Why Narcissists Always Blame Others

The Blame Game

Narcissists like to externalize blame. It’s a fundamental feature of their modus operandi. Why do they do it? Traditional viewpoints assert they simply have to. As the theory goes, it would internally decimate them to fault themselves. It would cause emotional pain too great to bear. And it could crush their “fragile” egos. So, their unconscious mind puts up defenses, Particularly, defenses of denial and projection. They may know a mess has been made. But it can’t be because of them. It has to be someone or something else’s fault. These defenses supposedly keep them from feeling anxious or loathing themselves. But are these really the reasons why narcissists blame others? Many these days think not. At least not always.

As I’ve written about before, there are two kinds of narcissists. (See: Two Main Varieties of Narcissists.) And the theories above seem to fit one of those types, at least to some degree. But the majority of narcissists these days are of a different ilk. Some folks are just plain selfish and heartless. And such folks can also be quite cruel. They may blame others for “starting it,” deserving it, or for being “just as bad.” But they don’t unconsciously do it as a defense against inner pain. They do it to justify the pain they deliberately cause others. And they do it to look better than they know they really are.

Blame and Impression Management

Narcissists always have to be right. That means others have to be wrong. That is, unless those others agree with them. Some narcissists solidly believe in their superiority. Accordingly, they always try to assert it. They want only validation and vindication. And they can seek it with enough passion and conviction to make you to doubt. They can make you feel small. They can even make you feel crazy. That’s the “gaslighting” effect. (See also: Gaslighting Victims Question Their Own Sanity.) But the reason they blame is even more sinister.

It’s easy to call out the faults of others. We’re all flawed creatures. But narcissists go on the attack for a reason. They know how others really regard them. More importantly, deep down, they know how character-deficient they are. So, they build themselves up by tearing others down. It’s all part of the game of “impression management.” Now, some are fairly skilled at this game. And some are so charming and slick about it that others get seduced. They become enamored. But certain narcissists can be downright boorish. Their impression management tactics offend the sensible. But they can succeed with the naive, vulnerable, or equally disturbed.

Blame and Shame

The old thinking was that narcissists blame to avoid shame. And, as mentioned before, this can sometimes be the case. But many narcissists today have no shame. In fact, shame and empathy deficiencies define some narcissist’s pathology. (See: Malignant Narcissism.) So, the truth is they blame only to try and justify their attacks. Dare to offend them, and as they see it, you’re a fair target. They don’t care enough about what they’re doing. Nor do they care how it makes them look doing it. They lash out without compunction. And that’s because they lack both empathy and a sense of shame.


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14 thoughts on “Why Narcissists Always Blame Others

  1. Off Topic

    I have some news, I saw my The brother and his second daughter. I had gone to the town down the road to buy some books that I wanted. I was walking back to my car through the park near the town centre. I had seen him about 300 yrds ahead. I new it was him straight away. I just kept walking to were my car was parked. He and his daughter had sat down on a bench. I got to within about 100yrds of him AND THE HE SAW ME. He virtually ran away. He grabbed his daughters hand and walked away very hastily. I just kept walking to my car.

    Narcissists hate to think anyone “has their number,” so to speak. People who always see themselves as superior to others hate to see the field of “play” (i.e. social interaction) levelled. They especially hate it when someone else in is a position of greater power or authority.

    This is why I think he walked away. Not because of fear, but because I AM INDEPENDENT and my position is now levelled.

    I will I hope have some more news later

    1. Joey,

      My first thought was guilt. I believe he knows what you went through and endured, something he was spared due to living with the father. I believe he feels guilt and dread of knowing you were the Scapegoat and he too was a party to the Scapegoating and still is… To the very end he is so cowardly and lacking in character he would rather run with his tail tucked and blame you.

      Truly, it has nothing to do with you, he is an extremely damaged and weak person. Out of all these tragedies you alone are the healthy one, even though you were the one who took all the beatings.

