5 reasons why you should never tell a narcissist they’re a narcissist.

Originally posted on July 1, 2015


In my dealings with narcissists, it’s sometimes been tempting to tell them to their face that they’re narcissists, thinking maybe it could be the wake up call they need. It’s a nice fantasy to think they might take a look at their obnoxious, abusive, insufferable selves and try to make some changes, but unfortunately that’s just a fantasy. It won’t work, because narcissists cannot feel remorse for their actions or empathy for hurting you. In fact, they may take pleasure from it.

The following reactions are far more likely if you “out” a narcissist to their face:

1. They might rage. Or give you the silent treatment. Or laugh at you. Or deny it. Or abuse you. Or call you names. Or tell you you’re crazy or deluded. Narcissists hate the truth, and if they know you have their number, they feel threatened and will attack like a cornered rattlesnake. It’s in their nature.

2. It might give them twisted narcissistic supply. Some narcissists may actually take a perverse pride in being called narcissistic. Rather than making them feel shame and remorse, telling a narcissist they’re a narcissist may flatter them and inflate their ego even more, which could lead to them becoming even more narcissistic and abusive than they already are.

3. They might project it back onto you. This is surprisingly common. Projection (attributing their own bad behaviors to their victims) is one of the more common red flags of a narcissist, so if you call a narc a narc, don’t be too surprised if they start telling everyone YOU are the narcissist. They might even turn the tables and play the victim (see DARVO).

4. They might learn more to hone their weapon. Taking #2 a step further, some bright narcissists may actually decide to learn more about their disorder–but not to learn how to control it or improve the way they treat people, but rather to educate themselves about abusive narcissistic mindgames they haven’t already tried in order to use them against you. I actually know someone this happened to when she called her ex a narcissist. He started reading every book he could get his hands on about NPD and narcissistic abuse, and systematically started using the information to “prove” his girlfriend had NPD and that he was the real victim (see #3).

5. They might not be a narcissist. There is always a possibility (even if small) that the person you think is a narcissist really isn’t. If you’re not a mental health professional qualified to make a diagnosis based on standardized testing and interviews, your own bias, lack of knowledge, or just plain dislike of a person could be influencing your judgment of them. Perhaps they are having a bad day (or a bad life), or suffer from some other disorder that can mimic narcissism. Even non-disordered people can act like narcissists at times. All of us can. So if you’re certain someone is a narcissist, you may be right, but it’s still best to keep that information to yourself–or only tell your close friends.

5 thoughts on “5 reasons why you should never tell a narcissist they’re a narcissist.

  1. Excellent advice. I can’t think of #3 without thinking of a certain person (who is not alone in the habit, by far) who complains of “fake news” when confronted on his lies. Head on confrontation with a narcissist is pretty much a waste of time and potentially dangerous.

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  2. Chances are that our pred (social predator / narcissist, pathological and less extreme versions) already knows him/herself to be ‘a power-obsessed amoral predator’, i.e. extroverted, outward-looking, routinely seeking prey.

    Telling a predator that you know his/her ‘gaming tendencies’ tells said pred that you are 1) a likely threat. Preds thrive in secrecy, and unmasking them negates most of their power, real or imagined. 2) that you yourself are a pred, and therefore competition. (This is so irrespective of your actual intent. To the predator, only his/her thought ***exists***, should this be the issue. It might well be otherwise in situations where our pred is ‘the God immutable’ – but when the throne gets wobbly, only one set of thinking exists – the pred’s) 3) an obvious corrolary: that you are a cannibalistic usurper, and hence are going to devour the pred while taking his/her place. Note that to many preds, the ‘devouring’ aspect – relishing the suffering of the vanquished – is fully as important as actually taking the place of the destroyed in the ‘great chain of being’ / dominance hierarchy.
    4) at the level of the unconscious, the whole of life, and especially the act of (social) predation, has profound magic(k)al overtones. (Hinduism/hermeticism has literature that the socially-handicapped ***can*** read, unlike the social world. The rules governing ‘social’ and ‘magic(k) correspond ***so*** closely that I strongly suspect that the social-instinctual world came first (e.g. antidiluvian world, tower of babel) and magic(k)/shamanism/churchianity came after, so as to extend the reach and power of social gamesmanship – ultimately ‘setting in ‘witch-brewed concrete’ the ‘god-give status’ of the ‘winners’ at the top of the dominance hierarchy.

    Smelly Normies! Ugh!

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