Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

What is a narcicist?

(58 Posts)
janaus Thu 05-May-16 03:36:45

Could someone please explain to me, in simple terms, what they think a narcisist is?
It was mentioned in counselling, but I don't know anything about it.
Thanks again.

GarlicShake Thu 05-May-16 04:02:57

Narcissism is thinking you're great. It's a healthy characteristic in moderation. With too much of it, you get self-obsessed and are likely to lose friends. With a lot too much of it, you're Katie Hopkins.

There's a serious mental condition called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is mainly about being superficially charming but trashing everyone & everything around you in pursuit of the grand destiny you think you deserve.

It's named after Narcissus

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

janaus Thu 05-May-16 04:30:28

One thing my H does, is everywhere we go, he has to be "centre of attention", always ending up embarrassing himself, which he doesnt notice, and me.
I'm at the point of not wanting to go anywhere with him.
His friends all say he is a great guy, its just me that it bothers.

mathanxiety Thu 05-May-16 05:15:43

A narcissist is someone who wants to be judged by their impeccable intentions, and never by the effects of their actual behaviour on other people.

Other people are put on earth to allow narcissists to attribute all of the unacceptable parts of themselves to them because a narcissist cannot be anything but pure and good, in their own head, or a victim of unfairness and manipulation and huge betrayal if the people in their life have managed to break free and want nothing more to do with them.

'The narcissist feeds off other people who hurl back at him an image that he projects to them. This is their sole function in his world : to reflect his False Self, to admire him, to applaud his actions, even to detest and fear him - in a word, to assure him that he exists by giving him constant attention.
Otherwise, the narcissist feels that they have no right to tax his time, energy, or emotions.'

For narcissists, all relationships descend into competition. The narcissist must win the competition. Close, intimate relationships are attempted but are not possible for a narcissist to succeed at with the normal meaning of 'succeed'.

Narcissists want to win each and every encounter with every person they come in contact with. If they encounter a person they consider of lower status they will grind them underfoot. If they are trying to suck up to someone they will be incredibly charming. Both situations have been 'won' by the narcissist. At home, a narcissist must 'win' relationships and uses relationships to supply reassurance of his or her own superiority. A spouse will get a lot of criticism and put downs and other emotional and psychological abuse. The narcissist will not take any personal responsibility for any of this, and will get angry if challenged by the spouse. Intimate relationships usually follow a pattern of idealisation followed by devaluing. There is no real respect and the only love is malign and self centered.

Nollynoodle8 Thu 05-May-16 05:23:45

Math that post is classic gold. You've got it bang on.

A narcissist is someone who wants to be judged by their impeccable intentions, and never by the effects of their actual behaviour on other people.

And boy is their behaviour destructive...

janaus Thu 05-May-16 05:32:28


wallybantersjunkbox Thu 05-May-16 07:24:27

math has totally nailed it.

I'm sure if you google it you'll find a picture of my ex's head floating gently past on a stick.

When it's written down in black and white it's terrifying, when you engage in a relationship with one, you are completely unaware of what's happening...

The idealisation rings a ex put me on such a pedestal at the beginning of our relationship. I was both vunerable and blind to it. It was like he sought me out.

And now that we've separated and I've removed all his entitlements to a good life, I must pay...

Nollynoodle8 Thu 05-May-16 08:02:30

janaus one thing to be very careful/aware of is that these behaviours intensify when you try to leave them. It often reaches fever-pitch as they feel the tearing wrench between their version of reality (control) and yours. You may be very surprised post separation to see how they crumple and you realise how terribly weak they really are internally, something previously masked by their invincible exterior. Others will explain it better. However if you've been together for some time I'd expect it'll take a while yet before you fully appreciate how enmeshed you are and then build yourself strong enough to leave. Keep strong op.

lougle Thu 05-May-16 08:40:04

I think it's worth pointing out that an individual who is truly narcissistic will be completely unaware of it. Their perception of themselves will be so wrapped up in their need for success that they couldn't cope with any notion that they have flaws.

