Credit: The Context of Things

Is it Narcissism or is it normal?

24 mins read

There is a whole world out there on the big web where masses of victims come together and talk about their abusers. Narcissism is not only a character trait that we jokingly caption our selfies with, it is an actual problem, which is diagnostically recognised in the world of psychology. Books are being written about how our generation is being pushed and paced to think: me, me, me!

Especially in capitalist countries, where individualism is becoming the preferred life ideology over collectivism and togetherness, the narcissistic personality traits and tendencies are on the rise. We are allegedly breeding a generation of narcissists.

When you hurt someone’s feelings, you’re taught to apologise – not to mean it, or to learn from it, or even to put yourself in their shoes. We have an enormous responsibility to each other, and to teach our children empathy, especially with a growing population and a skyrocketing Information Age, where privacy is plummeting.

Maybe that is what scares us, and we choose to go to the other extreme: only care about me? This isn’t good enough. Cases of diagnosis are at a low, possibly because narcissists know how to hide things and change themselves, but I guarantee you that you will recognise one or two of the tendencies in someone you know, or have encountered.

What constitutes a psychological diagnosis is not having one tendency, but having consistent particular tendencies that characterise a problem in some area of coping with the world, or viewing oneself, so the fact that tendencies of narcissism are on the rise does not mean that we have nothing to worry about. On the contrary, now is when we should be working towards fixing our relationships with one another, and socialising differently.

Credit: The Context of Things

The following is a story from an anonymous writer, submitted to us via BrigAid, which we have chosen to base this article on so that more of you can be aware of the signs:

It’s [narcissism is] constantly being disrespected, invalidated and hurt by someone you love – and constantly being reeled back in when you think you might finally be able to leave because it’s too much to handle. Many people get sucked back into the relationship again at this point.

‘After all, you reason’, ‘what if they really have changed? Won’t I regret it forever if I do not give them a chance now?’ At this point, you are choosing to ignore everything that you know about this person on the slim chance that they have somehow magically transformed themselves into a decent and reliable human being who actually cares about you. You might’ve already given them a million second chances, but you still have hope, cause how can someone say so many things that seem so heartfelt but not actually mean them?

Being criticised just the slightest can throw the narcissist completely off – any type of resistance or if someone does not like them, he or she will instantly remove them from their life – usually in the form of removing as a friend on social media, blocking, and just ignoring them in public. This also happens if the narcissist feels threatened and like they are going to be exposed for all the things they do carelessly towards other people. One example I’ve heard was: ‘I never gave a shit how she felt. I don’t care if I hurt her, I never cared about how she felt.’

However, the most important sign of a narcissist is the invalidating, and how they have no true feelings. Narcissists know how to pretend to have feelings, though – in order to seem more trustworthy, but once you truly get to know them, when you’re the closest to them compared to his or her other friends – you’re treated completely differently. They have learned how to mimic emotions in order for them to seem more believable.

You should think that as a partner you’d be treated like they’re in love with you, not like they’re in love with everyone around you. Instead, they act like they’re trying to charm everyone else, whilst just once in a while making sure you’re still hooked. If they see you slipping away or if you seem like you are beginning to care less, they’ll begin their love bombing, compliments and reassuring – this lasts only a few days.

Lies are told constantly so you no longer believe anything that is said. You feel confused, paranoid – and you begin to act crazy because you don’t understand why someone that claims to love you, can disrespect you so much. And how does the narcissist respond to your ‘crazy’ feelings?

They shame you for feeling that way, as if they weren’t the ones that caused it. They then make you believe that you’re actually the issue. Unless you’re incredibly strong, you won’t give in and you won’t believe it – but then again, if you were strong enough to begin with you would’ve left at the first red flag. Narcissists do not want to believe that they ever do anything wrong.

For example: confront him and say you are sad, and then he would begin to yell at you and say that you shouldn’t have looked at his phone, and that you are crazy. You then end up apologising because he would eventually have you convinced that it was wrong of you to look at his phone (and find something that he clearly wanted to hide) but still manage to manipulate you into thinking you did something wrong, when really, you should be the one who is angry, not him.

