Q: I have been reading quite a lot recently about NPD, in the course of trying to deal with years of trouble with my father. Can’t say if he is NPD or not, I’m not qualified, but his behaviour certainly ticks all the boxes. I think in his case it’s exacerbated by poor management of diabetes and other such things. Anyway, a question has been going round in my head about Narcissists. We often talk about the manipulation, the emotional blackmail and the cruel way they set people up as scapegoats. I’ve seen some discussions about how or what they feel. What I haven’t seen and makes me curious is how aware they are of their own behaviors? We know they will deny everything, refuse to take any responsibility and tell bare-faced incredible lies when confronted with stuff they’ve done, but do they realise they are doing that? I do feel (though I cannot know) that for my father reality really is what he says it to be that moment, although catching him in one of these fantasy-lies is a guaranteed trigger for a violent rage. What confuses me slightly as that some of these things that he does require quite a significant amount of planning and subterfuge … making up a plausible story, spreading the rumours, even planting evidence over a period of months and then a carefully orchestrated courtroom style confrontation in which I’m the only one who didn’t get a script. Even if it’s just a raging tantrum he’s managed to concoct out of nothing in a few minutes, it still seems quite a sophisticated event to put together.
All this from someone who (contrary to his belief) is not really very clever or intuitive in other aspects of life. My reading of blogs and comments leads me to believe there is nothing unique in my experience. So what are they doing? Deluding themselves and following instincts? Is it all quite simple and just seems like the creation of an evil mastermind to those of us targeted? or are they consciously assembling all of these building blocks of manipulation with full self-awareness? I never worked it out confronting him, you’ll get the threats and plate throwing long before you reach the truth. For my own sanity I’ve gone No Contact, so I’m asking you 🙂
A: Congratulations for going NO CONTACT with a toxic father, whether or not he is NPD. Who says that narcissists aren’t clever or intuitive (in some areas- such as finding people’s weak spots)? Most of them are not self-aware, their denial system is too strong. As far as NPD individuals go, they are so manipulative that they can reason their way through all kinds of outrageous behavior (including planting evidence) without it ever seeming like an untruth to them. You are right on when you suspect that what they say (not what is real) is their reality and can change moment to moment. Their egos are very fragile and they have such a strong defense system, getting through to them to uncover the truth would be like trying to break through a thick cement fortress. If you get close to winning an argument or catching them in a lie, they will become aggressive rather than “lose”. Most of them believe the old adage that the best defense is a good offense. Although the above holds true for most narcissists, there are exceptions to this. Some truly are just “evil” and unscrupulously plan out what they are going to do with full awareness and there are others who are somewhat aware and will even apologize when caught in a lie and promise not to do it again (but they always do).