We hear a lot about bullying these days. For one thing, folks seem more willing to call out this disturbing behavior. And for another, we’re learning more about bullies. Thanks to some good research, we’re learning what they’re really like. We’re also learning what actually motivates them. In the process, we’ve debunked many older notions about bullies and their behavior.
Some Common Misconceptions
For many years we believed some things about bullies that simply aren’t true. Unfortunately, many of these erroneous beliefs were actually promoted by well-meaning social scientists. Some of the more common misconceptions about bullies include:
- Bullies are really cowards underneath. They pick on the vulnerable and powerless because they don’t have the guts to pick on a more formidable opponent.
- Bullies suffer from low self-esteem. They try to build themselves up by making others look weak or inferior.
- Bullies have likely been bullied themselves. Or, they necessarily come from a deprived, neglected, or abused place. They have lots of pain and pent-up rage. So, they take it out on those who won’t strike back.
- Bullies are really just starved for love and attention. They want to feel important and powerful because inwardly they feel no one really cares about them.
Truth be told, bullies are a special brand of narcissist. Moreover, they act out of very different motives than the ones outlined above. We know this now. Too bad that for so long we perpetuated so many harmful ideas.
Why They Really Do It
Bullies are grandiose narcissists. (See also: Grandiose Narcissists.) And grandiose narcissists act out of a sense of entitlement. They see themselves as special, above the rules. And they view others as inferior. Grandiose narcissists also lack empathy. Moreover, just how empathy-impaired they are determines how malignant their narcissism is. Such folks have no shame or compunction about hurting others.
To sum things up, narcissistic bullies do what they do because they:
- Feel it’s their prerogative
- Don’t care who they hurt
- Disdain those they perceive as weak or inferior
- Enjoy lording power over others
Dealing with Bullying
Dealing effectively with narcissistic bullies can be quite challenging. Just standing up to them might lead to further trouble. You see, it’s all about the power imbalance in the first place. And while you do have to “out” their behavior, reporting can carry its own risks. How supportive your environment is makes all the difference. For example, your workplace must make it clear that such behavior is completely unacceptable. And those in charge mustn’t shy from imposing clear and firm consequences. Sadly, a culture of narcissism has been with us for a long time now. As a result, many environments aren’t anywhere as supportive as they could be.
There’s strength in numbers. So, the more folks who refuse to condone their behavior, the less room narcissistic bullies have to operate in. And the more places that impose firm boundaries and consequences, the less free some narcissists will feel to bully.
Folks can bully in relationships in some really subtle ways. And I’ll have more to say about that in upcoming posts.
Character Matters Update
I’ve been exploring several possible new venues for Character Matters. Podcasts are available on UCY.TV’s YouTube channel. Fortunately, one possibility appears particularly promising. I’ll be updating on this within the next few weeks.
As always, many thanks for referring my books and this blog to others.
28 thoughts on “Narcissistic Bullies Intentionally Harm”
1. Don’t care who they hurt
2. Disdain for those they perceive as weak or inferior
3. Enjoy lording power over others
4. Enjoys the suffering which the cause
It’s the Adrenalin kick they get, it’s a buzz for them.
And they will do ANYTHING TO GET IT
All so true. I was with a fella at a fair and he got into a discussion with another fella. Mind you the fella I was with had a knowledge of what they were discussing. I was watching the interchange between both of them and at a point I found it somewhat disturbing, as this fella I was with began to tell half truths, befuddling the other fella. To make a long story short, the fella I was with led the other fella into being as befuddled as I was. The fella I was with told told the other fella he was wrong, didn’t know what he was talking about and then told him he was a moron.
When I asked the fella I was with “Why did you do that?”
he said “Because it was Fun.”
I found this incident to be very disturbing and bewildering. Not till many years later when I began studying narcissism, did the answer to this disturbing interchange reveal itself. What a big red flag was waving that day and I was clueless.
Again, as Dr. Simon repeatedly teaches: “They Know What They are Doing.”
If only we knew them what we know now. Same holds true when you see someone abuse the wait staff st restaurants.
