How Narcissists Play the Victim and Twist the Story
Framing the story
Narcissists also like to truncate the story and present only the bit where the aggrieved party reacted to their toxic behavior, framing it as if that’s where the story started (see picture).
Or they twist it by using euphemisms and deceiving language (“I’m not controlling, I just want what’s best for you.”).
For example, if a narcissist dislikes you and tries to bully you but you stand up for yourself, they will frame it as if they are the ones being a victim of bullying. In their narrative they were just doing their thing or joking around and you started being mean to them. Meanwhile, they simply left out what happened beforehand when they bullied you, so actually you “being mean” to them is a normal response to toxic behavior.
Here, by leaving out or downplaying their aggression they simply frame you engaging in self-defense as vile aggression against them. And then they think: “How dare you react or challenge me! You’re so sensitive and unfair! That’s why you deserve everything that’s coming!”
Slander, triangulation, character assassination
There are several ways how the narcissist employs their lies and projections, and the goal is always to turn others against you in hope that they won’t try to figure out the truth.
One of the ways to do that is triangulation. In psychology, it means controlling and manipulating communication between two parties. It is related to gossiping, smearing, and slandering, where the narcissist spreads false information around. A more extreme version of all of that is character assassination, where the lies are much more severe and damaging.
If you actually examine the narcissist’s narrative, you quickly notice that they are full of crap.
For instance if you examine a narcissistic parent who tells others how you hurt them and say mean things, you quickly notice that they are the one who constantly demeans, disrespects, and manipulates the adult-child. And when the child becomes more assertive and stops giving them resources (time, money, attention), they see it as aggression because they feel entitled to those resources.
If you examine further, you notice that not only the narcissistic parent was initially disrespecting the adult-child’s boundaries, but is also retaliating further now by manipulating others into siding with them.
The same is the case in professional environments or personal relationships. The narcissistic party does something toxic, the aggrieved party reacts and stops the perpetrator or distances from them, and then the narcissist retaliates by trying to shape the social opinion into a narrative where they are the good, righteous party. Sometimes they even convince others to bully and intimidate the victim further.
These methods often rely on the victim not having a support system or being isolated. This increases the narcissist’s chances of others siding with them and not with the victim.
Summary and closing words
Narcissists can’t accept that they may not be wonderful people. They are also incredibly fragile when facing an idea that perhaps they did something wrong, especially if others can see it. Therefore if there’s a conflict they will do anything and everything to maintain a fantasy that they are always good, all while perceiving the other party as evil.
Not only that, they need other people’s validation that their delusion is true. To achieve that, they create preposterous, slanderous, manipulative narratives where all of that is true and try to convince others of it. And since many people are unwilling and unable to look into the truth behind it, the narcissist can find that validation they so desperately crave and even act out their revenge fantasies. Often the reason is as simple as hating to see others doing well because they themselves are miserable.
As a result, sometimes people get seriously hurt: socially, financially, emotionally, or even physically. But the narcissist doesn’t care about that. In fact they are often glad, because in their narrative the victim deserves it by being “evil,” so whatever happens is justified.
Of course not everyone can see the truth when listening to the narcissist but it’s quite evident looking from the outside or if you have enough psychological insight and experience. And if you are wise and educated enough on it, you can avoid getting into these situation, minimize the damage, sever your ties with them more quickly, and protect yourself better.
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