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How do you drive a narcissistic person crazy?

Narcissists use a subtle conversation tactic to make everything about them, and you may not notice it until its driving you crazy

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  • Conversational narcissism is the tendency to steer conversations back to yourself.
  • It is a tactic narcissists use that the victims only notice when it makes them feel like they’re going crazy, although people who aren’t narcissistic can be guilty of it too.
  • Rather than supporting the other person in what they say, they manipulate the conversation by shifting every point to be about them.
  • «Because these conversations are never truly about you, the narcissist reinforces the belief that you are supposed to give, give, give to get an inch of their attention,» said coach Cherlyn Chong. «Your role is to support, soothe, or even stroke their ego.»
  • This makes the victim feel like they have no voice, and it can be exhausting, frustrating, and confusing.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

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Narcissists hate it when the focus is on other people. Occasional they emphasize and gloat about the achievements of the people they know, because they like to bask in the glory of being connected to them.

But they can only stand it for so long, and they usually prefer to dominate conversations with their own thoughts and opinions.

«Conversational narcissism» is a term coined by the sociologist Charles Derber, author of «The Pursuit of Attention: Power and Ego in Everyday Life.» It described a tactic narcissists use that their victims only notice when it makes them feel like they’re going crazy. But people who aren’t narcissistic can be guilty of doing it too — just without the bad intentions.

Cherlyn Chong, a coach who helps professional women recover from toxic exes, told INSIDER conversational narcissism is the tendency to steer conversations back to yourself.

«The person then takes over most of the talking and makes it about them,» she said. «For many people, this shift happens subtly and unconsciously, and most doing the shifting are unaware it is even occurring.»

If you use the «support response» when talking to someone, the focus is kept on them. But conversational narcissism means people use the «shift response» as they try and claim that limelight for themselves.

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For example, if someone says they have a headache, a support response would be «I feel you. Is it a headache? I have something for that,» while a shift response is «Me too, I barely got any sleep last night because of the kids.»

Narcissists can take the shift response to the next level, said Chong. One, they «pepper the conversation with disinterested support responses,» to give the illusion they are listening. And two, they shift 90% of the conversation towards them and their needs.

«Because these conversations are never truly about you, the narcissist reinforces the belief that you are supposed to give, give, give to get an inch of their attention,» Chong said. «Your role is to support, soothe, or even stroke their ego.»

They will probably even guilt-trip you if you try and make any of the conversation about you, or expressing yourself in any way. This keeps you «malleable and docile,» Chong said, and «perfect for their manipulations.»

It’s a very subtle trick narcissists use to make their victims subservient, so it’s unlikely you will immediately notice if it’s happening to you. But if you feel cut off, denied, or frustrated talking to someone, this could be why.

«You’ll feel like you have ‘no voice’ after a while, and might even feel doubtful about expressing yourself in other conversations,» said Chong. «When you leave the conversation, you might feel a sense of something being unresolved or feel queasy in the stomach.»

Don’t be surprised if there is a little anger too, she added. «After all, you’ve just been invalidated.»

Chong said the first step to getting your power back is realizing you have reason to be feeling the way you do — you’re not being irrational. Secondly, you can then try and catch the attention when you feel it being taken from you.

A non-narcissistic person is more likely to understand they’re steamrolling the conversation and back off a bit. A narcissist, however, won’t be so willing to let the spotlight go.

«This will irritate the narcissist, but will lessen their control,» Chong said. «Be level-headed and calm, and withdraw any form of support for them. If there is no energetic exchange, the narcissist cannot win.»

In short, narcissists are bad listeners, and not allowing them to steal all the limelight will be uncomfortable for them. If they’re being unbearably difficult, you can say you need a break and walk away.

«Doing so might result in the narcissist feeling confused, and they will leave you alone,» said Chong.

What Makes A Narcissist Panic? – 15 Proven Strategies (2023)

Are you in the middle of a personal war with a narcissist? Would you like to know what makes a narcissist panic, so you can regain control of this relationship?

It’s often argued that the best way to deal with a narcissist is to not associate with them. Sadly, this isn’t always possible. Maybe you’re currently dealing with a narcissistic co-worker or family member.