Also, although every part of the individual's behaviour will be invested in protecting their success, popularity, affluence, etc., underneath all that lies a very fragile self-esteem.

ThisIsTheRightTime Thu 05-May-16 08:43:52

math, that is a true and clear definition.

My husband, who left twelve months ago, has revealed himself through his actions as a true narcissist who had managed to pull the wool over our family's eyes for years. His social image is vital to him ; he comes across as congenial, relaxed, positive and fun. What is also completely vital to him is the suffering he has inflicted on me and our children as it reflects away from his eyes and mind his culpability and darker side. When he left he told me I was to blame for every single thing. Now he is using the exact same reproaches on our twelve-year old son who has been brave enough to attempt to stand up to his father and reveal the lies and cruel actions he has inflicted on us all. Our six-year old has been spared her father's wrath so far as she is too afraid to speak up and plays the role of the good little girl.

The hardest thing to learn about having a close relationship with a narcissist is that you will always lose. Divorcing a narcissist is horrendous as they will blatantly lie to their lawyer and in court. Destabilising tactics are used -last minute joint-custody requests, in our case - and cruel, cruel mistruths which send you reeling emotionally. The worst part is that his desire to hurt me is having a far greater impact on our children than on me.

"What I don't understand is why he's trying to destroy you when he's the one who left?" I have heard this question countless times. Here's the thing. By merely contradicting or slighting a narcissist or simply by not giving into his needs and demands you become his enemy. The scheming and plotting begins and if by misfortune this person knows you intimately he will use your weak points to hurt and break you.

Complete indifference is the only way to communicate with a narcissist. Never engage. I have been fortunate that my lawyer, two months into representing me in our divorce, saw through my husband. The day of our first judgment she told me she had rarely seen such an individual so hellbent on revenge.

wallybantersjunkbox Thu 05-May-16 09:00:50

Oh this flowersI am experiencing exactly the same thing. Luckily for me the saving grace will be that I live in a country where there is no emotion in the divorce process, simply a rational division of equity and rules in place for children.

The terrifying thought is when you have children, you have to maintain some kind of contact for a long time. I keep all contact to messaging now. It's the only way to retain some control of my sanity.

At the beginning he encouraged me to open my soul...I was unaware that he was simply learning and feeding off my weaknesses and vulnerability. I thought we were sharing but in hindsight it wasn't that.

I made him look for other women, I made him miserable, I made him was all my fault.

Now that the judge and lawyer are dealing rationally and he can't abuse them he told me he can't bear to even be anywhere near me, for example at his sons school festival last week.

LittleMissUpset Thu 05-May-16 09:10:13

It's been mentioned to me that my husband is probably a narcissist.

If someone told me their husband treated them like he treats me I would be horrified. But I struggle to believe he is like that and put it all back on myself.

The bit I find really hard is everyone thinks he is so charming. He was like that with me at first.

We had joint counseling and that was a huge mistake. Whatever I mentioned was turned around on me, and he even denied something, didn't say he couldn't remember but flat out denied it happened!

The only person in work who didn't like him was one of his bosses, of course the boss was completely at fault hmm

I'm apparantly over sensitive and constantly get told this, but luckily I have recently had a bit of a lightbulb moment.

Right now I don't feel I'm in a place to leave, he has crushed my confidence so much, and I only work a few hours a week. I'm trying to get more hours but jobs are very hard to come by at the moment.

How do you feel now you know it's emotional abuse? Was it a shock?

I know it was for me, as I always thought I was doing something wrong!

MorrisZapp Thu 05-May-16 09:17:51

The 'impeccable intentions' thing hits home hard. My mum is like this. She judges others sooooo harshly for their failure to live an ethically perfect life. While doing what the hell she likes and taking hurt or outraged offence to any mention of her own habits.

