How Narcissists use Projection to Manipulate,

Psychology Explains How Narcissists Use Projection To Manipulate
PSYCHOLOGY EXPLAINS HOW NARCISSISTS USE PROJECTION TO MANIPULATE
Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissists have no real self-awareness to speak of. Indeed, their very sense of value is derived from how others perceive them. As a rule, narcissists are unable to recognize their shortcomings and failures, instead choosing to cast the blame – no matter the merits of such – onto someone else. It’s called projection – a default defense mechanism of the narcissist.

In this article, we’re going to define narcissism, projection, and how those with narcissistic tendencies use projection in order to achieve their aims. As you will read, narcissists are experts at manipulation. To this end, we’ll discuss how you can spot the narcissist, along with proactive things you can do to avoid becoming a victim of narcissistic manipulation.

WHAT IS PROJECTION?

In the field of psychology, projection – or psychological projection – is the denial of subconscious impulses by the human ego. For instance, someone accusing their partner of cheating when they’re actually the one engaging in the scandalous act is projecting. A jealous co-worker who accuses everyone else in the office of being jealous is projecting; secretly, they’re jealous of just about everyone with a modicum of success. And so on.

While common among the narcissistic, projecting is something that we all do to varying degrees. We usually project onto others when we have uncomfortable, sometimes disturbing, emotions, and thoughts about ourselves. The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, believed that we project things onto others when we don’t want to burden ourselves with our perceived flaws or feelings of inferiority.

In other words, we want others to be the vehicles for our insecurities. We don’t want to deal with them anymore.

The thing is: while we all project, we don’t make a habit out of it. Most of us wouldn’t use projection to make someone feel inferior. We certainly wouldn’t employ projection as a means of coercion. Because, well, you’re not a narcissist (we don’t think.)

Speaking of which, let’s discuss narcissistic personality disorder in a tad more detail.

THE STORY OF NARCISSUS (THE OG NARCISSIST)

The ancient Greeks and Romans promulgated a myth about a young lad a wee too obsessed with his image. The story goes that Narcissus was a handsome guy who rejected all female comers.  In fact, Narcissus rejected all of those who loved him, leading some of those he loved to take their own lives as a last effort to show Narcissus their devotion and love.

None of this moved the vain young man, however, which led the Goddess Nemesis to punish Narcissus for his callousness. The story ends with Narcissus getting a glimpse of himself in a lake, which reflected back an image showing him in the prime of his beauty. Narcissus fell in love with his own image, eventually realizing that nothing could love him as much as he could love himself. Nemesis takes his own life shortly after this realization.

NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER

In the late 1800s, psychologists decided that the vain Narcissus was an apt representation of some of their clients. A sexologist by the name of Havelock Ellis coined the term “narcissus-like” to describe his patients engaging in excessive masturbation.

In 1911, an Austrian psychiatrist by the name of Otto Rank published the first academic paper proposing narcissism as a potential psychological disorder. Rank described narcissism in the context of excessive self-admiration and vanity. Three years later, Freud published the paper On Narcissism: An Introduction.

“…a personality disorder with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.”

Clinical treatment of NPD is not well-studied but is thought to be difficult – as those with NPD are unable to see their condition as a problem. NPD occurs more often in males, affects roughly one percent of the population, and is far more common in younger people than older.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) – the diagnostic literature published by the American Psychological Association (APA) – lists ten recognized symptoms of NPD:https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.432.0_en.html#goog_154395631000:00 of 09:01Volume 90%This video will resume in 4 seconds 

  1. A sense of grandiosity
  2. Expecting superior treatment from others
  3. Exploiting others for personal gain without feelings of guilt
  4. An inability to understand the thoughts and feelings of others
  5. Strong feelings of envy towards others
  6. Constantly engaging in the bullying, belittling, and demeaning of others
  7. A sense of entitlement and the need to be treated special
  8. The need to be perceived as superior and unique
  9. Obsession over desired traits such as attractiveness, intelligence, power, and success
  10. The need to be constant admiration from other people
NARCISSISTS + PROJECTION = MANIPULATION

“When the [narcissistic] individual is in the superior position, defending against shame, the grandiose self aligns with the inner critic and devalues others through projection.” – Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT (source)

HERE’S HOW NARCISSISTS USE PROJECTION TO MANIPULATE YOU (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT):
1. THEY “CALL YOU OUT”

Perhaps the most straightforward way to project is to call someone out. When a narcissist calls you out, you can bet they’re doing so for one of two reasons: (a) to get you to do something, (b) to attack you, or both. Guilt-tripping is among the most common methods narcissists use. If that doesn’t work, they may get frustrated and verbally attack you.

What to do: In any case, don’t take the bait. Recognize the behavior for what it is: a shameless, insulting attempt to manipulate your thoughts and feelings. You have something they want – don’t give it to them!

