Narcissism is a personality disorder characterised by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. People with narcissistic traits often engage in deceptive and manipulative behaviour to maintain their inflated self-image and to control those around them. When a narcissist is caught in the act of their harmful behaviour, they will often resort to mind games in an attempt to regain control and avoid facing the consequences of their actions.
Why are narcissists so deceptive?
Narcissists are driven by a deep insecurity and a fear of being exposed as the frauds they truly are. They are extremely sensitive to criticism, and any threat to their carefully crafted image can lead to extreme emotional reactions. This fear of being seen as imperfect or flawed fuels their deceptive behaviour, as they will go to great lengths to maintain the facade of being superior and flawless.
Why do narcissists believe it’s okay to behave in the ways that they do?
Narcissists have an inflated sense of entitlement and believe that they are above the rules that apply to others. They see themselves as special and deserving of special treatment, which justifies their manipulative and deceptive behaviour in their own minds. They lack empathy for others and often view their actions as justified as long as it serves their own interests and bolsters their self-image.
How do narcissists believe you’ve turned against them when you discover the truth about them?
When a narcissist is caught in the act, they will often see themselves as the victim of unjust persecution. They will struggle to comprehend that their behaviour is the cause of the issue, and instead, they will believe that others are out to get them. They will perceive any attempts to hold them accountable as a betrayal and a personal attack, further fueling their manipulation in an attempt to regain control over the situation.
8 mind games narcissists play when they’ve been caught in the act:
Gaslighting is a common manipulation tactic used by narcissists to make their victims doubt their own reality. When caught in the act, a narcissist may deny the truth, distort facts, and even make their victim question their memories and sanity. For example, if a narcissistic partner is confronted about their infidelity, they may deny any wrongdoing and try to convince their partner that they are simply being paranoid.
Narcissists often project their own undesirable traits and behaviours onto others in an attempt to deflect blame and avoid taking responsibility for their actions. When caught in the act, a narcissist may accuse their victim of the very behaviour they are guilty of themselves. For example, a narcissistic parent who is neglectful of their child’s emotional needs may accuse the child of being too needy.
- Blame shifting.
Instead of acknowledging their wrongdoing, narcissists will often shift the blame onto others to avoid accountability. When caught in the act, they may point fingers at their victims or other external factors to deflect attention from their own behaviour. For example, a narcissistic friend who has betrayed your trust may blame you for being too trusting and naive.
- Guilt trips.
Narcissists are masters at using guilt to manipulate others into getting what they want. When caught in the act, they may use guilt trips to make their victims feel responsible for their behaviour or to make them doubt their decision to confront the narcissist. For example, a narcissistic partner may play the victim and guilt trip their partner by saying things like, “I can’t believe you don’t trust me after everything I’ve done for you.”
Narcissists often use triangulation to create conflict and division between their victims. When caught in the act, they may involve a third party to manipulate the situation and turn the focus away from their own behaviour. For example, a narcissistic parent may turn siblings against each other by favouring one child over the others, creating tension and competition within the family.
- Feign ignorance.
When confronted with their deceptive behaviour, narcissists may play dumb and pretend not to understand the severity of the situation. They may act confused or innocent to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. For example, a narcissistic friend who has been spreading rumours about you may act oblivious when confronted and claim they had no idea their words were hurtful.
- Play the victim.
Narcissists are adept at playing the victim in order to garner sympathy and manipulate others into feeling sorry for them. When caught in the act, they may use their victimhood to evade accountability and paint themselves as the ones who are truly suffering. For example, a narcissistic coworker who has been undermining your work may claim that they are being unfairly targeted and victimised by you.
- Temper tantrums.
When all else fails, narcissists may resort to outbursts of anger and aggression to intimidate and control their victims. When caught in the act, they may fly into a rage, hurl insults, and engage in emotional manipulation to intimidate their victim into backing down. For example, a narcissistic boss who is confronted about their unethical behaviour may lash out and threaten their employee’s job security.
- Silent treatment.
The silent treatment is a common tactic used by narcissists to punish their victims and assert control over them. When caught in the act, a narcissist may ignore their victim and withhold communication as a means of manipulation and punishment. For example, a narcissistic partner who is confronted about their lies may give their partner the silent treatment in an attempt to make them feel guilty and desperate for their attention.
What to do when you catch a narcissist out?
- Trust your instincts – If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important to trust your gut and not dismiss any red flags or suspicions.
- Seek support – It’s essential to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist for emotional support and guidance.
- Set boundaries – Establish clear boundaries with the narcissist to protect yourself from further manipulation and harm. The boundaries required to protect yourself from narcissistic people are, physical, psychological and emotional distance.
- Seek professional help – It may be necessary to seek professional help to navigate the complexities of dealing with a narcissist and to work on healing from the emotional toll of their behaviour.
- Maintain your self-worth – It’s crucial to prioritise your own well-being and self-worth and not allow the narcissist to chip away at your sense of self.
In conclusion, narcissists are skilled manipulators who will resort to mind games and deceptive tactics when they’ve been caught in the act of their harmful behaviour. It’s important to recognise the signs of manipulation and to seek support in dealing with a narcissist. By setting boundaries, trusting your instincts, and prioritising your own well-being, you can protect yourself from the destructive influence of a narcissist and work towards healing from the emotional toll of their behaviour.
The Mind Games Narcissists Play When Caught In The Act: How to Navigate Deception and Manipulation.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.