      Stay strong in your truth, know you have value and are of value to all of us. I am glad you said nothing and retained your integrity. I know it is difficult and painful, hold true and keep going forward.

      The truth can set one free or keep one a prisoner. You are free, he is the prisoner.

      Well done, I will keep this in mind when I may happen upon those in my family who are similar.


    2. I grew up in a narcacist relationship. My mother was the toxic demon in my home, coupled with heavy drinking and repeat psychological torture ment I never learned what normal was. My second eldest sister has all of the traits of my mother. Narcissistic personalities at first are hard to recognise. Alot of councelling helped me seperate myself from the toxic bullshit , but only after completely cutting myself from my siblings. I was the youngest and the worst affected by it. Of all of them I’m glad I’m me.

  2. Hello Dr Simon,

    I only just had an insight to do with this issue…

    I believe that one of the reasons why you approach hits the nail on the head, whilst that of traditional therapists and cultural ideas is actually damaging to the victim whilst enabling of the abuser…

    ….The insight is specifically this:- that to try to empathize with the abuser is misguided because it it in fact continuing with the distortion in perception – enabling the delusional perception of the abuser and their gross egocentricity.

    I DO believe that in the twisted and somewhat INSANE thinking of the covert narcissist, that they perceive themselves as threatened and under attack …just as psychopaths can perceive themselves as victims.
    Where the line is between abuser and victim is very difficult and treacherous to pin-point.

    But I think that for many, if not most victims, you are doing well to point them more as to what is the more correct balance. -They need to be able to meet the aggressive narcissist halfway- and push back enough to get them to back down.
    And not to withdraw inwards and become intimidated.

    …I personally find this hard to do, if for no other reason than that I am very tired. Probably most victims are exhausted and feel beaten down by having these personalities to deal with.

    For me, I am committing social suicide to some extent because I can simply no longer tolerate being near these personalities anymore.
    And I cannot take the chance that I might have to deal with a boss or supervisor who is this way – it would destroy me.

    I need to recover from the trauma of being bombarded with abuse.

    I may never return to work where I have to be in a team or enclose space with others. And I’m through with turning my self inside out and jumping through hoops in order to try to work along side people who couldn’t care less about the damage they do.

    1. I am married to a narcissist husband. It’s exhausting I can’t count on him to appease me at all & he doesn’t help around the house much, with our pets, & child… but he’ll ask you to something for him. Some days I need to stay in bed all day due to mental & physical fatigue. I am typing this right now completely tired out.

      1. Narcs don’t ever get better. Your life will never get better with a narc. Try and plan your exit, if you can, before the abuse gets to be too much. There are a lot of battered and abused women who are so damaged by abuse, they become disabled, unable to further care for themselves, hold a job, let alone take care of pets and kids as well.

        Besides, you are getting older with every day, and your narc will be atrocious to deal with in old age. Narcs discard their wives when they find new victims/supply. So look after yourself, first and foremost, as you’ll need it, to fight for custody of the child, if you choose to get away from the narc.

        I’m assuming your assessment of your husband is true and he is a narc. Narcs are abusers. Is he beating you? Is he beating you down with his words, insults, mind games, crazymaking, etc? Even if it has yet to get physical, a person can be killed by mental and emotional abuse, as verbal cruelty destroys people eventually, if severe enough.

  3. Elisa,

    It’s a major social problem! Our culture places way too much value on competitiveness and aggression at the expense of cooperation and sensitivity towards others.

    It is getting so brutal, particularly in big cities, that people are almost having to go no contact with the outside world.

    There are no simple answers. And you have to wonder what happened, what changed, what caused this sea change in the public realm.

    I know one of my sisters picked up way too much in the way of corporate “values” when she worked for a big corporation. She integrated their twisted rationalizations and management speak and ended up acting out the corporate persona of the company she worked for within her own family.

    We have reconciled recently and I think a LOT has to do with her retiring and removing herself from the all pervasive aggressive atmosphere that became the only world she really knew.