Fourormore Thu 05-May-16 09:21:28

It's important to keep in mind that NPD is rare and people can display narcissistic traits (most of us) or a narcissistic personality style as opposed to a full blown disorder.

ThisIsTheRightTime Thu 05-May-16 09:26:34

Oh, Wally, I am so sorry you too are going through this hell. sad May I ask in which country you live? I'm in France. Unfortunately my husband's lawyer fights hard and takes everything he says as true. It has been wretched seeing the lies he has fed her written in bold type on official documents. Fortunately, mine has our children's best interest at heart and is determined to fight back in a measured and rational manner.

The judge has ordered we undergo mediation which has only just started after a three-month wait. I feel quite safe with our (male) mediator and I have observed with a little fascination how quickly my husband has launched into his manipulation tactics. He has already blamed me for refusing to communicate with him and how this is causing our children hardship and sorrow. Our next session is in two weeks. After twelve months of not reacting to his destructive actions I am hoping I get a chance to calmly list the reasons why I have had to project our DC and myself. It would be too easy to comply again and allow him to walk all over me in mediation too. Even my daughter's very-experienced school teacher has not dared tell him that she suffers stomach aches and expresses anguish and fear on the days he picks her up from school. "I chose not to tell him as I don't want him to interrogate his daughter", she explained to me.

So, you husband cannot bear to be near you? I doubt that is true deep down inside. Mine despises me and yet finds so many ways to be around. Before I could legally change the locks - the judge ordered him to return all house keys and he still has not given them all back - he would come into my house at night and steal things. At parent meetings at school he arrives at the last minute and sits just behind me.

How long ago did you separate Wally?

ThisIsTheRightTime Thu 05-May-16 09:36:59

Fourormore, I'm sure you are right but there are varying degrees of NPD and I think today's society favours this illness as frustration is borne with more and more difficulty in our modern day world.

LittleMissUpset, everthing you have written echoes my experience with my husband. Always charming and charismatic. I look back on our courtship and I realise everything was just too good to be true. I fell for it and that was my shortcoming. You say you lack confidence which is perfectly normal. Bit by bit your optimism and positive energy are drained away from you. A year after he left me I am truly finding myself again and it is a wonderful feeling to feel brave and confident once more.

A narcissist will NEVER blame himself rather he will turn the fault onto others.

wallybantersjunkbox Thu 05-May-16 10:12:48

It will be two years in August.

I would still be blaming myself, but when I packed up his things I found his military records where he was diagnosed as a narcissistic sociopath.

I almost crumbled in relief when I read into it.

Same here everybody loved him, he was the big I am. I found out afterwards that he was even telling some of the mums at school stories that were mine...I was a school reader and he told them he was etc. His persona was completely created to each person, it was frightening what came out afterwards.

I started to see it at the a social gathering someone asked me what had happened to my arm (I have a scar after an accident) he made a huge harrumph and rolled his eyes shouting "oh god not the arm story again.." Then I realised that he couldn't stand the attention on me. (Unless it was directed by him)

Socially everything felt like a big performance...he had to be the loudest, funniest, most opinionated person in the group.

I completely forgot that I had the skills to be witty, engaging and involve myself in entertainingly conversation. I sat in the shadows afraid to bring attention to myself for fear of a public put down.

Oh yes he denied completely that he had a door key...and I nearly went mad with stress that things were not in my home. He still refuses to redirect his mail. Now I send it all back to the sender.

If he pays anything for his son, he will have "lost", and lost to a woman.

My friend and I accidentally ran into him on a date last month. He was furious because for the last few months I've been openly seeing someone and he's enjoyed abusing me about this. Making me feel guilty and every time I got angry taunting me that my romance must be shit. He's very degrading to my partner because he's of a different nationality and works in a blue collar job.

My friend started chatting to the girlfriend, afterwards she said that the poor woman seemed very vunerable and gave me a knowing look.

