Narcissists and Denigration
Denigration is a favorite hobby of narcissists. These folks love belittling others. And when they do, they often claim victim status. They justify treating others unfairly by claiming unfair treatment by others. But do they really believe what they claim? Do they only denigrate because they truly feel unfairly treated?
The very manner of grandiose narcissists invites others to cut them down to size. But narcissists don’t denigrate because they feel denigrated. They belittle because they enjoy it. Firstly, it makes them feel big – important, superior. It bolsters their already inflated sense of worth. Secondly, they feel powerful when they degrade and humiliate those not inclined to fight back. That felt rush of power is almost intoxicating.
Because they lack empathy, denigration is pure sport for narcissists. And they readily aggrandize or otherwise gratify themselves at the expense of others. They particularly like to pick on those they perceive as weak. And they regard folks with mature consciences and scruples as the weakest and most foolish.
A Real Life Example of Hurting for Sport
Many years ago, I witnessed a truly instructive event. A young man forced into treatment for antisocial behavior was sitting behind an acquaintance during a meeting. And the young man was flicking his finger at the ear of the other youngster. Despite the other person’s clear irritation with this, he kept doing it. Later, several professionals weighed in about why he did such things. “He has a lot of pent-up anger,” one person offered. “He was relieving his anxiety without thinking,” offered another. The explanations went on and on.
I spoke with the young man for some time afterward. And I offered him some of the many interpretations made of his behavior. He looked at me and laughed, mockingly. “I was just having some fun, stupid!,” he proudly proclaimed. I then asked if he frequently felt okay about gratifying himself at someone else’s expense. “Sure,” he calmly replied. “Why not?”
The Lie at the Heart of It All
Some narcissists will try to justify the denigration they heap on others by claiming others started things. But narcissists are notorious liars. And at some level, they know how dishonest they are. Still, they construct their own reality. Reality for them is what they say it is. That’s not because they can’t tell what’s real from what’s not. It’s because they respect no higher power. However, narcissists can lie so much, so egregiously, and so often that they begin believing their lies. That’s when their pathology transforms into something even more malignant. But generally, narcissists know better. They know their claims are a sham. And their shams are all about getting them what they want and not looking quite so bad in the demeaning way they do it.
A Disturbing Lifestyle
Denigration of others is more of a lifestyle for malignant narcissists. Actually, they know they’re not all that, even if they assert otherwise. And they know they’re not really superior even though they regard themselves so. But they refuse to give any credit to fortuitive circumstance. That would make them indebted. And if there’s anything the entitled among us hate most, it’s that.
Most narcissists feel the world owes them and they owe nothing. Feeling obliged would necessarily mean serving a higher power. And actually paying the debt would demand a certain kind of labor. It’s the labor on another’s behalf we call love. Narcissists detest that kind of labor. That makes them incapable of genuine love. They’ll gladly relish in attention, praise, and adulation as a substitute. You don’t have to do anything but charm and seduce people to get that. To earn genuine respect and positive regard, you have to first love. And you have to work on the behalf of others. Narcissists refuse to do that. They’re concerned only with their own image and welfare. (See also: Chapter in Character Disturbance.)
Frequent denigration of others is a hallmark sign of narcissism. And it’s a big red flag for the most serious character disturbances. When vetting a potential relationship partner, notice how often they criticize, demean, or belittle. A narcissist can make this behavior look benign, even funny. But you probably won’t be laughing very long once you really get to know this character type. (See also: Character Vetting Is Crucial for Intimate Relationships.)
Follow this link to the latest “New” Character Matters podcast. The topic is bitterness.
5 thoughts on “Denigration Is Pure Sport for Narcissists”
I guess I will never understand how the narc is able to turn people against another so effectively. You would think people would think about two sides to every story but it seems to me that in general people don’t care enough to find out, at least thats the conclusion I have come to. They can wreak such havoc in your life just from lying. Easy peasy for them.
Kat, that’s the million dollar quandary.
On one hand if someone is painting a negative picture of their coworker there isn’t that opportunity to hear the other side of the story. But, when relationships are knocked off a solid foundation by a narc based solely on what the narc says, do the people we care about psychologically expel the positive history we had with them? Are they so wrapped up in their farcical relationship with the narc, or is it so ingrained because it was done so covertly that it’s easier to blame the ones they were once close to?
