This explains the allure of AA and 12 Step fellowship to a narcissist… the applause and the spotlight. This also explains the sense of entitlement they have by believing theirs is the right way, and how dare you say AA doesn’t work. Yet, the same rules they expect you to follow don’t apply to them. You must be selfless and giving, and never say no to anything asked of you in AA; Meanwhile, the narcissistic AA member can talk this talk but can’t walk the walk. They only say they are humble because it the “right” answer, not because they are humble.

A great read on the masks narcissists wear. Enjoyed this blog very, very much. Happy to share it with all of you.

After Narcissistic Abuse

The Show-Off

When presented with the “show-off”, recognize that1showoffyou are in the company of someone who HUNGERS for the adoration and envy of others. You’ll see these people on social media, frequently posting photos of themselves, in provocative and titillating poses (female) and in various scenerios showing how “magnificent” and “aesthetically pleasing” their lives are. Add to that, the retweets and shares of the flattering “Oohs and Aahs” and you have someone who’s quite literally STARVING.

Even someone who feigns the ole self depracating comments and gestures are showing-off how “selfless” they are. Bologna. Self-efficacy and quiet charm can be just as narcissistic as braggadocia. Remember the “motive”: ADORATION. They don’t care if they get it from playing the loud guy/gal or being the very well admired “quite guy” or “shy girl”.

These people have learned that if they can impress you with some talent, skill, or sexuality, they…

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12 thoughts on “The Four Most Common Masks Worn by The Narcissist

  1. I’d be interested in how to deal with people who falsely accuse others of these behavior patterns. Example: You go to an office party wearing a Christmas sweater vest, wanting to be in the spirit of things, and a coworker accuses you of “demanding” attention with all those spangles and reindeer. Example: Someone you just met through a friend offers you a cookie, you don’t like it but you take it to be polite, then she reaches over and grabs a cracker off your plate without warning. You say, why did you do that, and she says, oh, I assumed you understood, sharing is supposed to be reciprocal. Example: You walk into a meeting beaming with joy that you got a promotion, and you tell a friend about it from across a near-empty room, just being cheerful. A man announces that “you think it’s always about you.” Example: Someone hits on you, you say no, he tries again every time he sees you, you glare at him and warn him to stay away, he smirks and says in a tone as if catching you out, that you are giving him “a seductive look” and therefore are trying to manipulate him with “mixed signals.” You scream at him to go away in the desperate hope of attracting rescue and he accuses you of “aggression, paranoia and sudden rage”. Are the accusers narcissists themselves, or paranoid, or is there any way to know? Is it necessary to know what’s wrong with them, or is there a good way to deal with them without having to understand?

  2. Interesting… For the case of being wrongly accused of narcissism for being festive in a Christmas Sweater, I’d point to that commenter as being a bit a.) jealous or at least b.) not in the holiday spirit so taking their bad mood out on you. Now, if Christmas sweater person is always being the center of attention, whenever it is, at every event, that’s the person we’re talking about… Not everyone is the same, though. (We are all mild narcissists, we all like a bit of positive attention— some of us avoid it like the plague and that’s the opposite of narcissism— we find it difficult to accept any compliments, we feel undeserving.)

    A narcissist feigns feeling undeserving, because they also like to hear compliments repeatedly and pretend to be humble. “Oh, you noticed my new necklace? This old thing? I paid 500 for it. But really, I worked so hard for it, I wanted to treat myself. I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging, I’m not.” Over-the-top with their humbleness— that’s usually narcissism.

    The cookie giver/ cracker grabber seems to lack manners and boundaries. Again— IF that is a repeated trait of theirs then that’s a problem. I think we all have made mistakes with our manners. The cracker grab might be “cute” and “ok” with a significant other or best friend who gets one’s quirks, but a co-worker or acquaintance will see it as overstepping boundaries of politeness.

    As for the repeated hitting-on-you guy (or girl) who can’t take a no, they make up all sorts of excuses how it’s somehow your mixed signals causing their behaviors. That’s bullsh*t. He/she’s projecting their aggressiveness onto you. That makes you the mirror to their emotions. They’d be the Bully Mask, for one thing. They cannot be accused of being aggressive- but they have no problem victim blaming others or accusing them of being aggressive and at fault.

