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How to Avoid Becoming a Narcissist's Victim

Malignant Narcissism is Dangerous

This term "malignant narcissist" was first created in 1964 by Erich Fromm. Dr. Otto Kernberg expounded upon this in the 1980s. By his definition, a malignant narcissist is someone who is grandiose and self-absorbed, and has the other characteristics of the clinically defined narcissistic personality disorder.

However, a malignant narcissist also has a sadistic side. He or she enjoys playing cruel games, and watching people suffer. The disorder is also characterized by an appalling lack of empathy.

Your Encounter With a Toxic Person

If you've ever had your life turned upside down by a malignant narcissist, then this article is just for you.

No doubt, it's been a horrendous experience. If only you could have seen it coming. Then you might have avoided the pain, drama, suffering and self doubt.

People who work above board naturally assume others do the same. But a significant minority do not. They toy with targets much like a cat plays with a mouse before killing it. They are devious and manipulative. They are insanely jealous. They want whatever you possess, and will stop at nothing to get it.

It's estimated 1 out of every 25 people is a malignant narcissist. This means they are deeply disturbed and thoroughly miserable. In order to ease their internal strife, and to boost their self esteem, they feel a need to bring others down. Unfortunately, this is where you entered the picture.

How a Narcissist Chooses Victims

Going forward, it helps to understand how narcissists work.

Why were you chosen as a target? Basically, because you had something the narcissist wanted. Or, she noticed a vulnerability in your life and seized upon it.

Malignant narcissists are good at reading social situations. Before striking, she calculated the risk. (In order not to get caught, and called out on her behavior.) She decided she could get away with it. That's because she sensed a weak link in your armor.

For instance, if you're new to a job, you haven't had a chance to build relationships. This leaves you virtually defenseless.The narcissist knows this.

So she gathers information to disable you. Often, this occurs during the "sizing up" stage when she pretends to be your friend. (Be aware of pushy people you don't know well pumping you for highly personal information.)

Armed with these details, she destroys your reputation. She does this by throwing in a few real facts, combined with outrageous lies. This is very effective.

Narcissists are highly manipulative.

Narcissists are highly manipulative.

Or, They'll Erode a Target's Support System

A narcissist also looks for cracks in an existing support system. Here is another example.

You live in a neighborhood filled with young families. You enjoy your neighbors, whom have children the same age as yours.

Then, a new couple moves in.

You like to welcome people. So you introduce them to everyone else. They fit right in.

Soon, they're part of the crowd. Within a month, they have parties at their house. You're invited, but it's uncomfortable. You can't put your finger on it, but the group dynamics have shifted.

Fast forward six months. The newcomers organize all neighborhood events. Everyone is included, except for your family.

It bothers you that your children are hurt. Now, it's Christmas vacation. Just this morning, your eight-year-old daughter watched all her friends pile into two mini-vans parked across the street. Everybody was headed to a skating rink, followed by a pizza party.

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This, unfortunately, has become a pattern. Right now, your daughter is upstairs in her room, wailing because she can't go skating.

Group-Based Support is Often Fragile

Your neighborhood support system was weak. It was based upon geographical proximity, as well as the fact everyone had young children. These friendships often don't run deep.

Also, you are your neighbors share a common goal. You want your children to grow into decent human beings. You want them to have good companions. That's why you moved into this nice neighborhood in the first place.

When a situation arose, in which the children could attend a fun event, organized by a neighbor, everybody jumped at the chance, despite the fact everyone wasn't invited. Maybe they didn't see it this way. Perhaps they didn't know.

But, even if they did, very few people have the gumption risk their own social standing, and, more importantly, their children's, to insist one family isn't marginalized.


Narcissists and Relational Aggression

In this case, the new female on your block has strong narcissistic tendencies. She wants to dominate the social scene. But, first, she needs to push you out of the way. This was accomplished by taking control of all activities.

Female bullies employ something known as relational aggression, as a way of excluding a target. Everyone else wanted their children to participate, so they went along with it. Very few people have the integrity to do the right thing, when a master manipulator is in their orbit.

Spotting a Disordered Personality

Overt narcissists are easy characters to spot. However, some people with this disorder are incredibly good at hiding behind a mask. What you see on the outside are learned behaviors, designed to mimic real emotions. Underneath lurks an emotional vampire.

However, a dead giveaway is poor emotional regulation. You might just see passing glimpses of this. An individual may show inappropriate rage, or blow up over trial matters. Even if this is short-lived, and it's quickly followed by an apology, proceed cautiously.

So, What Could You Have Done Differently?

One of the best ways to protect yourself from being hurt by a narcissist is to learn about this condition. That way, you can spot the signs. (Forewarned is forearmed.)

The keyword is boundaries. For instance, if you ask somebody over for coffee, they may stay six hours rather than for two. Or, they might ask you to watch their children for a weekend, right after meeting you. (Narcissistic mothers aren't noted for their maternal skills.)