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That’s why I created this list of strategies to make a narcissist panic.

In my role as a life coach, I am often helping clients handle toxic relationships in their life. Indeed, the manipulation tactics that narcissists use can be enough to drive most people crazy.

That’s why I’m excited to share this guide with you.

Read on for my list of strategies to send a narcissist into panic mode and regain control of the relationship.

Let’s dive right into it.

Contents hide

Narcissist Panic

What Are The Weaknesses Of A Narcissist?

When you understand what narcissism is, these strategies for regaining power over them will make more sense.

It has become trendy to label anyone who engages in boasting, pride or self-promotion as a narcissist.

However, the truth is: narcissists suffer from the complete opposite problem. They suffer from such extreme levels of low self-esteem that they feel the need to aggressively over-compensate.

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This is why they need to always be right, always be the center of attention, always be lavished with praise. It’s a defence mechanism.

A narcissist trains themselves to become so confident in their self-importance that it can be difficult for other people to challenge them.

However, when you learn to challenge their view of the world in the right way, this is what makes them panic.

What Drives A Narcissist Insane?

Weaknesses Of A Narcissist

Whenever something happens to challenge the narcissist’s view that they are the most special person in the world, it can create a ‘narcissistic injury’ and spark a narcissistic rage.

Here are some examples of situations that a narcissist hates. These will all make a narcissist panic too.

  1. They don’t get their own way.
  2. Their narcissist rage doesn’t have the desired effect on people.
  3. They are ignored, or made to feel unworthy of attention.
  4. They are criticized, even in a reasonable or constructive manner.
  5. Another person is treated as the centre of attention among their friends or family.
  6. They are called out for breaking rules.
  7. They are called out for their own lies.
  8. They are not granted special treatment to break rules.
  9. They are accused of narcissistic behavior.
  10. They are made to feel judged about decisions they make in their own lives.
  11. They feel they are losing control of the situation and/or the people around them.
  12. Someone tries to blame them for anything that goes wrong.
  13. Anything that causes them public humiliation.
  14. Another person receives more admiration than them.
  15. Anything else that makes them question their own self-worth.

After reading this list, you may begin to sense just how easy it is to cause a narcissistic injury. This should give you a sense of how low a narcissist’s self-esteem can be – and how much narcissists fear their insecurities being revealed to the world.

Narcissists often need total control of their surroundings in order to maintain this act of feeling like the greatest person.

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How To Turn The Tables On A Narcissist

When someone you know is engaging in infuriating narcissistic traits, such as:

  • refusing to accept blame;
  • stealing attention from others;
  • telling stories of how great they are;
  • failing to show empathy;

you can choose to ignore them or remove them for your life. That’s probably the best solution for your mental health.

However, if you want to turn the tables on a narcissist, it’s an effective strategy to call out what they’re doing and why.

When you out them for certain things they’re doing – coupled with facts about narcissistic personality traits – they will often feel backed into a corner.

Narcissists all follow the same patterns — here are some of the most common phrases they use

I t’s possible to meet someone and feel like you’ve known them your whole life. Often, this just means you’re comfortable in each other’s company.

Sometimes, though, it can be a sign of something more sinister — particularly if someone you’re dating is professing their undying love for you when you’ve only known them five minutes.

Narcissists sometimes engage in love bombing, where they pretend to be everything you ever wanted, only to turn it back on you further down the line. It’s a manipulative tactic to reel in their targets, showering them with affection and gifts. Then, they start gaslighting and abusing their victim, causing them to wonder what’s real. It’s all part of the plan to gain total control.

Although there’s no global summit for all dark triad people to get together and discuss their tactics, they do seem to operate in a similar way.

“It’s like they read from the same manual, even though nobody gives them that manual,” said psychologist Perpetua Neo, who works with victims of narcissistic abuse. “They’re almost programmed in the same way.”

There are certain phrases narcissists use, and ways they express things, that are eerily familiar to anyone who has ever dealt with one.

Here are some of the most common things they might say, and what stages of the relationship to expect them in.

1. The idealisation stage

Relationships with narcissists move very quickly. Neo said some people simply do mesh really well, because they have similar interests, and also complement each other’s differences.

