8 thoughts on “A Narcissist’s Hidden Shame

  • September 28, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    This is interesting, possibly because I sympathize with Angela here — which makes me worried since, well, if this is “narcissism,” then maybe I’m a bad person.

    But you know, from my point of view, the anger at being “exposed” and getting empathy doesn’t so much come from a threat to some nebulous “identity” as it comes from a deeply rooted, well founded fear that the other person is trying to draw me out and make me look weak so they can slip in the knife.

    And this is not an unfounded fear — if you are raised being consistently mistreated in some way, part of the fear and touchiness can very often be that your pain is found “funny” by those around you. If they can make you hurt visibly, then you’re the butt of the joke. This means that when people try to draw you out and get you to admit you are weak or hurting, your first instinct is to cover up that soft spot and defend yourself for all you’re worth because THEY ARE TRYING TO MAKE YOU WEAK SO THEY CAN HURT YOU WORSE.

    Maybe this isn’t true with some people, but hey, the last dozen times you were stupid enough to believe them, that’s exactly what happened so instead, you lash out to stay safe. It bothers me that this is being cast as something shallow like “you are threatening their identity of perfection because they are broken, screwed up narcissists.” No, you are threatening THEM and their safety because if you were raised being victimized all the time, that’s precisely what it always was.

    Angela may see herself as under threat when someone tries to empathize and get her to admit to weakness because, for a lot of her life, that’s precisely what was done. So now, she reacts with anger and hair-trigger self-defense.

    I can also see how it can turn into what you might want to call “narcissism” because if you are being hurt all the time and no one seems to care, or they find it pathetically funny, you can spend a lot of time telling yourself, “I HURT AND NO ONE SEES IT.” This can surface as “NO ONE SEES ME.” Thus, you spend most of your life trying to make people see you and acknowledge that you MATTER, damn it.

    Anyhow, I think that the end result — acknowledging the pain, the injustice of it, and how much hard work and strength it must have taken to survive it — is probably the best thing to give under these circumstances. The thing is, it’s not only the best thing to give a “narcissist,” it’s the best thing to give to anyone who has suffered that sort of consistent violation: acknowledgement of the burden and the heroic nature of living an effective life despite it. Why is the need for this being sullied with the bad-person label of “narcissism?” Everyone is fighting a hard fight in life — can’t people just say this to one another?

    • September 28, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you for your insights. I don’t see narcissism as either good or bad, just a way of explaining the nature of a person’s personality.

  • September 29, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Well, given that so many other articles on this site are devoted to the hideous, monstrous hell that is a narcissist, perhaps a little description of precisely what is meant by narcissist might be in order if it’s truly “[n]either good nor bad.” From where I’m standing, I’m thinking that the main factors appear to be:

    1. Someone who needs an inordinate amount of external validation, and
    2. Who views other people’s private motivations as mostly deserving of suspicion.

    Neither of these has malice at its root and sometimes are the end result of other people’s cruelty, so maybe we’ll need to do a little work to make the definition clearer, and maybe talk about it in slightly less “avoid these monstrous nightmare humans at all costs” terms all over the rest of the site?

    • September 30, 2017 at 8:19 am

      I, and other psychcentral authors, have written numerous articles clearly defining narcissism. This piece is meant in addition to, not exclusive of, those writings.

  • October 2, 2017 at 8:30 am

    One thing I learned about narcissists is that they like to have total and complete control over your mind and actions. They fake the fact they care about your well-being, when in actuality they’re against you spiritually. The narcissist I learned will keep your brain spinning day in and day out if you allow them. The narcissist will keep you on your p’s and q’s mentally because you know in the back of your mind all narcissists can’t be trusted and they’re quite arrogant as well.

    Narcissists are also people that like to show off in front of others and act normal behind the scenes when no one is looking. Those types of people really need to go back to church and discover themselves spiritually because they don’t know themselves. They’re so used to being a narcissist they don’t even know when they’re being narcissistic. That’s pretty sad, isn’t it?

    Another thing I learned about narcissists is that they have serious emotional problems. They try to get people to think it’s all about them because the narcissist May allegedly have emotional problems such as the inability to maintain a healthy personal relationship with their companion. The Narcissist may have been single for quite some time and unable to attract a potential husband or wife. The narcissist is frustrated because not only are they single, but no one wants them as a long-term companion. So they take out their frustration on others and put others down whether it’s a family member, employee, or whoever.

    Narcissists are also narcissistic because of their past wrongdoings. If a narcissist has done so much wrong in the past and gotten away with it before people, that shapes their attitude toward people and spirituality. They have a distorted perception of everything. It’s a sad truth as the narcissist can change his or her way of thinking through prayer and seeking spiritual help for their soul salvation. Even if the narcissist is in an authoritative position, they need help regardless and still have hope they can get back on track with making healthy spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental changes.

  • April 8, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve noticed as narcissism in society increases, professionals have backed away from acknowledging the profound destructiveness of a narcissist’s behavior. Narcissists are capable and have fooled many therapists, that is when they even go to therapy. They don’t think anything is wrong with them, its always someone else. Just their lack of empathy alone wreaks havoc in any relationship, let alone the constant demand for attention, for being considered superior, for expecting that everyone around them bend to their whims. Oh, they can be charming, accomplished, intelligent. But what does that matter if you consistently hurt people, never take responsibility for it, and have no qualms about using people just to get what you want? Those from the “they are deeply wounded” school fail to acknowledge that their woundedness-if it even exists-is not other people’s responsibility to heal or fix. Even if someone genuinely loves them, they treat that person with contempt and often bring them to such self-doubt, hurt, and fear that that person then is the one in need of help more than the narcissist. It seems therapists, for the sake of professional credibility, don’t want to admit there is really little they can do for a narcissist. This story you shared shows an incredibly self centered woman who would do anything to twist people into what she wants. Plenty of people have been abused in all sorts of ways and do not become narcissists. Where is the evidence in your story that even this “abuse” is real? The husband is one of those people who is willing to go to any lengths for another person, as long as they think they are “helping”, but I wonder how much a person like that is sacrificing their well-being, not to mention the well being of children with a parent like that. Sometimes its just called “enabling”. There is nothing wrong with advising people to just avoid narcissists-their best hope of ever changing is life-changing trauma, as you said. But that almost never happens because they are so good at deceiving people into relationships, as well as manipulating people into feeling sorry for them. They always have a source of support, attention and caring that prevents them from ever having to face who they really are and deal with it.


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