This very post on bullies is my LIGHT BULB MOMENT.
It was THE MOTHERS VERY ACTION that woke me up. I now have to live the rest of my life knowing that my very own the mother LIKED MY PAIN. and wanted to keep it close.
There is a sort of positive side. I GOT THE FCUK OUT. I WAS GONE.
I am very much alone now and spend a great deal of time alone. BUT !
I am FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE to fail or succeed. on my own terms.
I could never understand why someone who is dependant on another person, would actually torture the person who they are dependant upon.
It is when you wake up and learn that beautiful word.
It sure is one heck of a wake up, to realize the person who should love you most is an abuser and enjoys watching you in pain. I know this whole realization was hard for me to wrap my head around, its so surreal.
There is a positive side to all this, at least for me there is. All the negative experiences can be used to grow far beyond others who have never endured what we have. Others may say they understand, but few truly do. We can use these experiences to reach out and help others who are suffering, others who haven’t a clue to what they are dealing with and what avenues are within their reach. We carry so many answers to help others make a break or shed light on that which is causing them so much distress and abuse.
Joey, you give so much to this blog, you mean a lot to many of us. We may be across the ocean, but know we care about you. I shed so many of the CD in my life and welcome aloneness instead of twisted crazymaking.
I like that, “Freeee to succeed or Fail.” Its OK, no one to criticize me if I make a mistake, no one to answer to, no one to tell me what to do, no one to question where or when I go. In my house I complain to myself and I love it.
Peace and quiet, they say “Silence is Golden.” I do have my little rescue dog and he gives me so much joy.
Yes, Goodbye is a beautiful word. Goodbye forever….
Joey, I looked at several persons in my life who were controlling and toxic. I remember looking at them and thinking as I said “Goodbye” I will never speak to you again, it is over, I am done with you and went No Contact. I have never regretted when I have done this.
Truly, it is all a new beginning, not the end. Just know we are a family of sorts on this blog, Kindred Spirits and you belong.
I am now at this moment at work. I have ENYA Watermark playing. I am running my machine
I am HAPPY AND FREE
Free at last to be me. Free at last to be Joey. Today is a new day, yesterday is gone. Today is what counts. I see we like the same music, I never heard ENYA Watermark before. Thank you little brother.
I look up to you too, Joey. You have come a long way and have grown in leaps and bounds. I picture you as refined English gentleman who has depth, who reads and writes poetry and loves classical music. It takes a special person to understand this genre, indeed you have a complexity and profundity of thought I admire.
Enya Lyrics – Echoes In Rain
Wait for the sun
Watching the sky
Black as a crow
Night passes by
Taking the stars
So far away
Here comes another new day
Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah
Into the wind
I throw the night
Silver and gold
Turn into light
I’m on the road
I know the way
Here comes another new day
Alleluia, alle-alle alleluia
Alleluia, alle-alle alleluia
Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah
Echoes in rain
Drifting in waves
Long journey home
Never too late
Black as a crow
Night comes again
Here comes another new day
Bullying waitstaff is HUGE RED FLAG. The whole restaurant experience is a litmus test for bullies. How about the ‘friend,’ who makes you uncomfortable by sending meals back to the kitchen? And not once but like…every time they eat out? Nothing is ever quite good enough for them. And this type never takes into account the time of day or if the restaurant is hopping busy and understaffed either.
I just don’t like being around people like that regardless of what that kind of behavior portends for my future as their friend.
The covert bully’s public behavior is impeccable and initially they are wonderful ‘friends,’ lovers, life partners, husbands, wives. No one can quite believe it when you reveal they played you because the covert is so charming, funny and ‘warm.’ They fake sincerity brilliantly and are expert at mirroring and making people feel comfortable while seeking common ground with them.
If it sports, they will affect a sporting attitude. If it’s passion about the environment, they will tell you that they thought of joining Green Peace at one time. Religion? They can do that too. If you let on that you admire Buddhism, don’t be surprised if they greet you with a little bow, hands clasped together and a big ‘Namaste.’