    People are being conditioned to believe the only way they can be successful in corporate culture is through ruthless domination. Though this isn’t always clearly stated, it’s the back beat, the rhythm section that the employed must dance to while forced to sing a score that includes plenty of references to cooperation and “teamwork.” Nauseating.

  4. This article is so true!! Back in 2016, I discovered my husband had started an affair and was involved in other things that made our marriage of 37 years impossible. He has obsessive compulsive personality disorder (at least that is the theory). He has always blamed me for everything…he would come home from work super late (hours late) over and over…but when I would get upset, he would tell himself that this is why he doesn’t come home on time…because I am upset. He never thinks that if he did what he should do, we would get along (just a sample of his thinking). We divorced in 2017. Then in true narcissistic form, when he called this weekend about something concerning our house, he told me that the reason he hadn’t done anything with our house (it has been sitting empty for most of a year) and didn’t want any personal stuff from our marriage (such as pictures of our daughters) was because he was still hurting and grieving from our divorce…that he had gone through depression. Are you kidding? He married his girlfriend just a couple of months after our divorce…so he has a wife and a whole new family. He sent our daughters a text the night before his wedding and told them this woman was a “God-sent” to him. He CAUSED the marriage breakdown…but HE’S grieving? Totally narcissistic!!!

  5. Sharon,
    Everything was your fault, wasn’t it? He was so perfect! This type of person – a constant headache. I had one of those. Not as long as you, it was 25+ years, oh my goodness you withstood it for 37.
    That new wife is in for a tornado.
    Doesn’t it feel good to break away from all the BS? I wish I’d done it so much sooner. Oh well. Live and learn.

    1. Yes, it does feel good to be away from it!! Every time I talk to him on the phone it makes me more glad I am done with him!! Yep…the new wife can have him. This is her 3rd marriage…the other men were physically abusive. She think she is getting a prize but eventually she will find out that his abuse is more subtle but frustrating!!

      1. Sharon,

        Lucy is so right. Look at it this way and I do feel sorry for her. The new wife just got the “booby prize.”

  6. I have been married to an undiagnosed covert narcissist but he has been diagnosed as schizoid by the navy. I have put up with his blaming me for everything. I have put up with his forcing me to have sex even when I said NO and had to push him off.

    I have had to live with the silent treatment and the constant bullshit he has done. Don’t judge me, I have been judged enough by him over 18+ years. I had to live with his double standards and “I never said that ” or “your crazy/imagining things”. I have had to live with shit I should never have lived with and no one should.

    These people walk all over people they know care and take everything then leave them with nothing but memories and nightmares of abuse.

    They need 1 person to believe them, to listen and to hear what they have been through. These people need to know they are not alone and there are others that will help. I had to call the national sexual assault hotline to hear a kind voice that would believe me and not make me feel like I am worthless as I have been told and made to feel.

    That one man made me feel better then my husband did in all the years together. I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t over emotional and I wasn’t making things up to make him look bad!!

    These people suck everything out of us and we have to figure out what’s next?

    This issue is not known about unless you go thru it, no one understands how much pain and suffering we have inside after they spit us out when they are done with us.

    Let’s help each other and make people see that these soul sucking demons are not “victims ” and are not “innocent ” as they pretend to be to the world.

    I wish there was a website that we could report these horrible empty souls to warn other about the dangers they could be in. These people destroy and kill what makes someone great and take everything to make themselves feel better for awhile.

    I am sorry for ranting but too many years of manipulation and mental abuse has made me a little angry, mostly angry at myself for not leaving his sorry ass!!

    1. I’m with you, Laurie. I don’t judge you. You are right, they are not victims, they are soul sucking demons. Mine was ex-military, too. He portrayed me as the devil, would yell complete lies for the neighbors to hear, saying how I was threatening to shoot him and all sorts of nonsense. And, because he was so evil, vicious, and violent, I didn’t dare oppose anything he yelled, nor defend myself, nothing. I got very used to being the fall person. That is what he wanted.

