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NARCISSISTS -how to identify them

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Do you feel controlled? Are you aware of emotional blackmail? Do you enjoy the right everyone around you has? Do you have equal financial input with your partner? Do you feel free...while enjoying being with a partner?

It seems more common nowadays to read threads here about their narcissist partner and what can they do about it. Seems clear to me that in past generations narcissism was more readily accepted, when the male was the boss and the female was the homemaker. While those days have passed it wasn't really that long ago, two generations or three and so the fallout, the continuation of the domineering partner hasn't caught up with society changes in this regard. These domineering types were children when raised voices and firm bossy directions were the norm, listening to their parents and learning the same rituals. They saw it as 'normal'. Fast track 30-40 years and the nature was bred into them, they became the same or a milder version.

A similarity is the relative introduction of sexual harassment in the workplace. Companies brought in these rules. Suddenly the worker were watched intensely for any untoward behaviour. The rules are good but the worker couldn't catch up to the changes and found themselves disciplined for breaking such rules.

The narcissist has a need to control. I noticed recently a male friend regularly kick his wife's leg under the table everytime she made a comment he didn't like. He also refused to apologise to her- ever. In front of us he claimed an actor had died, the actor acted in MASH and he told us who the actor played. But he was wrong. His wife told him " it wasn't that guy" but he shut her down. After I proved to him who the actor did play, no apology came. He would never allow her that dignity as it would mean a chink in his armour.

I grew up with emotional blackmail. My mother would say "if you don't make your bed I'll tell your father". This might seem futile but it got worse as we grew to the point at me at 27yo..."if you don't break off with that girl I'll pack my bags and go for a holiday..you can fend for yourself". 27yo!! But there was more. At 29yo and getting married my mother and I had an argument. She had all the Tupperware from a party she held, for my future inlaws. "You wont get it until you apologise." I attended mothers home with police to collect others Tupperware items. Her comment in front of the police "it didn't need to come to this". But it did!

Do you know other examples?  Tony WK

4 Replies 4

Community Member

Hi Tony.  My parents were control freaks, plus the narcissism, plus alcoholism, boy didn't I do well.  Growing up, though I didn't realise how dangerous they were until I was able to compare them to other parents.  A girlfriend once told me (when I was about 10 or 11, that my mother loved me),  huh, what a laugh.  I knew by then I was not wanted, I'd actually been told.  However because narcissism was way out of my vocabulary (and everybody else's), I just accepted that I was a 'mistake'.  Narcissism is not easy to spot to the untrained person because it takes so many different forms.  I had, like you, the old, 'I'll tell your father on you', when I was growing up, who didn't?  I feel narcissism is mainly because the person with the disorder is so emotionally insecure and jealous, this is the only way they know to take back the control, they feel is theirs by right.  Once you recognise the person with the disorder, knowing how to cope with it is the next hurdle.  That, in itself, is a whole new chapter.  Keeping away is a good idea till you know how to deal with it.  What they say behind your back, and to others won't affect you, if you're aware and can prove them wrong.  Watch them squirm like worms when they're confronted with being told, 'you're wrong'.  That's when they usually dig themselves deeper, trying to put the onus on others to make themselves appear the victim.     

The more we learn about this disorder, the more interesting it becomes to hear the 'horror' stories about the people with the disorder.

I fear narcissists and narcissistic behaviour. Especially the confident and seemingly competent ones.My first instinct is always is to listen and obey. The voice of authority, whether they have actual authority or not. I fear them because of self-betrayal. That I will let myself down, by immediate compliance and then the endless rumination later of "how pathetic was my reaction there, I'm a loser and I just proved it, again" My eagerness to please is still in my DNA, though some members might find it hard to believe on this forum.

Not sure my problem is only related to narcissists though. Confident people catch me off guard. Confidence (which is lacking in me) is like a magnet with a powerful gravitational pull. I am of course more onto BS and people pretending to be confident, these days. But still opposites attact in my view. We less confident folks will always feel we are being sucked into the vortex of confident types whose agendas are not always noble.

Yes, Pipsy, coping with the narc is another story.

So we identify the "narc" by odd persistent manipulative behaviour with a towering over you persona. Naïve I was, it took me till my 50's to identify my mother as one. Was I naïve? or was she the master of all Narcs? The latter I feel and with some slow maturing emotional development on my part.

I'm a strong believer of owning your own responsibilities including mental illness. eg I asked my mother many times to find help, seek a doctor and I'd attend with her. We know the chronic BPD person will be in denial most times and with luck they might seek help for a short times until they decide everyone else has the problem (including the psych!!). This is well documented under Dr google.

For those not inflicted with this master controller of all people around them you can read Dr Christine Lawson's "walking on egg shells" book. Or easier still google "witch queen waif hermit". Briefly these 4 characters the chronic BPD person might have (or 2 or 3 of them) sees them switch from one character to the next instantly depending on the perceived threat or desire to maintain control. The witch ill stalk you, revenge you at any cost, the queen owns you and you must obey, the waif will cry uncontrollably to another so they control their prey and the prey obeys and attacks you and the hermit will threaten to disown you so your fear comes and goes. Ad all that to an innocent child and you are not being parented, you are living an unpredictable nightmare. Nervousness is the first sign, being jumpy as you try to predict the instant yelling/rage, fear as you near perfect day is ruined as dad arrives home only for stories to be exaggerated and suddenly you have lost the heart of your father.

After many tries to get someone you love to get treatment and denial is ingrown there comes a point of decision, to persist if you can which is likely to mean you can tolerate them (and some can) or you move on without them in your life. The latter I suggest is more common when you have serious mental illnesses yourself highly likely originating from being a child of a narcissist or BPD parent. Google "children of mothers of a borderline personality parent"

But in fairness there are many BPD/narcissistic people out there that might or might not be parents that are inflicted with this hard to treat illness that seek help. To them I bow to you...but get help for the long term and keep your loved ones close.

Tony WK

I agree living with someone who has NPD is 'mission impossible'.  As you get older, if you recognise your nearest and dearest has this disorder, you try every conceivable idea to get help to cope.  Getting them to admit it is also 'mission impossible'.  The first thing is trying to get them to admit they need to see a Dr/specialist.  If you act/say as they do, this causes so much strife and tension, it usually backfires.  Once they realise their families and friends are giving them a wide berth, sometimes then they admit there's a problem.  Even then, though they'll still deny they're 'the problem'.  Occasionally an NPD will go to the Dr for an unrelated problem, the Dr (if they have a suspicion) might start asking certain questions relevant to the actual problem.  If they can get the NPD to react accordingly, that's when the Dr will try to arrange treatment.  It takes a genius to get an NPD to face up to this disorder, though.   Often a loving child or spouse can help by spending hours learning about the disorder, then learn how to deal with it.  It's almost a life time dedication to both help the sufferer and those around them.  Good luck to all who know and deal with it.  I take my hat off to you.  The more we learn ,perhaps the more we can help.  Any form of mental health is terrible both for the sufferer and family/friends.  Please, those of you who are suffering, get help as soon as you suspect something's wrong.