Narcissists and Sycophants: A Marriage Made in Hell

July 29, 2009

Whether we realize it or not, we all have at least one narcissist in our lives. In fact, according to authors Jean Twenge, PhD and Keith Campbell, PhD, there is a narcissism epidemic in this country.  (The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, Free Press, 2009, Twenge PhD., Campbell, PhD.).

After reading this eye opening book I found myself thinking about this subject in general and agree with the authors that narcissism is sweeping our country and wreaking havoc on the personal, social and professional relationships of the masses. Most of us, however, live in denial. We don’t want to view someone we look up to as a narcissist and we certainly don’t want to acknowledge the hold narcissists have on us and on the world at large. We also live in denial about the part we play in the creation of the narcissist and the perpetuation of his or her behavior. Far too often the people drawn into the narcissist’s force field enable, condone and tolerate the negative and destructive behavior of the narcissist. We absolve ourselves by saying we are doing it for the greater good, or by apologizing for the narcissist’s behavior. Often we take responsibility for the damage caused to other’s psyches by the narcissist. If truth be known, we do it because we are afraid. We don’t want to wound the highly sensitive narcissist because we will pay dearly for this narcissistic injury. We don’t want to be tossed out of the narcissist’s orbit for speaking up, for disagreeing or challenging the narcissist because what we get from the narcissist fuels our own needs.

I have a theory about why this is. From my life experience, I have come to believe that sycophants fuel narcissists and enable them to exist and even thrive. I am sure this isn’t a new or novel idea on my part. In fact, it is probably overly simplistic.

Let’s begin with some descriptions. A narcissist is a person with inordinate fascination with himself or herself. They have few social control mechanisms, fewer friends, little or no psychic demands to do the right thing (even though they give lip service to this concept) do not look for approval from others, lack social barometers of how to conduct themselves, and are driven to be captivating, inspirational, charming and seductive. They have a desperate need to get others to buy into their worldview–their vision, to create a world that they populate with their devoted followers. They are grandiose, don’t listen to others, are prone to angry outbursts (often used to control others who disagree with them), bully subordinates, dominate meetings and are often isolated and paranoid. According to Twenge and Campbell, narcissism is “a disease that causes others to suffer.” Narcissism is nearly always corrosive to social relationships as it breeds distrust. Narcissists are prone to using people like they use books, information and knowledge—they pump them for information and then when they are through, throw them aside. To the narcissist, there are only friends or foes; you are either for or against their vision. There is no middle ground.

Sycophants are self-serving servile flatterers and are often slavishly submissive to the narcissist.  The narcissist and the sycophant need each other. The narcissist is completely dependent on the sycophant to feed his ego, to feel important and powerful.  The sycophant, on the other hand, is also dependent on the narcissist for the narcissist makes the sycophant feel included and connected to someone the sycophant believes is powerful and important and will elevate the sycophant to great success, recognition or social standing. The sycophant derives a lot of self worth from the narcissist as the relationship with the narcissist gives the sycophant social standing he otherwise would not have. In short, the relationship between the narcissist and sycophant is symbiotic; each feeding and dependent on the other. Without sycophants, the narcissist struggles, becomes depressed and feels his or her life has no meaning. A narcissist must have blind allegiance and the adoration of sycophantic followers because that is the food of the narcissist. Most often, a narcissist surrounds him or herself with “yes men” (slavishly submissive flatterers) who the narcissist sees as no threat to him or herself but yet, who are also not much good for advancing the narcissist’s vision. But that is ok with the narcissist, because he or she has all the answers, knows what is best and right and doesn’t listen to others anyway. The “yes men” are the means to an end, they help the narcissist get what he or she wants and will only be kept close as long as they serve a purpose.

As a group, sycophants find meaning and purpose out of protecting and becoming the narcissist’s handlers. They bond with other sycophants in this common purpose and are simultaneously validated by each other for how dysfunctional this interpersonal interplay is, either on a conscious or unconscious level, depending on the dysfunction of each individual. In such groups, everyone suffers. There are no winners in this symbiotic relationship. The narcissist’s hold is so great it is hard for the sycophant to escape the narcissist’s seductive embrace. At some point, depending on the amount of pain the sycophant has had to endure, they will wake up when they are no longer able to tolerate being used or when their own ethics or integrity will no longer permit them to be passive participants in the destructive world of the narcissist. Faced with abandonment, the narcissist acts more and more out of desperation, devolves deeper into his or her pathology and ends up alone and even more isolated, completing the cycle of narcissistic self-destruction.

