Why Do the Narcissists Play Victim?

Will you believe if I tell you that you’ve never interacted with a narcissist before in your entire life? Your response is likely to be a mix of shock and confusion. 

But yes, it’s true. Then who’s the one to inflict abuse in the form of gaslighting, triangulation, and smear campaign? Who’s the one to play the victim, and why?

It’s hard to believe, but the reality is that narcissists don’t have a stable concept of the self. It’s continually in a state of flux. It changes from moment to moment.

Narcissists experience the world around them through the distorted lens of their personality disorder. The way narcissists perceive themselves is through their reflection in other people. But they’re cautious enough to block the parts that don’t conform to their grandiose image.

So what they see in others is a distorted reflection of themselves. And that’s why people’s perception matters more to them than their own thoughts and feelings. They lack authenticity, and whatever they do is geared towards attention (positive or negative).

In social groups, they always try to be the center of the conversation. They distort or deflect the topic to fit themselves in the conversation. They’re more eager to speak than to listen and learn.

When the narcissist plays a victim, they genuinely feel like one, but it’s an unconscious strategy to get sympathy and support. It’s a coping mechanism they learned as children. 

When the child feels hurt, they cry and seek attention from caregivers. It’s normal for children to behave in that way.

However, with narcissists, playing the victim is a toxic behavior they use to further their ambitions, break relationships, or punish the real victims – the targets of their abuse.

Narcissists Like To Create Drama and Gain Sympathy

Narcissists never learn to take accountability for their actions. Therefore, they have a compulsive need to blame others. Playing the victim is a carefully crafted strategy to gather sympathetic attention. That way, they avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

For example, once at my workplace, a female colleague of mine alleged a charge of sexual misconduct on her boss (a male) after there was an argument between them.

She never completed her tasks and would often waste time on unimportant activities. She got most of her work done by continually asking for favors. She often played the victim card, complaining about everything that’s going wrong in her life.

Not suspecting her motives, most of us helped her at times, but this became bothersome after a while. Our boss took note of her behavior and confronted her.

Since this argument took place in the presence of the entire team (including me), we knew that nothing inappropriate happened. 

But this women’s ego was so bruised that she didn’t hesitate to make such a serious allegation against a man who was known to be very balanced and well-behaved. He was always nice and extra-accomodating to her.

The way this woman was demonizing this man in front of the HR department showed her psychopathy. Narcissists have no empathy towards others. Their conscience is dead. Malignant narcissists don’t hesitate even for a split second before jeopardizing lives.

Narcissists play the victim in the first instance because they know that the first account makes the most impact. Think about it. We tend to sympathize with the person who approaches us first.

In many cases, we get so influenced by the dramatic scene created by the narcissist that we don’t even think about giving the real victim a chance. We sympathize with the narcissist because of the emotional intensity exhibited by them.

The narcissistic drama has so much impact on our behavior that despite knowing that the narcissist was at fault, we discount the abuse with the following phrases:

  • “Let it go! He/She was in a bad mood”
  • “He/She didn’t mean it! He’s/She’s Having a hard time at home”
  • “She’s/He’s hard on the outside, but once you get to know the person inside, you’ll realize what a gem of a person (my ass) he/she is”

Narcissists are bad actors but good manipulators. People who are emotionally sensitive buy into their fake stories. A narcissist’s narrative is always fixated on shaming and blaming others and creating sympathy for themselves.

Narcissists Can’t Take Responsibility For Their Bad Behavior

Narcissists are thin-skinned people. They take personal offense at the slightest of criticism. And this is one reason why it’s difficult to argue with a narcissist because for them, criticizing their actions is like attacking them.

When you criticize or call out on their bad behavior, they respond with rage, stonewalling, personal attack, blaming, or playing the victim. According to them, playing a victim is an easy way to divert attention from the wrong behavior.

For example, when a narcissist cheats on you, they come up with illogical justifications for their behavior:

  • “I know what I did was wrong, but it was all because you never fulfilled my needs”.
  • “I would never cheat if you dressed up better or looked better”.
  • “I did it because the world is unkind to me. I’m not understood and appreciated for the things I do for others”.

These kinds of rationalizations help’s them divert the focus from their bad behavior. They are good at distorting reality by gaslighting. They put you in such a spot that you start questioning your own reality.

They’ll put all the blame on you and make you explain yourself, give justifications, rather than taking responsibility for their actions. No matter how much you try, you cannot change their thinking. It’s like banging your head against the wall.

It’s futile to think that you can ever please these people. By arguing with them, all you’re doing is hurting yourself more. It’s a no-brainer. Who gets hurt when you bang your head against a wall?

If you analyze, you’ll notice that their stories are repeated and fabricated with lies. It follows a steady pattern. They complain about how the very people they trusted wronged them.

How every time they were abused by their exes. The sacrifices they made to keep the relationship alive. And they go on with the drama making sure that the highlight remains on them.

Final Thoughts

Narcissists live in an alternate reality, which is an idealized version of the world. This reality is created and enforced by the false image of themselves that they create within them. They fiercely guard this false image because it protects their real self, which is broken and wounded.

They cannot bear to reveal their true self because that is a sign of weakness for them. It’s all about perception. A narcissist is incapable of knowing the real self. What the narcissists see is a reflection of their perceived self in others.

When challenged or shown the mirror – the narcissist feels off balance. They project unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to soothe themselves. However, their pain never goes away. The harmful coping mechanisms they learn during childhood become toxic as they grow into adults.

When dealing with narcissists, knowledge is the key. The narcissists play the victim to gain attention in the form of sympathy. Unfortunately, many people fall for their false stories because of the strong emotions that accompany them. But in the end, it’s all fake.

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