Understanding Narcissism:

The Disorder Unveiled

· Main,Narcissists

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article, I want to start by emphatically saying, "Narcissism is a Disorder!!" Get that ingrained into your head as you go forward! It is imperative to understand that the Narcissist is a disordered human who will NEVER act, react, operate, argue, think or live normally. Repeat: NEVER! It's important to note that sometimes they can pretend to be normal, but they aren't. And they won't every change or get better. Whew! Glad we started with that.

What is NPD?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a complex and often misunderstood mental health condition that affects not only the individuals diagnosed with it but also those around them. Unveiling the disorder helps in recognizing the signs, understanding the underlying causes, and learning effective strategies to manage interactions with narcissistic individuals.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. People with NPD often exhibit behaviors that seem self-centered, manipulative, and exploitative. These behaviors are not just occasional but form a consistent pattern across different situations and relationships.

Read the above paragraph out loud so that it will stick. These aren't occasional behaviors, but a consistent pattern for the narc.

Key Characteristics of NPD:

  • Grandiosity: An exaggerated sense of self-importance and superiority.
  • Need for Admiration: A constant need for praise and recognition from others.
  • Lack of Empathy: Difficulty recognizing or caring about the feelings and needs of others.
  • Manipulative Behavior: Using others to achieve personal goals.
  • Entitlement: Believing they deserve special treatment and expecting others to comply with their demands.
  • Arrogance: Displaying haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Any one of the above characteristics is a negative personality trait, but put them all together and you have the true narc who is so difficult to have to deal with. The Narcissist is the most challenging to contend with as many don't see them as a problem.

The very most difficult part is that narcs don't ever get better or change. Often in post divorce situations, they get worse to deal with. This means that all of the negative character traits mentioned above amplify after their supply leaves. That amplification is what many of our members were dealing with prior to turning over their communications to us.

Behavioral Patterns of Narcissists

Here are the top behavioral patters that many narcissists exhibit. Narcissism is a spectrum disorder meaning that there can be degrees or levels to the disorder. In general, however, narcissists tend to act very similarly and the below list gives a great overview of typical behaviors.

Gas lighting:

  • Definition: A form of psychological manipulation where the narcissist makes their victim doubt their own perceptions, memories, or sanity.
  • Example: Denying past events or insisting that the victim is overreacting or imagining things. Another example might be an exaggeration of events that did occur. Something like, "you always say how you're in love with your ex husband!"


  • Definition: Tactics used by the narcissist to "suck" (Hoover Vacuum) their victim back into the relationship or dynamic.
  • Example: Making promises to change, showing sudden affection, or creating a crisis that requires the victim’s attention. "I've changed." "I'm a different woman than I was when I was having the affair."


  • Definition: An attempt to influence a person by lavish demonstrations of attention and affection. The narcissist can also Hoover/love-bomb you again during the relationship. This happens when they get caught doing something really bad. They will Hoover and love-bomb their way back into good graces with you only to re-traumatize you later.
  • Example: Showering someone with compliments, gifts, and declarations of love early in the relationship.

Devaluation and Discard:

  • Definition: After initially idealizing someone, the narcissist eventually devalues them and may discard them when they no longer serve their needs.
  • Example: Sudden criticism, withdrawal of affection, or abandonment without explanation. "Did you see how good Cindy looked in that dress. She must be working out! You should ask her about her workout routine."

Playing the Victim Card:

  • Definition: Narcissists often portray themselves as the victim in situations to manipulate others and gain sympathy or control. This tactic is used to deflect blame, avoid responsibility, and elicit pity from others.
  • Example: A narcissist might claim that they are being unfairly treated or misunderstood, even when they are the ones causing conflict. They might say, "I can’t believe how badly you treat me after all I’ve done for you," in an attempt to guilt-trip their supply and shift focus away from their own harmful behavior.

The "victim card" manipulation tactic is insidious indeed. It is very hard for moral people to kick someone when they're down. Most people are sympathetic with victims. Narcissists learn very quickly that being a "victim" means getting a lot of what they hope to achieve. Narcissists who often play the victim card are, in my opinion, the worst to deal with.

Impact on Relationships

Narcissistic behavior can have a profound impact on relationships, particularly in co-parenting situations. The narcissist’s need for control and admiration often leads to conflict, manipulation, and emotional distress for the other party.

Emotional Abuse:

  • Constant Criticism: Undermining the victim’s confidence and self-worth.
  • Isolation: Cutting off the victim from friends and family to increase dependence on the narcissist. Remember dependent people are easier to traumatize....and narcs love to traumatize others!

Financial Control:

  • Manipulating Resources: Controlling finances to limit the victim’s independence.
  • Creating Dependence: Ensuring the victim relies on the narcissist for financial stability. Narcs will often control the finances leaving their partner in the dark when it comes to money.

Parental Alienation:

  • Turning Children Against the Other Parent: Using children as pawns in the conflict.
  • Undermining Parental Authority: Disrespecting or contradicting the other parent’s decisions.

Strategies for Managing Interactions

Dealing with a narcissist requires specific strategies to protect your well-being and maintain control over your interactions.

Setting Boundaries: (see post)

  • Firm Limits: Clearly define what behavior is unacceptable and enforce consequences.
  • Consistency: Maintain boundaries consistently to prevent the narcissist from exploiting any leniency.

The Grey Rock Method: (see post)

  • Uninteresting Responses: Make your interactions as dull and non-reactive as possible to reduce the narcissist’s interest in engaging with you.


  • Keep Records: Maintain detailed records of all interactions, especially in co-parenting situations. This can be useful in legal contexts and helps protect your interests.

Seek Support:

  • Professional Help: Consider therapy or counseling to manage the emotional impact of dealing with a narcissist. Consider having Grey Rock Communications take over your communications for you. Or perhaps take the Grey Rock U course on handling communications yourself.
  • Support Networks: Lean on friends, family, or support groups who understand your situation and can provide advice and encouragement.

Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the first step in managing interactions with narcissists effectively. By recognizing the signs and behavioral patterns, you can develop strategies to protect your well-being and maintain healthier relationships. Whether you are dealing with a narcissistic ex-spouse, co-parent, or family member, knowledge and preparation are key to navigating these challenging dynamics.