Narcissists always have to be right. Anyone living or working with a narcissist can tell you this. Sure, you may catch them in what you know to be an error. But they always seem to have an answer. They’ll start twisting the facts until they finally fit their narrative. Then they’ll claim those twisted facts prove they were right all along. In a way, this all seems so silly. After all, we’re all human, and humans make mistakes. So why can’t some of us just admit it? All this can be really frustrating, too. Getting a narcissist to admit they’re wrong (i.e. only human) can seem an almost impossible task. This begs the question of why narcissists always have to be right.
For a long time, we thought all narcissists had a fragile self-image. And we believed their sense of self-worth was so tenuous that it would devastate their tender egos to admit fault or error. Moreover, we believed they were unconscious about the defenses they raised that kept them from seeing and admitting the truth.
We also thought all narcissists were quite sensitive and anxious about being vulnerable. We saw them as necessarily insecure folks, desperately trying to feel safe. And admitting error can certainly make a person feel vulnerable. So, we thought it simply too frightening for a narcissist to admit a mistake. And we also thought they were completely oblivious about the ways they defended themselves against this vulnerability.
The Real Heart of the Problem
We’ve come to realize how wrong we’ve been wrong about the majority of narcissists. True, some narcissists are of the “vulnerable” type. (See also: Two Main Varieties of Narcissists.) But many others are of the more “grandiose” type. And real reason such narcissists always have to be right is rooting in their inflated sense of self. They don’t recognize any “higher powers” or authority. And they ardently resist subordinating themselves – to anyone or anything. They see themselves as “special” and superior. So they refuse to identify with we ordinary folks who get it wrong sometimes.
The Tragedy of the Lie
Grandiose narcissists can promote their image of greatness and infallibility with passion. And sadly, their unwavering conviction can mesmerize over time. This is part of the gaslighting effect. (See: pp. 133-134 in In Sheep’s Clothing.) (See also: How Manipulative Characters Gaslight.) Before long, others can become convinced of the grandiose narcissist’s professed greatness and rightness. And that’s when really bad things can happen.
Narcissists affect others in many negative ways. Sadly, they also affect the children they might raise. So, over the coming weeks, I’m going to be exploring a topic rarely discussed. We’re going to explore what it can mean to be an adult child of a narcissist. Adult children of narcissists often have some interesting things in common. And we’ll be taking a look at some of them in the coming weeks.