When I was introduced as the ex, she did a huge intake of breath and a look of horror. I can only imagine the web he's spun her. Just like I fell for his stories about his previous wife being a bitch and a Nazi. And how I would never be like her, and how much better I was than her. I fell for it all, God, I fell for it all.

LittleMissUpset Thu 05-May-16 10:30:52

Wally the centre of attention thing really strikes a chord with me, he always dominates any conversation, I can't get a word in, even if we are talking about something I've done, he will take over and tell the story!

I always feel like I'm sitting in the shadows, you have summed it up so perfectly sad I'm sorry you've been through it too, and everyone else flowers

OP, I went to counseling because I thought 'I' was the problem, every one else loves him, I must be doing something wrong!

After I had that, I saw I wasn't doing anything wrong, and my feelings were important, and I'm not always over sensitive.

I can communicate fine with other people, and have empathy and although I don't like being told I'm wrong, I will admit if I've made a mistake, I'm far from perfect but I am aware of that!

I always thought I was the problem, and while I'm willing to work on myself, and compromise, I can now see that he will never admit or see he is wrong. How can you compromise with that?

GarlicShake Thu 05-May-16 13:54:34

Four, it's not that rare. Best estimates are: 10% of people in the 'western' world have a PD and 10% of those are Narcissists. That's 1 in 100 - and those are conservative estimates. As ThisIs points out, it is on the rise along with psychopathy. Our societies reward the traits.

There are extremes of every condition - with NPD, the very extreme manifestations might end up in a secure psych ward (or dead.) The vast majority will never even come into contact with a psychiatrist because, of course, there's nothing wrong with them.

Janaus, is this the reason for your thread? Are you living with someone like this?

mickyblueyes Thu 05-May-16 15:29:58

I've read a lot about Narcissists recently - It's not just the stereo typical male, who's ego is bigger than the moon! More and more women are displaying Narcissistic behaviour too.

The behaviour mentioned in a few of the previous posts are what most people think the stereotypical Self Loving, egotistical, controlling etc..

But there are also 'Covert' narcissists, these people are probably more difficult to spot but they exist. Similar in that they 'Self Love' but don't portray this in an open, brash manner. Its more subtle, such terms as 'Gas Lighting' and 'Passive Aggressive' Behaviour, lack of empathy...It's a fascinating subject.

This is a good read and explains it far better than I could...

ThisIsTheRightTime Thu 05-May-16 16:13:56

It is a fascinating subject mickyblueeyes although more terrifying to live with then fascinating. smile And yes indeed, gas lighting, lack of empathy and passive agressive behaviour are all part and parcel of the narcissist.

Last time my husband picked up his children from my home my twelve-year old son was crying uncontrollably and reiterating how scared he was whilst his father continued to load the car with their luggage. His face was completely passive. Apparently, in the car, he told his children he would punish them for not saying hello to him.

Lack of empath? Yes. Passive agressive. Most definitely.

goddessofsmallthings Thu 05-May-16 17:25:55

Last time my husband picked up his children from my home my twelve-year old son was crying uncontrollably and reiterating how scared he was

Your son is of an age where his wishes will be taken into account by the family courts and he shouldn't be forced to have contact with his father if he's scared/doesn't want to see him, ThisIs.

MusicIsMedicine Thu 05-May-16 17:37:04

ThisIsTheRightTime Thu 05-May-16 17:45:21

Thank you*goddessofsmallthings*. Sadly, we live in France and despite my son being heard by a judge and expressing his clear wishes to not see his father another judge ruled for an extended visitation right for the father. Apparently he needs to wait until he is fifteen before he can cease all contact with him. But, my youngest daughter is six. I know my son would be completely incapable of leaving her to fend for herself.

I'm just hoping and praying, with a good case and my wonderful lawyer, that this situation will be only temporary. My future ex is already caving in and asking me to take the children midweek as he is having problems at work.

ThisIsTheRightTime Thu 05-May-16 17:46:29

Thank you for that link MusicIsMedicine!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now