    I think there are over-used labels, narcissists is one of them. Let’s say there are 5% or 10% of alcoholics are in AA— that’s about 2 million people out of 20 some million people or more. Now, of that 10% maybe only 2% are narcissists. Or less. Or more. But narcissists are dominating, they thrive on control, they fake humility— they love AA in a creepy, loyal way and any criticism of AA is a personal offense to them. Then they use the AA literature and sayings against the others. Accusing them of dying without AA. Sounds more like an abusive romance, “No one will ever love or help you more than AA can, if you leave, you’ll never be happy without AA.” That’s the kind of AA narcissist abuse I talk about, and that I’ve experienced. It’s like working for a boss who is unable to see that their decisions are hurting the business, who doggedly insist on their way or no way at all, and then blame the lower employees for ruining the bottom line. They don’t listen to suggestions or input or advice from someone they consider “beneath them.”

    When an AA member is unable to listen to criticism about AA, that is a huge problem. The loyalty is narcissistic. These power hungry members instill a religious devotion and fear into the other 8% of members. These members believe if AA were to change any part of their literature their sobriety and lives would fall apart. I consider this brainwashing. Part of that 8% tries in vain to speak of progress and improvement, but there seems to be little democracy in AA. But if you look objectively at the AA Big Book it definitely labels all alcoholics narcissistic. To believe this, if you are not a narcissist, is another problem. One goes from having a good sense of healthy self-esteem to possibly lower or almost no self-esteem. They’re afraid every thought about themselves is selfish and egotistical. Yet, they’re following the AA advice. They are doing everything AA teaches, and they feel worse.

    I speculate, that the narcissistic AA member does not truly work the AA program, they just speak and talk of it. Talk the talk not walk the walk. If they were honest they’d recognize others need to raise their self-esteem, not lower theirs. But they seem to feel gratification watching others deplete their self-esteem and become more complacent, and able to take direction, because then they can control the other members. I find it a really weird environment based on literature that favors a narcissist and those inclined to be religiously devoted. Sorry for the long response, you just got me thinking! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Let me add— it is somewhat necessary to know when another is narcissistic and projecting their issues onto you. Not just narcissists do that, it can just be someone having a bad day, week, year, whatever have you. It can be a sociopath, a bipolar person, or just any amount of reasons someone projects. The point is— recognize when it’s projection and when it’s meant to hurt you, not help you. An accuser calling someone a narcissist? It’s a pretty strong accusation. Most of us, I know I speak for me, will wait until we’ve tried every rational approach with someone before deciding there is no way to communicate with them. That they’re hurting us. We’d rather believe their criticisms of us are based on truth and we work towards improving ourselves if we see where they are right. A narcissist doesn’t like having their faults pointed out. And they will not work on them. In the end, I can only work on myself. I stay away from getting sucked into drama whenever possible. It’s hard, as someone who still fantasizes that one day I can fix a narcissist, I tend to fall back into old ways too often. I argue when it’s useless to. I don’t want to keep doing that anymore.

  4. In your article you use the term narcissist and that is considered a “personality disorder” and all these labels and characteristics make no sense really because they don’t put the term into any context. How does one become a narcissist? Are they like an animal, like a pronghorn sheep with a consciousness totally foreign to homo sapien?

    1. Hi Otterblogger,

      Narcissistic Personality Disorder is one of many personality disorders (like Borderline) and some can overlap or one is stronger than another (dominant). I found this article helpful on when this disorder appears. Typically these persons do not see themselves having the problem so they don’t seek help.

      “A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates from the norm of the individual’s culture. The pattern is seen in two or more of the following areas: cognition; affect; interpersonal functioning; or impulse control. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations. It typically leads to significant distress or impairment in social, work or other areas of functioning. The pattern is stable and of long duration, and its onset can be traced back to early adulthood or adolescence.”

      I re-blogged the article you are referencing here, and no, I wouldn’t call an NPD sufferer a “pronghorn sheep,” but if we are using metaphors… a sheep in wolf’s clothing is spot-on. This article was listing masks a narcissist wears, the context is there, really. And people can “learn” narcissist habits without being an NPD.

  5. Thanks for your response, Julietroxspin. I reread the article and the link too. It is helpful information, to be sure, in fact, several times this week I suddenly remembered something I had read in this article, that explained the strange actions of people I encountered.

    I did some research on Borderline personality, thinking a loved one had that. It was helpful at first to find validation on my perceptions and experiences with this person. More women than men are diagnosed with this. It got me to wondering, when does someone become diagnosed with this, or when are they just the obvious scapegoats of society? Maybe she has had more than her share of blame, abandonment and disrespect. Shouldn’t these moments in her life be explored and analyzed, more so than be given this label that may keep her energies even more repressed and frozen? When did she graduate from being the typical woman enduring disrespect and general sexism, to a Borderline? Can it ever be just more scapegoating? Sometimes I think these labels give the therapist license to not listen to the “personality disordered”, and get to the heart of their distress. The labels can contribute to an us vs them mentality.

