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
  • Stalking

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
  • Depression
  • Confusion, lack of motivation
  • Self-doubt
  • Difficulty focusing/concentrating
  • Lack of appetite or comfort eating
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol
  • Mood swings
  • Vomiting
  • Panic attacks
  • Social anxiety
  • Suicidal ideation

Betrayal Trauma




If you are involved or have been involved with a narcissist the probability is that you have or will have betray trauma at some stage.  This betrayal can range from stealing ideas in the work place, making snide remarks behind your back to friends and family, being suddenly dumped by a partner that you loved and trusted someone who goes from being warm, caring and engaged to being a cold sadistic stranger or realising that you were the scapegoat in your family and that is why other family members are so hostile for no apparent reason, annoyed with yourself because you trusted them for so long, when there was no evidence at all of the “love” they claimed to have for you.

The intensity of the trauma will be related to the intensity of the relationship.  Some acts of betrayal are just very annoying and can make us angry because it violates our sense of justice.  Others however can have an impact that has both a psychological and physiological impact.  Even the strongest of people are left feeling shattered after they have been betrayed and it takes time to heal from this trauma much more time than pop culture would have us think, you can’t just “move on”, you have to do some work first.

Here are some of the signs that you might have betrayal trauma:

  • Confusion and disbelief
  • Anxiety hyper reactive to stimuli
  • Churning the relationship over in your head day in day out trying to make sense of it all
  • Feeling worthless and empty inside
  • Loss of self-confidence/socially very anxious
  • Complete shift in your perception of the world at large
  • Feeling of having been cut loose or unearthed
  • Long periods of crying uncontrollably
  • Insomnia even though you are exhausted
  • Hyper sensitive to noise
  • Rapid weight gain, or loss
  • Nausea, headaches, dizziness and feeling weak
  • Flu like symptoms, when every part of your body hurts
  • Oscillate between crying and wanting to vomit
  • Vivid dreams when you can sleep
  • Grieving the loss of a relationship that was never really there or genuine
  • You feel very isolated
  • Life loses its meaning

Slowly you will rebuild a sense of self and your confidence will return again.  When you have been betrayed by a narcissist there is a lot of self-criticism for having been so naive and gullible.  It is important to show yourself compassion at this time, it is not your fault that a narcissist abused your trust as it is very hard to conceive that anyone could behave like that towards someone they said that they loved.

Recovery after having been betrayed does not happen in a straight line.  There will be good days and bad days and sometimes it will feel like you have gone back to square one, but all the time your energy levels are rising and you might not notice your daily progress but your mind and body are working night and day to understand what just happened and then make the necessary repairs to make you feel whole again

Authentic Vs False self


There are several ways that you can distinguish between someone who is being sincere and authentic and some who is presenting you with a mask or false self.  Below is a list of some tell-tale signs that someone is presenting with an image rather than an authentic personality.

Authentic self traits: 

  • Are energised, awake and aware of who they are and the effect that they have on others
  • Have good clear communication techniques where their language, body language and intonation all relay the same message
  • Are empathetic, kind and co-operative
  • Are aware and respectful of the needs, dreams and can see perspectives other than their own
  • Are honest, open and have integrity
  • Expect equality in all relationships that they enter into
  • Have a strong sense of justice and decency (will always try to do the right thing)
  • Can spontaneously express their emotions in a balanced way
  • Can genuinely relate and form bonds with others
  • Are able to judge without being judgemental or critical
  • Can forward plan and postpone immediate gratification if they perceive it as unfitting for the moment
  • Spiritually in tune and aware
  • Consistent in their values and ethics (they apply the same values to themselves as they do to others)
  • Constantly curious and are growing through learning and experience
  • Genuinely enjoy other people’s happiness and success
  • Are not interested in gossiping about others