In the end, narcissists die alone and sycophants suffer stunted emotional and psychological growth, unless they grow strong enough to break their addiction and choose to value their own self-worth instead of abandoning it for the advancement of the narcissist.

I highly recommend anyone interested in the burgeoning narcissism epidemic read Twenge and Campbell’s excellent book. It is both eye opening and thought provoking.

Another good book on narcissists is Michael Maccoby’s Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails (Broadway Books, 2003).


  1. J: I spent several years in a social system which revolved around two narcissists married to each other. I finally walked away, after seeing the masks fall away and the tantrum-throwing toddlers that were just below the surface appearance. It may be the healthiest thing I have ever done. I have friends who have not done it yet and am sad for them.

    I am now grateful because I learned an enormous amount from these people about what sort of person (and what sort of lawyer) I do not want to be. I’ll get the book. Thank you for a very wise and thought-provoking post. Best to you always.

  2. I can’t imagine who you might be referring to. Any guesses?

  3. No, you cant use that word. The word sycophant isnt right, a narcissist is a sadist, who can create a masochist over many years, not to accept hurt, but to minimize the hurt. Sycophant implies a cowardly submission and agreement to torturous bullying, but trying to live with or placate a cruel controlling sadist bully is courageous, exhausting, futile, and before youve realized all of the above, damaging, mostly to the self. The end result is the same though, get the fuck out of there. I dont know how workplace narcissists compare, probably nothing compared to family narcissism, and upbringing,(in effect, grooming).
    Narcissists wont die alone by the way, they’ll have groomed anybody who’s listened to their pathological lies over decades, sobbed their crocodile tears, and sicked their crocodile vomit, and moan that they’ve been put through tremendous worry, they’ll be the victim, Im sure the people crowded around their hospital bed wont remember the person who’s caused them so much worry, the real victim being long gone. The narcissist will have been feasting on pain and suicide until their dying day, they do not give a fucking shit, the lack of empathy gives it away. The splitting up of family is another giveaway, if you are experiencing a “family” narcissist. Narcissist personality disorder I’m sure is low level psychopathy, just too cowardly to do the actual physical harm, but can easily recruit a willing partner. I sometimes think I’ve escaped from an NPD, but remember that they’re doing the ultra-martyrdom to anyone who’ll listen, and then stealing my mail. They are perverse and odd human beings, emotionally stuck in childhood, and calling victims sycophants,is erm, like that Jodie Foster rape film.

    • I can’t help but wonder if your reply is driven by the fact that sycophants are co-narcissistic parasites that feed on the narcissist himself.

      In other words sycophants are narcissists that fail at portraying what they wished they could, their ideal idea of themselves. They latch on to the narcissist thinking they will gain something by mere association and of course they tend to be blind to the narcissism of the other , for they are blind to their own.

    • Just a brief comment to the above very old post: Unfortunately, I’ve had the pleasure of being raised by a narcissistic mother, and then bullied out of my livelihood by several narcissistic supervisors. The comment that workplace narcissists are likely “nothing” compared to family narcissists is totally inaccurate. They are just as bad and can inflict just as much damage, albeit through a different route. The family narcissist damages the psyche of their children deeply. The workplace narcissist “takes over” once the adult child of a narcissist escapes, and then damages the career and financial stability of that person. I spent years healing from being raised by a narcissistic mother, only to have my career and financial stability obliterated by a workplace narcissist years later. I’ve lost that career in totality, lost my home to foreclosure, and gone bankrupt, all due to workplace bullying perpetrated by a succession of 4 workplace bullies, 3 of whom were narcissists, one of whom had crossed all the way over to psychopathy. (If you don’t think workplace bullies can destroy careers in totality, please visit any workplace bullying site and read the stories. Blacklisting does wonders, especially when you don’t have the financial capability to move out of a region). Workplace bullies/narcissists can “smell” that you’re a child of a narcissist, through minute behaviors that are very difficult to change (i.e., smiling to readily, for example)–then they pounce on those workers to target, assuming the past exposure to narcissism makes those workers prime “meat” for the workplace bully to toy with. It is a sad cycle that will only be broken once workplace bullying laws are in place, and workplace bureaucracies are systematically converted to more democratic systems. So we’re talking far, far in the future.