    I, like you, am fascinated by psychology.

  6. I’ve wondered the same thing in regards to the diagnosis of Borderline and gender; some studies suggest this is like the flu or any other condition where men are simply MORE likely to put off getting a diagnosis or treatment. Women are culturally and socially conditioned to regularly get check ups (Pap smears, breast exams…) Even childbirth is a medical condition… Some women may well be giving their doctor’s symptoms that are praised in men— bossiness, wanting control, being short tempered. A true psychosis is when a patient is unable to recognize their narcissist traits, their abusive traits, and how that effects those around them. When it becomes pathological then it’s a personality disorder. For instance, manipulation of others is wrong but if it is something someone does in all their relationships it is pathological. Having a short temper is a trait, but having a short temper so constantly it is disruptive it is pathological. People are hurt sometimes in their lives… but if every relationship they’ve ever had has hurt them (usually this is fictional, of course) then the person has a pathological condition in how they perceive and interact with others in the world— That’s a personality disorder. The sad truth is, personality disorders are rarely accepted by the patient because they aren’t the ones who recognize the disorder.

  7. In the links you provide, they state that more men are diagnosed with Narcissism, than women.

    I appreciate you going into this further, illustrating how the labels do help, and of course I agree, things have to be named so that we can begin to identify what is in our conscious and subconscious minds, etc.

    IN the book “Stop Walking on Eggshells, When Someone you Love is a Borderline” (something like that), recovering borderlines talk about what it’s like to be borderline. What they think, why they lash out, etc. It is an enlightening book. Also there are therapies that work. It’s true that the personality disordered don’t run for treatment, but if the people around them do not go through contortions of accommodation around the borderline, and hold them to standards of a human being, they will get treatment or recover on their own, through the knowledge that is out there that helps them.

  8. Look I do not think labels help the individual, often times— in past tense— it helps a victim not the person with the condition— to quantify their experience. And the bonus, nice, compassionate factor is the sufferer of the abuse never needs to confront the disordered person…. Yes men suffer too. I have 2 kids— a boy and a girl… I do not stereotype their emotions. I think I read the book you mentioned. The point of identifying a personality disorder is that those around them are NOT enablers as Al Anon would say…. If you allow someone you love to manipulate and abuse others that is abuse. Drinking in itself, drugging in itself, is not the issue— it is the “abuse” and if anyone harms anyone I will cry foul! I think, if presented with an ultimatum, a borderline/narcissist may attempt help. Narcissists are the worst, though. Borderlines are more self-aware almost to a fault… Like you said no “contortions of accommodation.” Or you have to detach for you. Cut them off to spare yourself. It’s the worst decision and it sucks… but sometimes that is selfish and it is the only way.

  9. I don’t know if narcissists are worst, because I don’t know any. But I don’t see how they could be worse, because borderlines are pretty bad. They are always angry. Since they are usually women, the fear of violence is not so great, in their “victims”. Unless you’ve experienced a borderline first hand, I don’t know if I can accept that narcissists are worse.

    1. You’d know a narcissistic personality if you had one in your life. (And borderlines like that article I linked in my previous comment does effect men it just seems women are getting diagnoses more but it’s not a woman’s condition only)… The emotional and mental abuse by a narcissistic personality disorder person is brutal. Others are more likely to seek help for depression or others issues in dealing with them; but they are less likely to accept they need help.

      “The DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder are:

      A. A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, lack of empathy, as indicated by at least five of:

      1. a grandiose sense of self-importance
      2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
      3. believes that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
      4. requires excessive admiration
      5. has a sense of entitlement, ie unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
      6. is interpersonally exploitative, ie takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
      7. lacks empathy and is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
      8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
      9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes”

  10. Ultimatums, or power-over a person. don’t work, in my experience. They make matters worse.

    If a man married to a borderline woman told her: “I am going to take the kids and myself to live somewhere else, if you do not stop yelling at them.” Then after the move, he could say, “I will get full custody of the kids, if you do not see Therapist X, or begin to work on your issues. It is important to me that the kids are not harmed.” As the kids start to feel secure and happy without the borderline around, the BL may begin to realize that she needs to make some changes.

    Detachment in Alanon means too often, to deal passive-aggressively with the PD. To not tell them your truth in a reasonable manner without blame and anger,creates more bad feelings and psycho-drama; further obscuring the truth.

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