The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
It's not uncommon for people dealing with narcissistic persons to realize - especially over a period of time - that little by little the narcissist has assumed control over every single aspect of their lives. The narcissist dictates what people are allowed to do, say, think and how they are allowed to behave.
This is not unlike some of the behavior of parents, for example, or other people in authority - though of course, reasonable people in authority don't dictate how people should think. However, none of the narcissist's "rules" have anything to do with what is right or moral. They have to do with only allowing behavior that makes the narcissist look or feel good. If a behavior that makes the narcissist look or feel good is also morally wrong or illegal, they will generally not have a problem with it. Their compass is not moral. It has nothing to do with morals or what is right.
How they may go about assuming control differs from person to person, but generally it has to do with emotion. Narcissists are ruled by their emotions and they attempt to rule others with them as well. They use their own emotions and the emotions of other people to control and manipulate them. When the narcissist is unhappy, for example, they will make sure others suffer for it. They will make the situation as unpleasant as it is possible to be until they get what they want. They may argue, fight, cry, scream, assault, beg or ignore others for hours or even days, in a very orchestrated attack designed to not only punish but destroy the person's peace until they succeed in getting what they are after. The way they see it, they are unhappy. They are not at peace. Why should anyone else be happy or at peace? Why should someone get away with being so cruel and withholding?
When you tell a narcissist "No" or deny them something they want, this is taken to mean that they are not important or good enough to deserve it. This is of course untrue, but it doesn't matter what is true or not true because to the pathologically narcissistic, feelings are facts. It doesn't matter, for example, that your family can't afford what the narcissist wants right now. That is not understood or considered. If brought up, it will be called an excuse. If proven, it will be branded a lie and a scam you have perpetrated to get away with your cruelty. All they understand is that they need something and you will not give it to them, even though you could if you wanted to. You could ease their suffering but you will not do so. Therefore, anyone can see that you are obviously a heartless monster.
This is obviously unreasonable, which is why we always say stop explaining to the narcissist. You are dealing with pure emotion here, and emotion is unreasonable. It's illogical and irrational. You're wasting your time trying to reason with them. It would be like trying to reason a two year old out of a tantrum. It doesn't work. You cannot talk to somebody who is that upset. And make no mistake about it, narcissists are people in pain. Any slight against them is perceived as a scathing indictment of their character and who they are as a person. When they don't get what they want, this triggers feelings of shame and self-hatred. You don't love them, you think they are garbage, they are bad, they are horrible. Otherwise, you'd give them what they want because good people get what they want. The narcissist is not getting what they want, therefore the narcissist must be bad.
This is delusional and so unrealistic as to seem ridiculous, but it's how they feel. It presents itself differently, depending on the narcissist's personality, but it is always the same core problem. So while some narcissists may insist they deserve what they want because they are so special and amazing and better than everyone else, and others may insist they deserve whatever they want because they're such a victim and so helpless and in pain, both people are saying the same thing for the same reason: deep down, they fear others have realized they really don't matter.
This is why they are so controlling, and why this behavior is extremely difficult to change. The narrative and the accompanying false self that narcissists must create in order to survive is very strict and very fragile. It requires others to buy into it in order for it to achieve any authenticity at all. The narcissist cannot "breathe it into life" all on their own. They need others to do so. Of course, people are not usually willing to buy into something that requires them to be treated as objects and agree to things that not only ignore reality but damage their own well-being, so the narcissist usually tries to force them to do so through temper tantrums, threats and abuse. In this way, the narcissist controls the situation and creates an environment that supports their narrative. This narrative is that they are always correct, always important, always superior and always perfect.
Narcissists have a delusional, childish idea of what a good person is. To them, good means perfect. Many of them were victims of childhood abuse - often by narcissistic parents - and this is likely where they got that idea. They believe that only good - meaning perfect - people deserve anything and they have to create an environment where they are perceived as perfect in order to combat their pathological self-hatred, shame and insecurity. However, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is incorrect sometimes. Everyone does things wrong. This is not acceptable to the narcissist, therefore when something goes wrong, they blame others in order to keep the illusion intact that they are perfect. People who refuse to take the blame for them will be accused of abuse and they will be punished.
Pathologically narcissistic people believe that if others care about them, they would see the narcissist as perfect and flawless. If someone does not do that, they take it as an abject failure on their part and proof that this person does not care about them. This is then twisted and projected on to the other person as them being cruel and hateful to the narcissist, so that the narcissist can deny these feelings of worthlessness and failure. "I didn't fail. I'm not worthless. There's nothing wrong with me. They are just abusive and cruel." Projection and denial are the only way they can deal with this because they are unable to accept that simply being human is OK. This happens even over something very minor. Things like, "Hey, you forgot to call the electrician" are considered devastating personal attacks because they remind the narcissist that they are not perfect, which in their mind means worthless, unlovable and defective. This is why they respond to harmless reminders or mistakes with things like, "That doesn't make me a bad person!" or "So? You did this and this and this and this!" It's self-defense, but not against you. It's against the feeling that they are no good and worthless. You're just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The controlling aspect of the pathologically narcissistic person's behavior is something that is unlikely to change. The narcissist is essentially an actor, only instead of needing this role to make a living, they need this role to live - period. It's not just a game, or a manipulation they are using on other people - though it can be and often is used that way. It's essential to their survival. They need other people to believe it so they can believe it. It's the only defense they have against a hostile, abusive inner landscape and the only way they've ever known how to cope. They cannot face what they believe themselves to truly be and don't feel they can survive the shame of being forced to acknowledge it with no defense. If something happens that contradicts the false image narcissists project of themselves, it's as if someone is shoving a picture of this hideous true self in their face. They have to turn away. That's why anything that is contrary to how they wish to see themselves will be reacted to very badly. It triggers self-hatred and shame within the narcissist, which are treated as life-threatening.
It's very important to remember that the narcissist's fiction is not for other people - as many believe. It exists to keep the narcissist from having to face the disgusting, defective unlovable self that they have been trying their entire lives to deny. They are hiding it from no one more than themselves.
gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on November 15, 2018:
Thank you for describing on narcissism. Interestingly, I have been going through with my home tutor-student and her distant cousin. My student is passionately in her books and studies. But just the opposite is this follow who least concern about her studies. Thank you.
Shan Moore from Philippines on March 04, 2018:
Thanks! Great informative hub on narcissism.