  4. Sycophant, not at all. Some of us were introduced to the narcissist at an early age before their disorder became fully pronounced. By that time we were committed and failed to see or understand the signs until they became full blown and incredibly hurtful. Some of us were accomplished in our own right and therefore, we were pursued by the narcissist because we had something he wanted, which is very flattering and can be confused for “love”. Some of us were excellent caregivers which we learned in our family of origin, providing the narcissist with all that he was lacking from his narcissistic parent. We “mothered” him well; it just wasn’t enough…it never is, and along the way, we weren’t having our wants met and stopped singing the narcissts praises. We all know where that leads…devaluing and discarding. It’s difficult to be in a relationship with a narcissist. You get glimpses of the young child, damaged through no fault of his own by a parent incapable of healthy parenting, and you wish that it had been different for them. On the other hand, the cruel and dismissive hurts hurled at you by this person cut you to the core…especially when the next day they profess to “love” you. It is sheer confusion until the day you get it. And then you know the only way you will survive is to cut them from your life as best you can and not to succumb to their manipulation any longer…sycophant is wrong and most definitely too simplistic!

  5. I learned through my marriage to a raging somatic betraying sexually addicted narcissist a couple of powerfully spiritual life lessons: 1) that nobody can abandon me without my consent and that 2)abandonment is an inside job. I was able to learn these lessons because of the 28 years of tyranny and abuse that I endured. I finally had to ask myself what it was about me that had allowed myself to stay in that kind of relationship for so many years? I finally got it and finally got out. The saving grace was the 5 children that were born from that marriage. Although a couple of them seem to have inherited the “narcissistic gene,” I am eternally grateful for their presence in my life. As to the father? Good riddance.

    • An “idealist” who is more than willing to stomp on other’s ideals. It is the lack of compassion and all-encompassing self-interest that is the elephant in the room with them. Lack of empathy = monster. It is only laws that they typically feel do not apply to them that hold them in check. I was raised by a narcissist. You will have no greater lesson on self-sufficiency and how to carry the load for two people. I am angry years later for the childhood I never had so she can continue to have hers well into retirement. Since they can never be wrong they tend to have a “scapegoat” and the other family members are relieved since they are not targeted. Guess who I was? Keep good notes. Keep records. Give them as little control as possible and hold them completely accountable for what little they have. If they have power over you they will try to suck your life dry to feed their overwhelming need. It is hard to believe and I would not have, had I not lived it. To be a whole person this phrase has had good utility for me: “Love everyone, trust no-one.” – Be nice, give respect but evaluate by demonstratable physical action not intentions or words.

  6. Hi, I would like to say something about the narcissists point of view. First off , remember it is a defense mechanism and like all defense mechanisms does not define the essence of who someone is. Secondly this defense mechanism from my own personal experience arises from the fact that I believe narcissists tend to be highly inteliigent and sensitive people and have had problems dealing with the world’s insensitivity, bullying, vanity, and general selfishness, thus alienation. The defense mechanism goes like this in a nut shell “If I cannot be part of them, I will be above them”;— that is all their really is to it deep down. The narcissist becomes an idealist pitting his view against the whole world’s view. When he falls in love with someone who is accepting of his view, he will want that person to uphold it and not be sucked into the world’s view, what he sees as pettiness, small thinking, weakness etc… And often times these people are in the in-laws, friends, most everyone actually. Deep down the narcissist is trying to help their partner stay away from “the nonesense”; “the weakness”; “the world”; from his point of view. As for the “sycophant”, it is my opinion that these people are the “victim”; mentalities in that their greatest downfall is their lack of taking responsibility for their lives, they latch onto people and ideas (i.e. rockstars, Jesus Christ, or a partner). Their self-importance is just as huge as the narcissists, its just that it expresses through victim behaviours, such as avoidant personality disorder or dependant personality disorder or paranoid PD or combinations. Both IMO are highly passionate and sensitive people, deep down, under their neuroses(defense mechanisms). A pain inflicting, butt kicking, confronting narcissist may seem “evil” to some, but IMHO a self-inflicting pain slut who can accept sheer hell in his/her life, depression, self-pitying and wallowing and a life spent dragging their sorry ass around, isn’t really less selfish or less “evil”. The narcissist wants and tries to be a winner, successfully or not, the sycophant sabotages themselves into being a poor loser. We could call it the Hero/Martyr complexes and the 2 sides of the same egomaniacal coin. It is understandable that they can feel very close and find a certain complicity in each others company. Both are very self-important in their own minds and in their own way.