I kind of believe they miss relationships that were good in their life but they don’t know how to get them back. I think some people are emotional procrastinators or emotionally lazy, taking the path of least resistance so to speak. Instead of starting over some people choose to stick it out. I’ve lost family members to covert narc attacks and truly for better or worse they’re committed even at the expense of having a relationships with siblings, parents, friends and children. My opinion is very generalized because everyone doesn’t have the same experiences but most of my experiences have been witnessing women do this to men. Sister-in-law ‘s on two brothers, daughter in law on one son. My H and I see it because both of our prior marriages were with narcs, they were, and most certainly still are very covert narcs, but we both drew the line at alienation from our respective families. Both of our marriages failed we believe because of noncompliance. Incidentally our former spouses went on to marry the polar opposite of us. My H and I have been married 38 easy years considering the first three days in my first marriage we’re kind of ok:) we are so grateful we were discarded.
Narc’s do eventually discard their victims, I got discarded after two children, but then I had basically checked out myself and concentrated on my kids. That was the best thing I could have done.
I just had a wonderful conversation with my grandson. He was doing what he’s been told to by his mom and dad. Come to grandparents house and mind our business and be mean to us. Something he’s never done before.
I ended up getting a little upset with him by telling him the inconsistency in his busybodiness. When I said this I told him I get the feeling that what you’re really doing is trying to hurt me. I said I’ve got news for you I’m a real person who cries too and I have a heart that gets hurt when people try to hurt me.
I’m not trying to hurt anyone in this family and I’m not gonna put up with others trying to hurt me. He started to cry as he is only 7 and a bit of an empath like me. He then thought about it for awhile and came and told me how sorry he was that he was saying those hurtful things to me and he’s never gonna do that again.
He told me mom and dad do tell him and his sister to come over and do bad things to us. He said they all laugh at home about it but he doesn’t like doing it. He said they also tell them to do bad things to their other grandparents and I’ve always corrected the kids when they said mean things about their other grandparents.
I told him this would be our only real secret from his parents. Don’t tell them you told us and we won’t tell them either. You have a big enough heart to love all of us and mommy and daddy too. You can love us all it’s ok.
He blew it when it was time to go home. He was mad at dad and told him I wish I could live with you grandma. I told him no don’t say that or you’re gonna have trouble at home. He shook his head yes.
Condition your kid to be loyal to yourselves by mentally and emotionally abusing them??? Great plan! Saddened by them.
Can someone help me with my anger? My Narc sister has so badly ruined my relationship with my brother – i am so angry! Then she calls and cries and says she wants to be in my life – what a joke! I havent spoken to her in three months and it feels so good – However my brother says I am abandoning her and punishing her for having a mental illness!? She has him so snowed – and he doesnt see it although I try to tell him! I am so flabbergasted at how smooth and charming she can be!? Her Projecting is SO obvious and telling! She accuses me of being sneaky and lying and that I need help – wow. They can literally make you feel like you are nuts – but I know better! What I am dealing with right now is waking up every day SO angry at her and my brother that I want to scream. I have struggled for a year with this battle. I am a Christian and have prayed so much to help me with my anger. I told myself I have to not take it personal cause she is so messed up and blames everyone for her “struggles” which are brought on by her compulsive spending and gambling. She has stolen thousands of dollars from our elderly Step Father (33k) and was very mad when we made her pay it back from the sale of her house (which HE co-signed) that is just another reason for her to go on her smear campaigns and raging. My brother falls for all this and thinks I am the bad guy! Its mind boggling. I have read the only way to get rid of a Narc is if they get rid of you – which I am hoping so far she has – its been three months. But my brother guilt trips me by saying “shes your SISTER she could die tomorrow” and is trying to force me to apologize TO HER and trying to force me into a relationship with her! My life has been hell!!! I’ve reached out for help on this and have not been satisfied AT ALL with responses I am getting. I am in such a difficult situation cause my whole family – accept my mother is calling ME the trouble maker and that we have to love her and hug her – it makes me sick! I’ve never been in such a dark place with the anger I feel – I used to be so full of joy and happy. I cant believe it has affected me this way because I am a very strong Christian. I try to not get mad but I feel I wont be able to refrain from being angry until I can yell at her (and my brother) and tell them they are rotten horrible human beings! I have never done ANYTHING to my brother and gave alot of money and support to my sister – and this is what I get??
Can someone please tell me who I can talk to so I can rid myself of this horrible anger I feel inside – and to top it off my brother KNOWS i have always ahd JOY and have never been angry like this yet he is making me out to be craxy because i keep trying to tell him he is being snowed and he wont have it! I have even given him literature on Narcs and he reads the first line and says “that isnt her” – OMG