It’s not nice to call names. But when it comes to narcissists, calling them out is really a matter of survival for those dealing with their abuse, as well as for those who don’t understand the profound harm they do. All narcissists wear a mask, or false persona. And when you strip away the narcissist mask you find weakness and vulnerability that would be pitiable if it weren’t so astonishingly vicious.
The Narcissist Mask
But chances are you won’t ever remove the narcissist mask, because he defends it at all costs with a full arsenal of preemptive controlling and abusive tactics. Whether as a young person overvalued with excessive praise and indulgence or undervalued with neglect and/or abuse (or an impossible combination of those parenting styles), the narcissist is in essence an emotionally stunted child with an adult savvy for ruthless manipulating. The narcissist mask is what he wears to assert a face of superiority and entitlement, protecting himself from intolerable feelings of invalidation, otherwise known as “narcissistic injury.”
The Narcissist Bully
Narcissists are classic bullies. They ambush, attack without cause, and prey on the most vulnerable within their grasp, usually those who love and depend on them, namely their spouse and children, who as a result carry lasting emotional and physiological trauma.
Narcissists often also abuse employees, susceptible friends, and “underlings” such as waiters and clerks. Exploiting their power over others in any way possible feeds their endless need to feel superior, and their lack of empathy gives them free range to abuse without the troubling hindrance of a conscience.
The Narcissist Coward
Many of us come out of invalidating (sometimes severely) home environments, but we do not become compassionless sadists. Narcissists are cowards who are fundamentally terrified of themselves and anyone who might see through their mask. Their driving motivation in life is to shield themselves from threatening emotions that trigger their deep-seated sense of inferiority, or narcissist injury.
Often narcissists strike and run, initiating surprise attacks and retreating before being confronted with the consequences of their rage. Narcissists also may behave passive-aggressively, cloaking their rage in self-pitying performances meant to induce guilt and blame.
Whatever hurtful tactics they use, narcissists virtually never take responsibility for their behavior. Instead, they are masterful at denying and projecting their abuse onto others, most often those they have abused, further exacerbating the harm they do.