So you are the crazy one – and if you didn’t stop being crazy, then he would leave – and you were too scared of being lonely for that to happen. See, the thing is – being told so many times that no one was ever going to love you like he did – that just builds on your insecurity even more. That if he left, you’d be alone forever.

Many people feel hopeless after an experience with a narcissist. They make you fall for their false persona and this charm that they can use to make everyone else fall for them as well – but once they get you hooked, it’s so difficult to get out. This is called trauma bonding.

You get ‘addicted’ to the narcissist – because sometimes you are given a lot of affection and then suddenly it’s gone. You then feel like you are doing something wrong for that to happen, and so you try to do anything to make him act like he wants you again. That doesn’t happen. Only once he sees you’re slipping away, he will say all the sweet little words again, and you’ll believe it. Narcissists know exactly who they can weave their web of dysfunction around and who they can’t. This is simply to make it look as though the other person is delusional so they can keep up their manipulative behaviour without being questioned. This can make it difficult to seek support as others may struggle to grasp the situation.


Now I know that that was not love, in any way. I was being used because he knew that my life almost revolved around him. He knew that I was weak and insecure and that I truly believed I couldn’t find anyone else, that it was a miracle anyone wanted to be with me, and he could take advantage of that. I could give him so much attention and always forgive him for his ‘mistakes’ because he knew what to say to get me to come back.

He knew I was too scared of leaving, and being alone. He knew he could make me think I needed him. It was a mistake to even start a relationship, as it began with him sleeping with someone else the day he first told me he ‘loved’ me. Here, he first lied about it and said that I had done something similar – which is somewhat true, I had kissed someone else a few months before. He said, ‘You did the same, and that hurt even more.’ Then I began apologising – until someone else told me what really happened here, and it was not normal.

The fact that he lied and tried to make me feel bad for what I did when he had actually done much worse, even if / because it was a retaliation, should’ve been a big enough red flag for anyone. But I was sadly stupid, I was insecure and I believed the simple words ‘I promise I’ll do anything to prove that I’m sorry.’ I had no idea anyone could be like this. The list goes on, showing how much he did that proved he was untrustworthy, yet he claimed to love me.

He got aggressive when his secret life behind the lies was being revealed or discovered by me, hitting my car, spitting and screaming the c word at me. They can guilt you into the most insignificant things, that will now be stuck in your mind forever because they crossed all your boundaries of consensual anything.
They will break your heart, beat you up emotionally, betray you, whatever – and it will be a painful traumatic event for you.

You expect then to have your best interest at heart, and that if they only knew how they hurt you, it would stop. So you go to them for relief from the pain, but you are going to the person causing the trauma for relief, and any relief you get will be fleeting. It might even just be the relief you get from telling them what issue you have, mistaking them for people who actually give a rats ass how you feel and want to do something to relieve your pain. They, in fact, do not care for your feelings and barely know they exist. You could actually be telling your worst enemy how well they are doing hurting you and where to attack next.

I have learnt so incredibly much from this, and thought I would be weaker, and hurting – but I’m stronger now, and I know what I am worth. Nobody is worth disrespecting yourself for – know your worth, and be kind and honest, don’t adopt their behaviours to shield yourself.


Credit: Highsnobiety

The scientifically documented traumas you can experience from emotional abuse include acute or chronic illness, self-esteem issues, trouble trusting people’s motives or actions, and even adopting some of the abuser’s mannerisms to protect yourself. Check this list for typical behaviours of narcissists and emotional abusers, so that you may avoid these traumas:

  1. Gaslighting – does something, denies it, and claims you are crazy for knowing.
  2. Love-bombing – idolising you at first sight, until they know they have you wrapped around their finger, and they turn into a different person. They become their old self when they feel you letting go, so that you are trapped in a circle of confusion that you will not be able to get out of without significant effort or help.
  3. Projecting – saying you’re doing something you’re not / that they’re doing themselves; their form of guilt and knowledge that what goes around comes around. They’re making sure you’re not their equal in this way, and that they have the power.
  4. Hoovering – similar to love-bombing, this version can be done by a family member, literally vacuuming you back in before you can get away, or after you have managed to, by faking injury, reaching out to other family or friends with a nice-mask on, so that they will contact you for them, Love-bombing, or trying to convince you they have changed, and giving you gifts, provoking a response from you by guilting or shaming you into speaking to them, and many other more specific and personalised tactics.