But get to know them well enough and their arrogance, bullying and insulting nature will eventually come to the surface. And you will, at first, be convinced it truly is all,of your fault, if you don’t understand clever manipulation.
And that is where Dr.Simon comes in. You want to give people who are merely screwed up or under terrible stress the benefit of the doubt, so watch for those signs of people who are in misery but can change. Beware of people who can’t or won’t. Stay well away from them as there is nothing you can do but get out of their way.
Their chameleon quality is something a lot of people don’t understand. I know from my family of origin, I always got “I would never be fooled like that”, like I am some kind of idiot. I am convinced only those who have had them in their life can know the extent they go to, to be convincing. They plan this stuff out and it can occur in stages where they set you up. I have people who have known me for a long time that still give me a funny look when I tell them my EX was a psychopath. I don’t know if it doesn’t register or what they are thinking. I just don’t think they can comprehend the implications of it. I think its best not to let anyone know except for those who have dealt with it.
The easiest people to fool are those who think they can’t be fooled. Same as people who think conspiracies on a grand scale can’t happen. Very naive. I studied propaganda for years and found the perfect Petrie dish to culture organized crime is in a society where “these things just don’t happen here.” LOL!
Yes, naivety is something CD’s just love. Funny thing is, my brothers saw him on tv, he was at a local Farmers market, he made crafts, and the news interviewed him, just a short clip. My brothers were really impressed with him because of his ease in talking with the press, and of course he was charming and interesting on the surface. He sucked them right in, they thought he was really a cool guy. They never met him, I didn’t live in the area when we were together, and he moved up here long after I had divorced him, probably looking to mooch off our daughter if he had to. Its disgusting how far charm can go. He knew if he could be entertaining he could get away with a lot.
What about the enablers? Just as bad right? Adult bullies who teach their children how wrong it is to bully but are bullies. I have an ex-sil who does charity work for children at Christmas time, she is a larger than life covert bully enabled by an entire family!! What gives?
1.Feel it’s their prerogative
2. Don’t care who they hurt
3. Disdain those they perceive as weak or inferior
4. Enjoy lording power over others, This is what give. It is the game of their life.
If you lack empathy, How do you interact with other humans.
Life becomes a game of WINNER TAKES ALL, ONE UP ON OTHERS OR GETTING ONE OVER OTHERS.
The game of smash or grab
The game of the needle knife (Sadism ,cruelty and victim hood)
The game of hiding and seek
The game of ditch and run
It is all about gaming with them, isn’t it? Can you imagine how much wasted time one has to go through to plot and plan how to toy with others? What a waste of life.
For some people, it’s the appearance of being a good person that matters to your ex sil. Then she can brag about what she’s done to continue with the fraud she displays.
Agree, its just a good cover for their true selves.
What about the enablers?
Good question. I have wondered that as well. I guess you could have called me an enabler at one time since I was married to a CD. I can only say for myself I was not aware of the lies and manipulation when we met, I came from a family background of neglect and dysfunction so I didn’t have a good idea of what a healthy relationship was. I didn’t know what a narcissist was.
Sometimes people believe the narcissist stories without checking out the other side of the story – I don’t know why that happens. My EX’s family was secretive and never told me about his lies. I could only guess at why, they were dysfunctional as well. I think there are different reasons. I know someone whose EX CD turned the whole church against her. They listened to him without ever talking to her. She was going to contact several people in the church and tell them her side of the story. I don’t know how that ever worked out. I know she switched churches. I know my EX’s family despised him, all except for his mother of course. They didn’t want him around because of all the trouble he caused but I didn’t find this stuff out until after we were divorced. This happens in families of alcoholics as well, people tend to keep the secrets and pretend its ok.
Sometimes its just easier for people not to check out the other side – they just don’t care to bother about it, other than that I don’t know why, it would have to be beneficial to them in some way if they knew what was going on, those I think are what one poster used to call their “flying monkeys”, referring to the flying monkeys in the wizard of oz that did the witches bidding. Those are the ones I don’t bother with and I don’t care what they think.