Unauthentic or false self 

  • Have low energy levels, walk around as if they are in a dream and have virtually no self-awareness or the effect that they have on others
  • Are very poor at communicating, can completely contradict themselves in a very short period of time, leaving their listener feeling confused.
  • Their language, body language and intonation all contradict each other
  • Are completely lacking in empathy, very reluctant to meet the needs of others unless they stand to gain something
  • Usually unaware of the needs, dreams and perspectives other than their own and they are strongly disinclined to learn what they might be
  • Are pathological liars, are very secretive/closed  and are open and are corrupt in their thoughts and actions
  • Expect to be treated as a superior in all of their relationships
  • Their sense of morality is for how they think others should treat them. The same rules do not apply to them and will always do what they think serves their own needs best at the time.  Will have absolutely no qualms about doing something that hurts someone else
  • Will constantly be looking for cues from other people when it comes to “expressing emotion” so that they can decide how to “play it”
  • Have absolutely no capacity to relate to others and find it impossible to form genuine bonds and relationships
  • Are hyper judgemental and critical of others
  • Cannot forward plan and are only interested in immediate gratification no matter what the consequences
  • Are spiritually dead although they can use religion as a leverage for feeling superior
  • Highly inconsistent in their values and ethics (they do not apply “rules” to themselves as they do to others) and these can vary hugely depending on the company that they are in
  • Have no curiosity and do not feel that they have to make the effort of developing and improving themselves (they think that they are already perfect)
  • Genuinely enjoy other people’s defeats and failures
  • Love to gossip about others, especially when it is malicious


The dynamics of a dysfunctional family


All dysfunctional families have one or two disturbed parent(s) who “run the show”, this can be one parent or a power struggle between the parents (including step parents), each jostling to take control and therefore escalating the level of psychosis within the family unit.

The struggle for power happens between parents in the same way that it does whenever a narcissist is trying to dominate by

  • Name calling
  • Lying
  • Triangulation
  • Verbal abuse
  • Lack of respect for boundaries
  • Invalidation of emotions
  • Neglect

These parents between them will allocate specific roles for each child within the family.  So, a daughter might be “daddy’s girl” and as a result despised and envied by her mother, the mother’s golden male child might be the father’s scapegoat and so forth.  Each role is accepted and reinforced by each and every member of the family.  The most destructive role given within any dysfunctional family is that of the scapegoat (and there can be two scapegoats with in the same family) one for each parent.  The scapegoat is seen as not really being part of the core family, but rather someone who is forced to take on all of the pain and anger within the family and narcissists are very good at redirecting anger, especially to the more vulnerable and sensitive children.

The siblings that have been selected as part of the core family will openly be given permission to treat the scapegoat child(ren) any way that they want.  This includes merciless bullying, stealing or destroying possessions, sneering, name calling and in general being physically and emotionally violent.  In fact, the parents can often actively encourage bullying because:

  • It means that they can divide and conquer their children if they are living in fear.
  • They feed off others emotions even if it is negative.
  • The bullied child will deal with the immediate dangers of being bullied rather than look at the dysfunction of the family unit
  • A bullied and scared child is much easier to control than a confident secure one.

Offspring of narcissistic parents are not valued\validated or respected by their parents, so they are delighted to have children who they can bully, control and feel empowered by the role that being a parent offers.

If you come from a dysfunctional family it can literally take years to realise that the way you were treated was abusive and the only reason it felt normal was because they were all behaving in the same way – it couldn’t possibly be that they are all wrong and that you are right, could it? The scapegoat gets the most overt abuse, but everyone in a dysfunctional family is abused.

Over time and as the children get older the behaviour changes, although the underlying dynamic remains the same.  “Accepted” children will stop pulling your hair and breaking your toys but will generally move towards verbal, emotional and even financial abuse (if they can get away with it).  Verbal abuse will be reinforced/supported by the parents to ensure that that child does not move out of their designated role.  By the time that the children reach adulthood their behaviours and habits have been so well policed and practiced they will feel absolutely normal. It will feel absolutely normal to disrespect others, sneer or attack their reputation.  Not just within the family unit, but of anyone who feels like the slightest threat.  Similarly, it will feel absolutely “normal” to move into abusive adult relationships where the disrespect continues.  Children from dysfunctional families will have very poor boundaries and therefore it is difficult to know what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

Over and over again the child will be told who “we” are and who they are.  So “we” do not like certain types of people or things, “we” dismiss anyone who does not comply with “our” family narrative.  So much so, that the child/adult child completely loses sight of who they are and what they want in life.  Paradoxically, this is especially true of the children who have been designated more privileged roles.  They see themselves as superior, more than a little special and definitely entitled.  As a result of this they identify very strongly with the projected image of the family rather than develop their own identity, this can leave them floundering whenever they are outside their comfort zone, whenever they are in a situation where they have to compete as they feel that they should be given what they want just by showing up.   Very few privileged people see privilege as a gift, they see it as their right, they are constantly conditioned to think that all that they have been given is their due.  This can cause them to behave in a heartless way such as sending their once over indulgent but now aging parents to nursing homes because they are in the way/annoying or too much trouble/physically unattractive.