Finally, all of this is Grooming – their way of settling you into a new life, one where you have been trained to live with their standards and bad treatment of you as if they were norms. They manoeuvre you into an isolated position so that you will not realise this isn’t the norm. They may force you to open up to them, to share what people in your life say about them, or to give everything you have to them so that you are dependent.

If you can check most of these off, and they ring a bell, don’t let that thought go, and as our writer says, don’t reach out to them if you aren’t strong-willed enough to see through their manipulative behaviours without adopting their distorted view on life and lack of empathy.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has been a huge topic of concern within the field of psychology in the past few decades. Research shows that possible sources of the self-obsession that characterises it could be due to social stimuli, learning by parents’ perceived failures, or internal false schemas, meaning they have a different, more self-centred logic than others. They would not, for example understand the tit for tat principle, like what goes around comes around, because they feel entitled, or are unaware of equal ability between all people.

Equality and empathy are things that are lacking with the leaders of this world, who sadly set the course and tone for the rest of society. If we all act like we matter most, without a correct self-awareness and self-love that we can give to the world, what would it be like? Watch what happens in Bruce Almighty, the Handmaid’s Tale, and read stories from survivors of the abuse to get a taste.

“Echo and Narcissus” Credit: John Waterhouse via James Sapsard

The difference between normal selfishness, or inability to empathise in the moment, is different from narcissistic neglect, in that a narcissist will never change for you no matter how much you are hurting. They cannot empathise, because somehow, their own traumatic, insidious pain fills more than anyone else’s. Know the difference well, do your research, and pay attention to whether their responses are a one-off, or a pattern. If you then are certain that you are dealing with a narcissist, and not just someone being unkind in a situation or two, remove yourself as fast as you can; because they will try to Hoover you back in.

You can keep yourself safe by avoiding people that exhibit these draining traits. However, do not shut yourself off emotionally out of fear that everyone you meet is a narcissist, or means to harm you. Below are a few things you can do if you have to deal with them until you can remove them from your life:

  1. “I’ll believe it when I see it”
    Sometimes it’s not about what they want you to do, so much as what they want you to let them do. Let them know next time they make an empty promise, that you will believe it when they prove it with actions. It’ll throw them off, and possibly even make them step up to it – but it won’t last.
  2. Don’t show fear, but don’t challenge
    Narcissists rarely show emotion. Genuine hurt is usually seen by crying or rage accompanied by crying, but when they voice false concerns to control you, they will rarely show genuine emotion. They are usually cowards, but do not provoke them by telling them you aren’t afraid. Remain calm, and look them straight in the eyes without saying anything. Even better if you throw them a confused look, as if you’re trying to figure out what they’re thinking – they don’t want anyone knowing this, so they will likely become uncomfortable.
  3. Language is key
    The power of language to exert power or change someone’s mind is also something the narcissist uses – use it against them, too. If they give you silent treatment, give it back. If they try to shame or bully you, assert yourself calmly, don’t let them feel that you are surrendering. Stand tall, because body language matters, and use their name when addressing them. Let them scream and spit, while you keep your cool. You’ll likely know they are a narcissist if they won’t communicate with you at all – they won’t consider your happiness, and will stonewall you until you let them do what they want. Compromise doesn’t exist to them.

Now we hope that you are prepared to recognise the signs and deal with it calmly and swiftly. Whether in your family, or as a lover, a narcissist or any type of emotional abuser can wreak havoc in your life, and flip it upside down without you even realising – until they have disposed of you in the cruelest way, if they ever let you out.

If you think you may be experiencing emotional abuse, manipulation, or narcissistic abuse, please reach out for help.

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Welcome to my hectic, mixed world. I lack bias like it is a disease. Former Editor at Brig Newspaper, Psychology & English student, autoimmune.

Welcome to my hectic, mixed world. I lack bias like it is a disease. Former Editor at Brig Newspaper, Psychology & English student, autoimmune.

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