2. THEY MIMIC

While narcissists have the emotional depth of a puddle, they’re smart enough (many are highly intelligent) to know that emotionality matters to people. For this reason, narcissists will often mimic the emotional behaviors that they see elsewhere to convince someone of their genuine nature.

For the narcissist, the problem with this tactic is that mimicry goes against the grain of innate human behavior. Assuming that they’re not some CIA-trained spy, the entire façade will become apparent sooner or later.

What to do: Be observant. Someone’s core personality will always make itself known. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open.

3. THEY USE CHARACTER ASSASSINATION

If you’ve ever been the victim of character assassination, then you may know the far-reaching effects. Targeting someone’s character is the ultimate “go for the jugular” act. When a narcissist engages in character assassination, it’s often out of vengeance, or for the purpose of winning people over for some reason.

What to do: The most important thing here is not to panic. Most have pretty good sense when it comes to getting a feel for someone’s character. For this reason, we’re naturally cautious when someone verbally attacks another’s person. If these things are occurring in a work environment, it may be necessary to speak with your manager, human resources, or the legal department.

4. THEY PLAY THE VICTIM

Narcissists love to play the victim. At first, anyway. Why? Because they realize that most of us have some kind of sensitive core. We don’t like to see other people suffer. We want to help alleviate that suffering. Narcissists are all too eager to take advantage of this near-universal human trait. For this reason, the narcissist will project a “Woe is me” demeanor as well.

Some less-intelligent narcissists make the critical error of playing the victim to one person. If this is the case, it’s much easier to see through the charade.

What to do: It’s important to remain observant and keep your ear to the ground. If you’re particularly sensitive (e.g., an empath), make sure that you’re offering your assistance only to people you know well.

3. THEY SHAPE SHIFT

When a narcissist feels that they’ve got the victim where they want, they’ll quickly drop the act. They do so because they’re confident that the victim will offer little if any resistance. Indeed, this is often the last opportunity that the potential – or, by this point, possibly real – the victim will have to minimize the damage.

If you catch onto the shape-shifting, don’t expect the narcissist to go quietly into the night. Remember, narcissists are experts in the art of manipulation – and they may still be able to flummox you just enough that you’ll keep them around.

FINAL BIT OF ADVICE ON DEALING WITH NARCISSISTS

At this juncture, it is critical that you not hesitate to “end it.” Unless that person has some undiagnosed mental health disorder, there’s just no rational explanation for displaying extremes along the personality spectrum. Particularly if you’re being hurt in the interim.

Power of Positivity

Unprocessed Toxic Childhood Shame

By Darius Cikanavicius

Toxic shame is one of the most common debilitating feelings that people struggle with.

Toxic shame is a term that refers to a chronic feeling or emotional state of feeling bad, worthless, inferior, and fundamentally flawed. It is called toxic because it is unjust, whereas healthy shame is when we do something morally wrong, such as aggressing against others.

The origins of toxic shame

Toxic shame has its roots in trauma. Trauma is a word that people either don’t think much about or they associate it with something extreme, like broken bones or severe sexual abuse. While these things are indeed very traumatic, there are a lot of traumatic experiences that people don’t recognize as trauma. That’s why many people struggle to understand how things like childhood neglect can be a form of abuse and trauma.

In most cases, it is trauma a person experienced in their childhood and adolescence. Moreover, this trauma was experienced in a repeated fashion and wasn’t processed as such nor healed. So the person was conditioned into routinely feeling ashamed when there was nothing or very little to be ashamed of.

Regarding toxic shame specifically, it develops because an individual’s primary caregivers or other important figures routinely shamed, or punished them either passively or actively. Such a person internalized those hurtful and untrue words and behaviors, and it became their understanding of who they are as a person.

Toxic shame beliefs and emotional states

Some common beliefs a person suffering from toxic shame may have include:

I am unlovable; I don’t matter; everything is my fault; I can’t do anything right; I don’t deserve good things; I was a bad child; I deserve to be treated the way others treat me; I’m a bad person; my needs and wants are not important; nobody likes me; I can’t be myself around others; I have to hide my true emotions and thoughts; I’m never good enough.

We explored the topic more in a previous article titled 5 Beliefs People with Adverse Upbringing Have about Themselves.

It is common for a shame-ridden person to also suffer from chronic anxiety and low self-esteem. Some people cope by hurting or not taking care of themselves, while some hurt other people and become highly antisocial and narcissistic.

Toxic shame is often accompanied by toxic guilt, where the person feels unjust responsibility and guilt. So the person not only feels ashamed, but also guilty for things they are not actually responsible for. They also feel responsible for other people’s emotions, and feel ashamed and guilty when other people are unhappy, especially if it’s in some way related to them.

