It is often said that all narcissists tell on themselves. But how do they do this, and why? I’m going to talk about what projection is, why pathologically narcissistic people use it, and how it can reveal the truth to you. Understanding narcissists and projection are one of the best ways to break free and heal from toxic individuals.
The narcissist’s projection can manifest in a variety of ways. In romantic relationships, at first, the narcissist will idealise you. You are placed on a pedestal, told how you are so special, and different from everyone else. The narcissist seems to be so happy and entirely in love with you.
You are led to believe that you are going to be the narcissist’s salvation from all past hurt, in a relationship of pure, unconditional love.
As time passes, however, you begin to sense that the bond between you perhaps isn’t so magical after all. The relationship energy feels darker; the narcissist far less adoring of you. At this point, you find yourself being criticised daily.
Yet, the malicious words hurled at you are cleverly disguised, with the blame placed squarely on you. You’re trapped in a battle of psychological warfare, but you don’t even realise it.
“Why do you hate me so much?”
“You are a controlling, abusive bully!”
“You are a very selfish person.”
“Why are you not more popular?”
“You are cheating on me.”
“You are worthless.”
“You are such a crazy person; you need psychological help.”
“Everything always has to be your way, doesn’t it?”
“You are trying to destroy me.”
These are all common examples of narcissistic projection. Many victims of narcissistic abuse will start to question themselves at this stage. You begin to wonder; am I really this horrible, bad person?
The Narcissist’s Conflict
Narcissists do not have a healthy, developed sense of self. Inside every narcissist lies a dilapidated, highly damaged true self. This is the narcissist’s original personality or soul, which by adulthood is fragmented beyond repair. To compensate, the narcissist has developed a false self – this is the character that you’ve been largely dealing with.
The false self is essentially an ego. However, in pathologically narcissistic people, it has manifested into a monstrous alter ego. The false self demands perfection, greatness, and specialness from the narcissist at all times. It mercilessly and brutally attacks the original true self of the narcissist if they fail to satisfy the unreasonable requests.
Owing to the false self’s quest for perfection, the narcissist has disowned their broken and unhealed fragments of personality. The trouble that now arises is that these fragments need to be assigned elsewhere.
Why the Narcissist Uses Projection
As time passes, the false self inevitably decides that it is not being mollified or praised enough. As a result of their flawed perception, the narcissist sees you as having ‘wronged’ him or her. This could be over something very minor, such as not agreeing with, or questioning the narcissist.
The false self wants to fight back and ‘defend’ against these imperfections being pointed out. As they do not possess the emotional intelligence to understand and heal, the narcissist cannot own or accept any flaws.
This is where the projections begin. Projection is a defence mechanism, which is necessary for the narcissist’s survival. Without it, a significant narcissistic injury will be incurred. This feels like emotional obliteration and is unbearably painful for the narcissist. The narcissist wants you to carry all of their pain and take responsibility for their behaviour so that they can feel relief.
The narcissist’s disordered way of thinking has become so entrenched that they actually believe their fabrications. In the moment of projection, the narcissist sees you as the one at fault, and deserving of punishment.
The Reality of Projection
The truth about narcissists and projection is horrifying, chilling and immeasurably sad. All of the accusations that the narcissist directs towards you; the narcissist is talking to him or herself. They are looking into a mirror and speaking to it. The true and false selves have very poorly defined communication; the outward presentation is highly disordered.
So, when the narcissist calls you a “controlling, abusive bully” – he or she is, in fact, talking to the false self. “You are worthless” is what the false self tells the true self every day. “Why do you hate me so much” is once again the narcissist’s self-talk, as the false self cruelly attacks the true self.
These projections have nothing to do with you. The narcissist doesn’t even see you; you are not a person with emotions and character of your own to him or her. The narcissist is at war in their mind, and projection is their weapon. This isn’t your battle to fight, and victory or peace isn’t attainable. The best you can do is walk, or run, far away to save yourself.
If you found The Truth About Narcissists and Projection helpful, check out Why Does the Narcissist Have So Many Friends?