    • …but both are suffering inside from some kind of alienation from their past.

      • I would even go as far to say that the narcissists alienation is more of the social kind, and the sycophant more from the alienation of close family, likely both parents(likely narcissists themselves). So the narcissist wants to be above everyone and the sycophant wants to be accept first and foremost by the narcissistic figures.

    • I agree that some people who are alienated become narcissists. However, the “sycophant”/partner/etc is probably just as sensitive and is of course living in the same system. He/she needs the same support and understanding!

      Being a doormat is *not* as evil as being a narcissist. The mentality may be the same, but the behaviour is not.

    • “Both are very self-important in their own minds…” this is the most accurate observation of narcissism to date. It is precisely “their minds” that are “disordered”. Reality calls for a society that has a sense of community, a certain level of altruism, a desire to share the good and the bad with their neighbour etc. The human being is a social creature and needs to co-exist in order to live well. The disordered “mind” (in which the narcissist lives) has a disordered set of values to this. 1) I must look after me and me alone 2) I must destroy that which makes me look bad 3) I must surround myself with that which makes me look good, and finally 4) I must punish myself for not living up to the perfect persona I have created. This “creation” of the persona is a perfect replica of the real deal (a real loving human being) and to the innocent and naive interloper, almost impossible to detect until it is too late. There are clues though and I recommend that everyone be alert to the red flags before its too late!

  7. I do not believe in evil…only fear. And also, a narcissist has no power without the sycophant mentality to feed the illusions of his self-importance. They are like air and fire.

    • Yeah, but still, it’s not nice to hurt people.

      • IMO it seems that believing narcissists can’t control themselves in public is an enabling type of attitude and can reinforce their horrid (and adolescent-like) behaviors. Do you agree?

        Why is it that we commonly see them controlling themselves perfectly whenever witnesses are present? So, being behind closed doors makes them suddenly out-of-control? Their problem isn’t lack of self control — it’s lack of conscience.

        I think a conscience is what makes people behave the same in the dark, as in the light of day.

  8. Read below, which was found on the world wide web. Perfect description of the founder/leader of a certain college in WY that will remain nameless:

    Narcissistic and psychopathic Leaders

    The narcissistic or psychopathic leader is the culmination and reification of his period, culture, and civilization. He is likely to rise to prominence in narcissistic societies.

    The malignant narcissist invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and this is further exacerbated by the trappings of power. The narcissist’s grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are supported by real life authority and the narcissist’s predilection to surround himself with obsequious sycophants.

    The narcissist’s personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference.

    The narcissistic leader fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, mythology. The leader is this religion’s ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.

    The narcissistic leader is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people – or humanity at large – should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, the narcissistic leader became a distorted version of Nietzsche’s “superman”.

    But being a-human or super-human also means being a-moral.

    In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things “natural” – or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to as “nature” is not natural at all.

    The narcissistic leader invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial – though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols – not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.

    In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

    Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism – and the cult’s leader serves as a role model, annihilating the “Man”, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

    Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the “old ways” – against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

    Minorities or “others” – often arbitrarily selected – constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is “wrong”. They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are “decadent”, they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin … They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenseless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

    The narcissistic leader prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime – the narcissistic leader having died – it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely-held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. “Earth shattering” and “revolutionary” scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

    It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of the narcissist. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform with the narcissistic narrative.

    Thus, a narcissist who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite – is highly unlikely to use violence at first.

    The pacific mask crumbles when the narcissist has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, the prime sources of his narcissistic supply – have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, the narcissist strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. “The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)”, “they don’t really know what they are doing”, “following a rude awakening, they will revert to form”, etc.

    When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail – the narcissist is injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized – is now discarded with contempt and hatred.

    This primitive defense mechanism is called “splitting”. To the narcissist, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. A narcissistic leader is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc.

    The “small people”, the “rank and file”, the “loyal soldiers” of the narcissist – his flock, his nation, his employees – they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated – is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of the narcissist. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

  9. You know what? I don’t give a flying flip if narcissistic behavior is a defense mechanism. Is that a sort of excuse for their lying, vile and damaging behavior?