It’s common that shame-ridden people lack a sense of self and are dominated by their false-self, which is a combination of adaptation techniques and coping mechanisms that they developed to deal with their unresolved trauma. As I write in the book Human Development and Trauma:

“This early erasure of self often develops into an internalized practice of self-erasure in later life, or various other emotional problems like the inability to name emotions, the presence of guilt or shame about feeling emotion, or a general numbness surrounding emotion.”

Toxic shame behaviors

Lack of healthy self-love. Because such a person usually suffers from low self-esteem and overt or covert self-loathing, these things manifest themselves in poor self-care, self-harm, lack of empathy, inadequate social skills, and more.

Emptiness. The person also feels chronic emptinessloneliness, and a lack of motivation. They don’t want to do anything, don’t have any active goals, and do things only to distract themselves from how they feel.

Perfectionism. A lot of people who struggle with toxic shame are also highly perfectionistic because as children they were held to unrealistic standards and punished and shamed for failing to meet them.

Narcissism. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who develop grandiose fantasies about how they will become rich, famous, powerful, and conquer the world, believing it will make those painful feelings go away, which is not what happens even if they succeed.

Unhealthy relationships. Many people suffering from toxic shame have unhealthy relationships because they don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like. Or they are incapable of building and maintaining one.

Usually they settle for a “good enough” relationship, where both parties are highly unhappy but are too weak, in their own way, to pursue true happiness. Sometimes, again, it’s because they believe they don’t deserve anything better. Also, the relationship is a decent way to cope with all the unbearable painful feelings that come up when the person is alone.

Susceptibility to manipulation. Since they are ridden with toxic shame, guilt, loneliness, and inadequacy, manipulators can push those exact buttons to make them feel those exact emotions and then they will do what the manipulators want to get rid of that painful emotion.

“Why are you hurting me?” “Don’t you want to be a part of us instead of being a lonely loser?” “This product will finally make you look beautiful.” “It’s all your fault.” There are many examples of things abusers and manipulators say.

Summary and final words

Children who experience trauma often feel shame. Since this shame is usually unidentified and unaddressed, the child grows into an adult who suffers from a chronic shame.

Toxic shame is closely related to other emotional states and beliefs, including low self-esteem, self-loathing, chronic guilt, unresolved anger, and never feeling good enough.

Consequently, these mental states result in unhealthy behavior, including acting out, hurting others, feeling responsible for others, self-erasing, having toxic relationships, poor self-care, poor boundaries, being overly sensitive to other people’s perception of them, being susceptible to manipulation and exploitation, and many others.

All these painful, unprocessed emotions actually belong in the context of their childhood environment where they were initially hurt and violated, but they are currently unable to make that connection and resolve it, so they deal with them in the ways they learned: actively or passively hurting themselves or others, or both.

Psych Central

Sexual Harassment

In the workplace as a young woman of 17 years of age, I witnessed and experienced sexual harassment of women by men. When I consulted mature women in the workplace, I was advised to ‘turn a blind eye’ if you wished to keep your place of employment. There have been occasions when I have spoken out and lost employment or friendships.

In my social and performance life, I have also spoken out about ‘sexist’ behaviour and sexual harrassment only to be the target of aggression by the guilty party who then created false rumours to divert the attention away from themselves.

This is a widespread problem for women and also one of the reasons clients consult us.

Image – Counselling

If you’re interested in sexuality, consider the following scenario. It’s a COMPOSITE of various situations that recur at conferences and other large gatherings. It’s particularly important that people interested in progressive politics and gender relations work this out. Again, this is a COMPOSITE–the way therapists write about cases, changing some details and adding others.

A while back I attended the national conference of a large progressive organization. It was well-organized, stimulating, and fun. The people were mostly energetic, interesting, and friendly; it was a good mix of ages, sexual orientations, and divided almost 50/50 male-female.

I was eventually asked, as a sex therapist, what I thought about Sexual Harassment. Apparently a couple at last year’s conference had approached a particular woman in her mid-30s. Eventually “Mary & John” handed the woman their card—suggesting quite clearly that they were “open” to “adult activities.”

The woman didn’t want to share this kind of fun, which of course is perfectly fine. But she was somehow “offended,” which is unfortunate. In fact, the woman felt that this invitation constituted Sexual Harassment, and she complained. Dissatisfied and emotionally distressed, this previously loyal movement member blogged about it, urging her female readers to stay away from the organization. Now the word is out to younger progressive women—don’t go to this group’s conferences.

So the leadership of said organization is scurrying around, trying to figure out what to do. “About what?” I asked. Apparently,

* Some people want a policy on Sexual Harassment
* Some people want a zero-tolerance policy on Sexual Harassment—one COMPLAINT and you’re out
* Some people want to issue a statement about the organization’s policy on Sexual Harassment
* Some people want to persuade this woman to attend next year’s conference
* Some people want to persuade this woman to stop trashing the organization

For someone who didn’t want one kind of attention, this woman has certainly managed to get plenty of another kind of attention.