      I’ve wondered about creating a registry for the general public’s good. For the safety and well-being of other women. So many times the worst, most evil abusers don’t have anything on their background checks as they manage to do their evil and commit their crimes without ever being arrested or charged, let alone convicted. But others should know. Not to be vengeful or to ruin someone, but rather other women should at least have a chance at escaping and running the other way.

      It’s largely about mind control. Manipulation, deception, coercive control. And sexual assaults and rapes are more common than people would like to believe. I didn’t even get the freedom to say no, because I dare not, for fear of having it worse. But then when I’d cry he’d tell me “you choose to cry” and be even more angry and evil towards me. I became whatever he demanded of me. It’s really sickening how evil they are. Did yours beat you, too? Attempt to kill you, too?

      Mine bragged about being a demon, and bragged about how evil he was. I hope you are able to be gentle with yourself when feelings of anger towards yourself come up. Manipulation, deception, coercion, the fog of abuse, and all sorts of things keep women there. Same with fear, fear of being murdered, fear of her family being targeted and harmed.

      And like myself, I suspect others pity or ally with your abuser and hate you, wrongly seeing you as the victimizer and your abuser as the victim. Is this also happening with you?

      Lots of examples in the Bible are given of wicked, evil people. And darkness hates light. So, yes, what you say is accurate. These demonic people destroy and kill. We, the light, the caring, people are to hate evil (darkness). It’s good to talk about it. You are not ranting. I’m glad you shared.

      My abuser not only brainwashed me to believe I was crazy and imagining things, but that nobody would believe me nor care and that I was making a big deal out of nothing and wanting to fight all the time, but he had a wide array of others convinced of my supposed craziness and abusiveness. So, a lot of people have been groomed to hate me and target me and be abusers/perps by proxy. Flying monkeys. Mob violence. Whichever you prefer.

      You sound as though you still have a solid sense of self and a clear voice / point of view. That’s great, Laurie! That’s a really good thing to have. Some are so badly abused they lose the ability to speak their reality. Many abused women only know their abuser’s twisted viewpoint, and repeat what their abuser tells of them. They’ve been destroyed to that degree, Laurie. I don’t see that with you. I’m happy for you that you’ve retained your sanity and your voice.

      Good for you, too, in calling the hotline. That takes so much courage. I’m glad the person who took your call was kind, too.

      Maybe you could start a registry of sorts. I feel there has to be some way to warn other women. Abusers don’t stop abusing and creating victims, so if women would band together and share names and abuse histories and scale it, perhaps less victims would be created. Wasn’t there a ‘bad media men’ spreadsheet created for all the sexual harassers, sexual assaulters, etc. of Hollywood, tallying some 250 or so names? Something like that needs to be nationwide (and eventually worldwide). Women need to warn other women.

  7. Has anyone experienced a Narcissist that of course denies that is Who and What he is but he says/accuses/or blames EVERYONE else as being the Narcissist and he is the victim to all of us? But he is the one who lashes out, deprives of anything decent or nice, all of his life troubles and frustrations are because of all of the other Narcissists in the world that are out to get him. Also, he obsessively watches all these videos that say he is the victim to Narcissistic abuse and he needs to remove all of us from his life, and he says he believes in God but is literally the only person I habe ever met that somehow compares himself to Jesus and says what I read in scripture confirmed that he is right about being able to treat people poorly. Oh yes, and he thinks he is psychic and has special gifts that others don’t have so if he thinks something about someone it is right because he has the gift. I have NEVER experienced something so awful and painful as this and being in this relationship is killing me but I don’t know what to do??? I have no support and definitely cannot go to him for ANYTHING as I am only here for his needs when he feels he needs something from me and the rest of the time to be his emotional punching bag. His family all say the same things about him but to him they tell him he is right so they do not have to fight with him so I literally have nobody on my side. Any advice? Has anyone ever seen this before?

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