  10. One thing that is not mentioned here is how the sycophant continues the narcissist’s attack on his child by acting as a proxy. The sycophant is at war with the divorced narcissist’s children, who she perceives as competition for his adoration. She cannot openly attack the narcissist’s child for fear of running afoul of the narcissist (the N actually doesn’t care or is hoping for this outcome, but she is unaware of his evil since she has bought into the facade of caring parent.) So the N’s child’s conversations with the sycophant are laced with lacerating viciousness directed at the N’s child (who is actually not competiting with her for the N’s affection as she thinks) but seems outwardly civil. The sychophant is actually a junior narcissist, so has mastered the fine art of the “double” conversation or how to berate someone without it being obvious. As a result, the sycophant does the dirty work, both of cleaning up, paying the rent, etc., after the N, and of coninuing the verbal abuse of the child by acting as a proxy. The undertone of all discussions between N’s child and sycophant is, read: “you are nothing, he is everything, and I’m the one he’s taking along when he achieves his great success.” Which the N’s child knows all too well from experience is a fairy tale that will never be realized.

    • Bumping this thread to applaud the comment above. How very insighful! My mother is a sychphant – my father a classic Narcissist. I am the family scape goat and the eldest. My sister is the golden child and the youngest. My brother is a forgotton middle child who has turned to drugs.

      I have arrived at the same conclusion as the commenter above me and feel that this realisation is yet to dawn on psychological horizons.

      Interestingly, according to a Myer-Briggs personality test (Carl Jung) I am an “INFJ”. Basically, primarily functioning intuitively. I am curious if the above commenter is a similar personality type and, curiously, if my/everyones personalities are to some degree a by product of the ‘nature vs nurture’ aspect of growing up in dysfunctional (or functional) families??

      Just saying …

  11. I really liked this article. It solidifies what I have thought for a long time. Having dealt with bullies at school I started to notice a pattern. Recently I was a temp at a company that allowed someone to rule the roost. Managers told me she was a problem in every department she worked in. I saw how she treated people and ended up on her wrong side for no reason. But unlike the others that cowered at her feet, I stood up to her. Nicely, but I showed her that I would not be pushed around. When I thought she was becoming dangerous, we ended up in a meeting with the manager where I again held my ground. Someone told me later that I “did the company a service.” And he didn’t even know what was said during this meeting. I am no longer there, but know they are still putting up with this difficult person and are having a hard time getting management to help them in dealing with this bully. Even after what I was told by several managers.

    One of this woman’s sycophant actually got tired of her behavior and told me that she didn’t raise her children to be like this and distanced herself from the offender. She put in for another department. There are other’s within the company that don’t stand up to her or tell her she is wrong. These sycophants feed the monster and they are even more responsible than the offender because she would not be the way she is without their support. One even threatened me at her request. Again, I stood my ground and later both backed off. I feel that the antics of this “nut-job” exacerbated the health of at least one employee who went on disability after leaving the company.

    Companies have programs that deal with sexual harassment yet
    don’t address a problem that affects not only a large group of people that have to deal with these people, but affects the business in the long run. There should be programs introduced that not only talk about bullying, but how those that feed the monster are even more responsible.

  12. Wow, This is all such an awakening to something I thought would go away just based on the inhuman nature of the actions.
    Twenty Years, ten before it got bad. Very cruel Mother syndrome.
    Today is Christmas, she has threatened to call the police and told me I cannot participate in a combined family dinner, the reason, she does not like the way or tone that I have been speaking over the last few days? Just another excuse to ruin the Holiday for me and our 10 year old beautiful daughter.

    Every year is the same and it is always my fault.
    I have been so confused until I found out about this disorder.
    I am so sad that , it looks like I have to get out to cure the problem.
    I am afraid for my daughter, that the influence will lead her to the disorder and thus a life with no love. She is so beautiful and caring right now, and I want to have the place and time to encourage that.
    With a divorce who knows. That is the only reason that I have not left. This is very painful. These Holidays are the perfect venue for the pain.