“But anybody who tries to do it too quickly early on is basically accelerating intimacy, and that is bad news,” she said. “Anybody who has to do that suggests they are doing something a bit creepy.”

In the first few weeks narcissists will say things like:

  • “You’re my soulmate.”
  • “I’ve never met anyone like you before.”
  • “You understand me so much better than anyone else.”
  • “It’s fate that we met.”
  • “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before.”
  • “Am I your only friend? You’re my only friend.”
  • “We don’t need anyone else.”
  • “You’re so kind, creative, smart, beautiful, and perfect.”
  • “We’ll be together forever.”
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2. The devaluation stage

Once a narcissist has hooked their victim, they start showing their true self. This is where the insults and put downs start slipping into what they say. Things they once seemed to love about their partner are suddenly criticised, and everything they say is part of their scheme to shatter their partner’s confidence.

But all the nastiness is intertwined with some affection, because the narcissist knows they have to keep up the illusion that the relationship is worth saving. By pretending they can still be loving, the narcissist makes their victim believe the insults are their own fault.

During this phrase narcissists may utter some of these things:

  • “You’re crazy.”
  • “You’re too sensitive.”
  • “No wonder nobody else likes you.”
  • “My friends hate you, but I always defend you and have your back.”
  • “You’re so insecure.”
  • “What’s wrong with you?”
  • “Aren’t I more important to you than your friends?”
  • “Your tears won’t work on me. Why are you crying?”
  • “You’re being so manipulative.”

They will also probably start explaining away their behaviour if they are ever challenged on it, saying things like:

  • “I’m like this because my parents were so mean to me.”
  • “My ex cheated on me.”
  • “Love is just hard, we have to work on it.”
  • “Everyone abandons me, so you have to help me.”
  • “I’m acting this way because I’m scared to lose you.”
  • “I don’t do it on purpose, I have a problem.”
  • “Don’t you remember how good things were at the start?”
  • “You need to stop being so selfish / careless / busy with other people.”
  • “You can’t blame me, you know I have a problem.”

They’ll also try and devalue everything their victim loves, like their interest and hobbies — even their family. They’ll insult everything they can, such as:

  • “I don’t like your friends, they’re not good enough for you.”
  • “You like that? It’s terrible.”
  • “I can’t believe you enjoy doing this.”
  • “Your family doesn’t like me. You probably shouldn’t see them as much.”
  • “If you leave and see your friends I’ll be angry.”

Narcissists also play on their advantages, especially if they are older than their victim, or they brought them over from a foreign country. Whatever they can play on for superiority they will leverage and use to subvert the other party.

They’ll assert their authority by saying:

  • “I’ve been through more relationships so this is why I’m saying this.”
  • “You can’t wear that, because I said so.”
  • “That makes you look stupid.”
  • “Your dress is too short.”
  • “You know I’m smarter, you know I know more about this than you.”
  • “I’m the local here, I know better.”

If the victim dares tell anyone about how they are being treated, the narcissist makes sure they are punished by making their life even more miserable. They say things like:

  • “Since somebody has found out, I’m going to get worse.”
  • “Because you broke my trust, you have to earn my trust back.”
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3. The discard phase

When a narcissist has completely worn their victim down, they may tire of them. It might be because they’ve bled them dry of funds, or they’ve simply found someone new to abuse. Either way, at this stage their insults will reach the worst level, and they’ll find more ways to tear their partner down, ensuring they leave the relationship as the “winner.”

They’ll hurl poison at their victim like:

  • “Everybody hates you.”
  • “You’re a bad person.”
  • “Nobody else will ever love you.”
  • “I’m the best you’ll ever have.”
  • “Have fun being alone for the rest of your life.”
  • “You did this to yourself.”

It will only get worse

The only way to escape a narcissist’s insults and threats is to get away from them, and run fast and far, said Neo. They constantly keep their victims in a constant state of stress, and they know exactly where to dig the knife in deeper.

«So you are just kept on your toes, and bending further backwards like a dancing monkey,» Neo said. «And nothing will ever change — things will just get worse.»

If you’d like to find yourself back again and get your narcissist/psychopath out of your system for good, here’s my signature 8-week program Detox Your Heart. Or book your free Chemistry Call here.



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