If you sense something is off, go with that feeling. Give this new relationship some distance and perspective, before becoming entangled.

It's always a good idea to slowly get to know people. At work, don't readily divulge personal details. In the wrong hands, this information can derail your career goals.

Narcissists have long memories. If you've ever offended one, watch your back. Never engage in a head-to-head battle with a character disordered person. They will retaliate, even if it takes a year or more.

How to Spot a Narcissist on Facebook

But, Why Did the Narcissist Choose You?

Some experts believe narcissists are drawn toward highly empathetic types, who don't mind helping others. This meshes will with the narcissist's goals.

Here is an example.

Narcissistic mothers need someone to watch their children. Despite a carefully crafted appearance of being a "supermom," they don't like the work it involves.

So they need someone to shuttle their children to soccer practice and piano lessons. They'll show up for the games and the recitals.

Since the day-to-day routine of raising a family bores the heck out of them, they depend upon others to do the heavy lifting.

That's why she chose you, her nice non-complaining "friend." But if you step back and take a look, this is a very one-side "friendship." Cut the cord. You deserve much better.

You Come from a Family Background of Narcissism

Some people are raised in a family where one or both parents, or perhaps an older sibling, had strong narcissistic tendencies. Disordered behaviors were considered normal. So, as they mature, they don't readily recognize the warning signs. They have too much patience with inappropriate behavior. And they dismiss bizarre actions as personality quirks.

We're all drawn to what is familiar. Unfortunately, for many targets, bad behavior is what feels comfortable.

So learn all you can about malignant narcissism. Then, when you see it, run fast in the other direction.


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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Claudia on August 07, 2016:

Under this heading:

Spotting a Disordered Personality

....shouldn't it say "trivial matters" instead of "trial matters" ?

ologsinquito (author) from USA on April 18, 2016:

Hi vocalcoach, thank you so much for reading and for sharing. I'm sorry to hear you've also met a malicious narcissistic person.

ologsinquito (author) from USA on October 19, 2015:

Hi Am in love, I love God as well. As a Catholic, I still go to Mass because that's where we encounter Jesus. We did change the location of where we worship, which is advisable to do when a narcissist has seized control. I wish you well and God Bless you. Sorry to hear about your terrible experience. It's really difficult to trust new people, especially those you meet at church, where so many of these covert narcissists congregate. Church gives them the perfect cover. But good people far outnumber the bad.

ologsinquito (author) from USA on October 06, 2015:

I Love God, I couldn't agree more, except to say that if a situation doesn't feel right back away and pray.

ologsinquito (author) from USA on April 02, 2015:

Hi Mr. John, I'm not a trained professional, so all I can give is an uneducated opinion. There is a huge problem with bullying in schools, among teachers, and this has been documented. Normal, healthy people do not try to make life difficult for others. Nor do they try to drive them out of a job. These are traits of someone with what psychologists call a personality disorder.

It seems as if it's very widespread in the United States, unfortunately. I don't know what it's like anywhere else.

ologsinquito (author) from USA on May 26, 2014:

Hi Jokul, unfortunately, this is how morally disordered people behave. Sorry you had to experience that.

ologsinquito (author) from USA on January 11, 2014:

I couldn't either. That's passing off what should be your most precious possessions to a stranger.

ologsinquito (author) from USA on January 07, 2014:

WriterFox, I don't either. It costs the company so much money to hire and to train new people, when the targets eventually leave. Plus, it creates a very toxic environment. Thank you for reading.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on January 07, 2014:

I've never understood why so many employers tolerate this kind of employee, but they seem to! Enjoyed reading your take on this subject. Voted up.

ologsinquito (author) from USA on January 07, 2014:

Thanks suzettenaples, they are quite a bunch. Once you've experienced this, you definitely know what to look for.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on January 07, 2014:

What an excellent article on narcissists. You seem to have experienced a number of them. I have too and your assessments are spot on! Thanks for an engaging and informative read!

ologsinquito (author) from USA on January 05, 2014:

HI Bishop55, I'll be happy to offer any feedback. Thank you so much for reading my hubs.

ologsinquito (author) from USA on January 05, 2014:

Hi FlourishAnyway, the example was a compilation of people I've met. Although I have run into narcissists on the job, most of my first-hand experience has been at church. Religious and volunteer groups provide the perfect environment for a narcissist to operate. The experience hasn't destroyed my faith in God, who is all good. So I'm not recommending that people stop going to church. All I suggest is that if they try to get involved in church-based activities and ministries, to do so with open eyes.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 04, 2014:

This is so on target it's scary. It's like you know her. (Probably you have known one.) I've personally worked with two such crazy wenches and one man who fit this bill. The first one prepared me for the others. Fool me once ... you know the rest. I found that narcissists absolutely hated being treated with apathy/being ignored, being denied information, and when you keep your cool in the face of their hateful tricks. Voted WAY UP and shared, pinning right now. This should be in every new employee's welcome packet at certain companies!

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