The core essence of being a narcissist is contingent on the fact that they are bullies. Bullying comes in many different guises, they are:
- Verbal bullying
- Physical bullying
- Emotional bullying
- Isolation bullying
- Extortion bullying
- Cyber bullying
The reason that people bully is because they are carrying a lot of shame and anger which in turn makes them feel powerless and fearful, in the distorted thinking of a narcissist’s mind, hurting someone else makes them feel powerful and in control. Bullying however, is in no way a show of strength it is a sign of an underlying deep seated sense weakness. A strong well balanced person does not need to hurt or demean someone else to feel okay about themselves, they are sufficiently grounded in themselves to not lash out at or abuse someone else to feel “better than”.
So how does it happen, that someone who is weak can bully a stronger individual. There are a number of techniques that are used
- A bully will attack when they perceive that another person is “down” for some reason, they might be new in the job and unsure of their role, they may have had a divorce or just moved into a new area. In school a child might be physically smaller for her age group or over weight. A bully zones in on the weak point and relentlessly repeats the same message over and over again to enforce an insecurity and create disharmony. It is not clever or sophisticated it is just repetition of a mean judgemental sentiment. It is important to note that narcissists are cowards and do not bully people who are on a level standing with them whether that is financial, physical or well supported by their family and community.
- They will recruit an army of supporters of their own so that the target of the bully has nowhere to turn to. This is done by gossip, providing false information, performing practical “jokes” to humiliate and isolate their target. The recruited very possibly have no idea that they are being manipulated and will fully support the narcissist for what they think are the right reasons.
- They can launch a verbal attack on you out of the blue, so you never know what it is that they are accusing you of. This sort of attack is projection, they might have had a massive fight with their partner who accused them of things, but since a narcissist is never wrong, suddenly it is your fault that their partner (who you might have never met) is angry with them. You will never know the background story, they will just hit out in anger.
- We have all seen videos where a kitten will bully a Great Dane, it is not because the kitten is stronger than the dog, it is because they repeat the same action over and over again. The Great Dane knows that it could kill the kitten with one shake of its head, but it doesn’t because it is only a tiny kitten. It works the same way with bullies, the minute that the meet resistance they hold up the feeble, weak victim flag and suddenly the bullied person is supposed to back down. Bullies trade on the fact that other people will be much better behaved, more polite and sensitive to others than they are.
- Physical bullying is also a weakness and comes in many forms such as when an adult tickles a child until he cries, that is not playing that is a show of physical domination, there is a lot of rough housing among children that it is healthy, however there is a turning point when it becomes abuse. Physical bullying frequently happens amongst adults too. It is not always in the form of hitting or pushing, it also happens when someone violates your private space and shouts into your face.
- All bullying is confusing to the target because it is usually illogical and always abusive. For example, a girl could be bullied in a group of friends because she is very beautiful or always gets good grades, what is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing unless you are around narcissists who can only see things from their own perspective and so the beautiful, intelligent girl will “make” them feel ugly and stupid. It is important to note that a narcissist will very often think that another person did something (like being born beautiful) deliberately just to make them look/feel bad about themselves.
When a person is unable to share their feelings with someone else and they get the usual feedback of “oh I am sure that they didn’t mean it that way”, “you are being too sensitive”, “it was probably just a misunderstanding” it can leave them emotionally exhausted and scarred. Research has shown that people who are persistently subjected to abusive behaviour are much more at risk of stress related illness. Most of the research has taken place in childhood bullying and has shown that children/adults who score highly on ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) or CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect) are significantly more likely to get serious illnesses later on in life such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. If one child has been singled out to be bullied is in a family of origin, it causes anxiety for all of the children in that family just being a witness to the abuse of their sibling, for fear that the bullying behaviour might be turned on them, but also from the guilt and shame that they did nothing to intervene and stop the bullying of their brother/sister.
Bullying has no boundaries and can be redirected at any time to anyone, it can come in the form of constant erosion of someone’s self-esteem through snide comments, put downs and name calling to physical contact with a victim, it can be short term or go on for years as in a family/partner situation.
The effects of bullying are:
- Low self-esteem/confidence
- Constantly anxious and on high alert
- Confusion, lack of motivation
- Difficulty focusing/concentrating
- Lack of appetite or comfort eating
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Social anxiety
- Suicidal ideation