  13. My ex husband (going through a divorce right now) has NPD and is both equally somatic and cerebral, surrounds himself with sycophants (“friends”) that he has selectively chosen to (1) tell him how great he is all the time (2) never question his inappropriate behaviour, addictions, mistreatment of others. As his wife, none of these people ever believed that (1) he was abusive (2) he was lying (3) he was sexually promiscuous (4) socially inappropriate (5) substance abuse problem (5) inflated, egotistical, grandiose, haughty, selfish (6) little to no empathy.
    He managed to easily attract sycophants because he would manipulate their needs to feed his own. For instance, make the unattractive person feel good by compliments, make the unintelligent feel smart, etc. he would find their weakness and make it a tool to manipulate. This creates a cycle for them that they need him to feel important, attractive, smart, etc; in exchange for Narcissistic Supply they would give him.
    In my particular case, I agree with the person who posted about seeing the ‘hurt child’ at times. In those moments I see my ex like that I feel sorry for him. That his First Level Narcissistic Supply is from random women/men who he needs to find him attractive/charming who he will generally try to have sex with (2) His followers, his sycophants, otherwise known as friends aka codependents (3) Tertiary Narcissistic Supply from (me) his wife that makes him look normal, someone he can control, someone who he idealized because I had what he wanted, I was a trophy that he ‘won’.

  14. Well written! I’ve not only been in a relationship with a narc, but have also worked with some. You hit it spot-on!

  15. I think politicians are either narcissists or sycophants

  16. Thank you for the blog post, it is an interesting and insightful view of an obviously common psychological issue. The ideas presented here from everyone have helped me to understand better the people that I am in contact with daily that try to make me feel as if I am in the wrong, even though I feel, deep down, that they are the ones that are mistaken. Fascinating stuff.

  17. My son is the narcissist and his wife is his sycophant who enables him. She survived two troubling relationships with, first, her alcoholic, self-destructive father and afterwards her physically abusive step-father. She, who grew up in a trailer park, eventually glommed onto my son, who is now a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.. He could not have found a better life partner than the woman he found, three years younger than himself, in our daughter-in-law, who followed him into a more respectable life situation. Despite most married relationships, when one spouse can tell the other without retribution that he/she has made a mistake, my daughter-in-law supports and thereby enables our son’s ongoing disruptive assaults on our family, especially as it involves his sister, our oldest daughter. She, our daughter-in-law, sent me a long e-mail response that, if printed letter-wise, would have included several typed pages, castigating me for not praising my son nearly enough and for not supporting his ongoing rebuff of our oldest daughter, our daughter’s husband and their two children. He has no reason to snub our daughter, her husband or her children. She actually did them countless favors when they were jobless and homeless and she gave them a place to stay, rent-free, with their dog, who caused a lot of damage to her apartment, which they eventually vacated without paying back their back rent. And upon vacating the apartment our son left her a letter telling her how much he was disappointed in her. She is overweight and married to a South African dark-skinned Indian and therefore does not appear to reflect positively on him in his estimation.
    Our son and his wife have become a couple of spoiled brats, insisting on getting their own way. Except for their two beautiful little girls, effectively held hostage to any negative response to their behavior, the rest of us, including our three daughters and two sons-in-laws, would put them out of our lives. We love our son, but his behavior is reprehensible. Who, for example, would stand arms crossed his chest, at the threshold of a hospital room of a critically ill baby, as if to say, “so, I’m here, what else do I have to do? I could care less if he lives or dies.” Who would attend another sister’s wedding and reception and go out of his way to show his disdain for his eldest sister by making a show of snubbing her two little children? I’m embarrassed for him and his wife, who showed themselves, to he rest of the people attending the wedding, to be such little, spiteful people! Our girls, who have not been previously snubbed, both say they will “never” forgive their brother’s terrible behavior. And yet they both worry that should they ever attain less than their brother’s best expectations and reflect less brightly upon him they too will be shunned.

  18. There is one person I knew from a while back who has really been showing her true colours for all to see over the last few years. I am not well disposed towards her as she stole my husband, but moving swiftly on – she maintains a blog and several sites and whilst it pretends to be a community thing it really is all about her. On her blog, she makes an issue out of the smallest stuff and appears to have a persecution complex saying she is “constantly abused” – it is not abuse, it is merely people getting fed up with it being about her all the time. Despite the fact she harrasses various people in her community and names them by name in naming and shaming efforts on Facebook, she is painting herself as the harassed one WTF??
    Ignoring doesn’t help, screaming at her doesn’t help and reasoning doesn’t help, she simply will not listen to any opinion but her own. I think she is mentally ill and her husband (whom she married in order to get a foot in the community) must also be, in order to put up with her, she is such a brass necked liar it is unreal. I am told gentle humour works on these types of people, but frankly I hope someone bursts that blowhard’s balloon, and fast. I can’t believe she’s not embarrassed to act like she does.

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