quest to find admiration or drama of some sort.  The drama always has to be turned up high, because that is where they get their buzz.  If getting drama into their lives involves abusing someone (either to their face or behind their back) starting gossipy rumours or doing something illegal, it is deemed okay in the mind of the self-righteous narcissist because they are always right.  When face to face they get satisfaction from seeing pain on someone else’s face after they have offended them in some way and many narcissists prefer the look of pain to happiness, because pain makes them feel powerful, whereas happiness could be just seen as the other person being in a good mood.

The reality of course is that they narcissist cannot love themselves and as such they can only “love” their projected image and to do this they have to be masters in the art of self-deception. Part of this self-deception is being very judgemental and using their projected low opinions of others as a tool to buoy their own fragile ego up.

If someone even accidentally says or does something that the narcissist finds offensive, they will go on a “counter attack” with a ridiculous amount of rage.  Because narcissists are so fragile, those around them will usually try to avoid confrontation and stay away from controversial arguments and opinions.  So they stay with superficial topics and ideas because it is just not worth arguing with the narcissist.  Their inability to delve deeper into their conscience and their lack of curiosity also feeds their boredom.  They do not have an “inner life” as such.  For them it is all about maintaining their self-image and being judgemental and critical of others. It is not good enough for a narcissist to be good enough, they always have to feel that they are vastly superior to others, as you can imagine this takes a lot of work, which is one reason why they are so determined to preserve their false persona at all costs.

They will often talk about something with total conviction that they know absolutely nothing about.  They may try to give lessons to a French teacher in their woefully poor French and be oblivious to how inappropriate they are being.  They might assume path finder on a mountain trek without having any idea where they were or where they were going.  Reality, and what they are actually capable of doing are completely disconnected.  However, they will enjoy the drama of getting lost on a mountain at dusk, pretending that they are in control, and bickering, all stories long and short will be shared about the “adventure” at a later date.  The conviction with which they say that they know what they are doing makes people believe them, why would you say something like that unless you were absolutely sure, the answer is attention, it is always about attention.