This woman—and the more intimidated members of the organization—need a history lesson. In the Bad Old Days, people—men—with institutional power (professors, bosses, doctors) used sex as a bargaining chip. “Sleep with me and you’ll get ahead,” some of them told the women who reported to them. “Refuse me and you won’t.” It was ugly. It was How Things Are Done. You can see it in the show Mad Men.

In the 1970s, women began to sue their employers under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Women demanded an end to the discrimination (“put out or get out”), and to the maintenance of hostile work or learning environments created by continuous sexual pressure. Nowadays, both kinds of pressure are considered unacceptable in most American institutions, and both employees and employers (and students and professors, etc.) have some sense of this.

But Sexual Harassment law was never designed to protect women from merely feeling uncomfortable. In a typical workday, men and women alike face many sources of discomfort: atheists face clerks wearing crosses; able-bodied people face colleagues in wheelchairs; Fundamentalist Muslims and Jews face professors dressed with arms and legs uncovered; the infertile face coworkers’ desks with photos of their kids, and parents are given time off for parenting events such as piano recitals.

No, the law is designed to simply create a level playing field of opportunity—not of emotional experience. It doesn’t require anyone to be a mind-reader, it doesn’t undo the normal uncertainties of social interaction, and it doesn’t require anyone’s social skills to be smooth as silk. Occasionally feeling offended is still considered part of the cost of being out in the world.

So what did that young woman experience? Not Sexual Harassment, but Unwanted Sexual Attention. And when the woman made it clear it was unwanted, the attention went away. That should have been the end of the story. But if the recipient of a friendly, non-pressuring, non-institutional (and OK, let’s say clumsy or even stupid) sexual invitation isn’t grown up enough, she (or he) will feel assaulted. And with today’s heightened consciousness—and internet access—she will have the option of describing herself as victimized to a large number of people.

And yet why do we privilege unwanted attention that happens to involve sexuality? Again, we’re not talking about coercion or even pressure—we’re talking about attention, invitation, or suggestion that has no connection with real-world consequences like job evaluation. Adults are the recipients of unwanted attention every single day: stories from strangers on airplanes, awkward compliments from co-workers, grocery clerks sympathetically inquiring about the brace on your wrist or that cold medicine you’re buying, Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormon missionaries asking if they can talk with you for a just a moment about their Invisible Friend In The Sky.

Unwanted attention—whether sexual or non-sexual—is part of the cost of stepping outside your front door. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, you don’t even have to go out—you get the attention by just opening the door. When American society privileges our discomfort if the unwanted attention is sexual, that’s more about our cultural values than about any inherent hierarchy of discomfort.

Read more here:

Psychology Today

Dealing with Narcissistic Children

I deal with many clients who have this problem and when it occurs within your family, this article provides good advice on how to deal with it.

There are a few signs of narcissistic behavior that parents should watch out for:

Inflated ego: The narcissist has a huge ego.  Narcissistic adult children demand that you do what they want, try to control you, and push every boundary. Every time you give them what they want, they demand something else.  They say your job is to make them happy.

Need for validation: A narcissist needs constant admiration. Often, they need praise for simple tasks, like making an appearance at your birthday party. You may find yourself giving your narcissistic adult child an inordinate amount of praise over something that’s a normal and expected part of family life.

A sense of entitlement: The narcissist feels entitled to things they should have to work for. For example, they may demand ridiculous things like financial support well into adulthood. Or, tasks they should be doing themselves, but you find yourself performing…such as doing their laundry and folding their clothes, filling out their job applications, calling into work sick for them, or fixing their breakfast or lunch to take to work.

Exploitation: A narcissist acts without conscience, thinking only of themselves. They lie, trick and steal to get what they want. This exploitation can be glaringly obvious or very subtle, so be on the lookout if you feel used. This may manifest as their throwing temper tantrums, blackmailing you by withholding their love or your grandchildren, trying to entice you with sweetness and affection when they want something, and blaming their behavior on you.

Distorted thinking: A narcissist occupies a fantastical world where he or she is the greatest and most important person in the universe. In order to maintain the fantasy, narcissists lie. They often deny things that are obvious. They may make up fantastical tales to support the fantasy.

Unpleasant personality: Contempt and belittlement are the narcissists’ tools of choice. When they feel threatened by success, they get mean. Watch out for those who are constantly putting down other peoples’ accomplishments. You may find your narcissistic adult child talking badly about their friends behind their backs, but pretending to care for them when these same friends come around

Read more here:

How to Handle Adult Narcissistic Children