Dysfunctional families will often recommend that one member should go into therapy (because they are unstable and crazy) and then immediately discredit the therapist as an idiot if they say something that the family doesn’t like.  The child that the family recommend go to therapy is often the one who needs it least.  Any child who even vaguely attempts to criticise the family’s perfect image, will be met with aggression and utter contempt and an attempt (or several attempts) will be made to discredit the alternative to the family narrative and to pull the wayward family member “back into line”.

The process of recognising such family dysfunction is slow arduous and painful, most of us shy away from it for years because the reality of the situation is too painful and because we have been trained since infancy to protect the reputation of our family image at all cost.

All of the accepted family members will happily isolate, keep secrets from, belittle, sneer at and ostracise the ones who they deem “not to be one of us”, the dysfunctional parent will actively encourage this demonization so that the remaining family members will know what will happen to them if they dare to step out of line and therefore will enforce the absolute authority of the parent(s).  This treatment of the ostracised family member will continue even after the child has become an adult.  They will be blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family, be subjected to relentless smear campaigns to the extent that that family member will feel like they are the crazy one.  It is like a laser treatment it can have as many channels of attack as there are family members and includes members of the extended family too.

The family members who wake up to the dysfunctional dynamic of their family will often have to work for years to gain self-esteem and confidence as they have been brain washed into thinking that they are worthless.  Brainwashing does not have to be clever it is simply the constant repetition of the same message by someone you thought that you could trust.  Your parents/family.  The general overall message is “you are worthless I need you”, “I have all the power, but you must take all the responsibility” (even though you are a very young child).

Most commonly found acronyms found 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

The most common characteristics of abusers

  • Abusers abuse sporadically because they know that if they were abusive all of the time, people would distance themselves from the abuser and the narcissist cannot bear to be alone.
  • They might only abuse very few people. Those people tend to be kind, generous and sensitive to the needs of others and give too much.  They can also be people who are in a vulnerable position such as those with no family support, in poverty or a foreign national trying to fit in an unfamiliar country.
  • Abusers will go out of their way to appear normal and will probably go to a lot of trouble to self-promote, this self-promotion will generally be vocal but it can be in the form of making gestures such as turning up to help with the school fund raising event, but usually their contribution will be minimal.
  • The push relationships too far. They always want more than the abused person wants to give, but they also want the abused person to take more than they want to take.  This comes in three forms 1) they tell the abused person who they are (according to what the narcissist wants them to be), this changes depending on the circumstances of the abuser, 2) they are too intimate too quickly and assume a more intense relationship than the other person is ready to have, 3) they will bestow presents/money etc. whether the other person wants it or not and will then expect that they have purchased favour/multiple favours.
  • They use their voice to control. Most narcissists are very loud or very quiet.  Loud voiced narcissists use their voice to dominate any conversation, quiet voiced narcissists use their voice so that the person that they are talking to has to lean into them and block out any background noise.  They also use it to express rage so that they can intimidate or embarrass, in particular, but not exclusively in public places.  They also use the “silent treatment” (lack of voice) to manipulate another person (make them feel invisible).
  • They use body language as a weapon, They can bristle with hostility, twitch with anger, ignore eye contact or look bored and annoyed when another person is talking, they can roll their eyes or simply get up and walk away from someone without reason.  They can also physically push in front of another person, physically touch them in an inappropriate sexual way or simply to claim dominance such as pushing them forward into a space/room.  This is to claim ownership and to let the other person know that they feel they can touch them where ever they like and ignore personal boundaries completely.
  • If the victim is unaware of narcissistic abuse, they can project good intention and can remain unaware of the abuse because they will see it as “having a bad day” or an isolated incident from a grumpy person.  They can fail to see the pattern and make excuses for the abuser and take inappropriate responsibility the abusers actions.  The victim is unaware that although the abuse can cease for sometimes long periods of time, the abuse is relentless and will never stop.
  • The abuser may apologise, but it is never sincere, just a means to an end, to stop the victim from shutting them out. Narcissists are master thespians, so the apology might appear to be authentic, but it never is.
  • The abuser will also make a lot of false promises such as “I am so sorry, I will never do that again (hit you, cheat on you, be verbally abusive to you, embarrass and humiliate you in public)”.  It is not true, they will they get a bit high on the pain/embarrassment/humiliation they cause, it makes them feel “big”.