I have to wonder: How many times do enablers need to see victimization of innocent people before saying enough is enough? When the bullying keeps happening and family keep leaving do the enablers eventually realize the bully is the bad one. I think they know all a long and might be afraid of the fall out if the bully swivels their head in their direction?
When I think of enablers I think of bystanders who are adult children of the bully, sisters, brothers, parents and co-workers.
I had an employer who did this to a coworker, and I quit when I witnessed his bullying. He knew I quit for this reason and he apologized to ME for his behavior but not to her. She stayed I left? Eventually the whole dynamic collapsed and everyone splintered but I just couldn’t stand by and watch anyone treat another person like sh*t.
Your comment about the fall-out when calling out a bully could be a factor, especially in a work environment when workers who do call it out can end up being the one losing the job, or nothing changing, or then being the object of the bully. Many people can’t quit their job. So they endure it.
In families, maybe they just get used to witnessing the bullying, not secure enough to call it out, maybe not emotionally or financially strong enough to call out the bully.
Good for you to be able to leave the environment. It is tough to watch. Many people watch it go on in their friends’ marriages. It’s a better perspective to watch life play out as an outsider. It’s a very complex matter to leave a marriage when there is this type of abuse going on. Every situation is different. It’s not black and white.
How many times do enablers need to see victimization of innocent people before saying enough is enough
THEY DO’NT SEE. What ever you wish to call them, they are all the same. They have the objective;
AND THAT’S IT
I’ve come up with a new nickname for the X. “The Dingo”. Dingoes are hunting opportunists. They hunt either alone or in packs.
I referred to him as The Dingo this morning because he spends times with my grandson, sometimes overnighters. So I say The Dingo took my baby! (Remember the movie A Cry In The Dark) – but that Dingo ate her baby. I don’t like the X spending too much time with him. He just turned four. I know he won’t mistreat him, but it’s the character issues that I’m worried about.
In a way, The Dingo is eating my baby, slowly.
I would feel the same, they always manage to get their foul 2cents in there. And the older the child gets the more it can affect them. That way the “Dingo” has a pull on your daughter too. These are the kind of consequences for being around these CD’s that I just hate. The gift that just keeps giving. You would think they would love their grandchildren but I know my CD ex could have cared less – he didn’t even pay attention to them when they would say something to him.
I really don’t know how the X behave with my GS. My daughter told me the other day she wouldn’t let him have him if she thought he was mistreating him. But she does not understand the CD disorder and how it can affect a person, even without them knowing it. The GS loves to go over there and gets real excited. I just have to work really hard on developing good character, make a conscious effort.
That’s too bad about your X.
I imagine my X spends most of the time on his phone or table, like he’s always done, focusing on interpersonal things because he’s too bored of the person in front of him. What a jerk. And those little ones crave that attention. I find my daughter doing the same, staring at her phone or tablet or t.v. Irritates the heck out of me. I’m glad they are living with me, at least I know he’s getting the attention he deserves, from me anyway.
I think young people are going to have some bad consequences of that phone posture. Seems like they all do it. My GD’s liked to be around the EX too, but that was because he had a “girlfriend” that paid attention to them. This “girlfriend” took his checks when they arrived and took charge of his money, got paid to take care of him by the state since he was in bad health, and only spent half the week there, the rest of the time she drove across the state to go somewhere-who knows. They deserved each other. When he passed, she was over at his apartment with her friends loading up whatever was there. Lovely memories. She had life insurance on him that she got.
Your daughter doesn’t know the implications of being around a CD – there are no positives, but its good you see what is going on and can monitor the situation. Its good you can build a strong bond with the GS since he is living with you. I used to have my GD’s a lot and that was fun. They loved for me to tell them scary stories and take them for walks. Good memories.
Can’t someone say NO to the overnighters?
She can say no but she thinks he’s fine with him.
It sounds like she (Daughter) is deluding herself so she can have free time. I think deep down she knows knows who and what her CD father is. Otherwise, she would had stayed living with him. Now she is with the stable person (You) and offers her child. A lot of questions ???h ere. I hope, developmentally the child has your character.