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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Podcasts of Character Matters are still available on the UCY.TV YouTube website. And I’ll soon be posting a link to the latest pilot podcast for the new program still in development.

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4 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. 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.

  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.

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