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How Narcissists Manipulate Through Playing The Victim?

The Dangerous Game of Playing the Perpetual Victim by Narcissists.

Exposing Narcissists' Emotional Rollercoaster Manipulation-by Som Dutt

Have you ever wondered how some individuals seem to always play the victim, yet somehow manage to be the center of attention? You might not realize it, but these people may be exhibiting signs of narcissism.

“Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people.”
― Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

Narcissists are known for their manipulative tactics rooted in a need for control and self-preservation. One such tactic is playing the victim — maneuvering situations so that they appear innocent while others take the blame.

“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego.”
― Amanda Torroni

In this article post, We shall go into the realm of narcissistic individuals and reveal how they manipulate through playing the victim. We’ll also explore techniques used by narcissists, ways to spot their behavior, and coping strategies for healing from their emotional abuse.

Key Takeaways

  • Narcissists manipulate through victim playing by portraying themselves as the innocent party in order to gain sympathy and attention from others.
  • Common signs of victim-playing behavior include always blaming others, exaggerating their tragedies, and refusing to accept responsibility for their acts.
  • To respond to narcissists playing the victim, set clear boundaries and refuse to engage in their manipulative tactics. Seek help from a therapist or support group if needed. Remember that you deserve respect and happiness in your relationships.

Understanding Narcissism And Personality Traits

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a complex and pervasive personality disorder characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and insatiable craving for admiration.

“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.”
― Kurt Cobain

It is essential to understand the various traits associated with narcissism in order to recognize how these individuals manipulate through playing the victim. Common characteristics of narcissists include grandiosity, entitlement, arrogance, superficial charm, and a strong need for constant praise or attention.

Additionally, they may be prone to creating fantasies about success or power and seeking validation from others in order to bolster their self-worth.

“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.”
― Sam Vaknin

However, not all individuals with NPD present the same way; some display covert narcissistic tendencies as well. Covert narcissists are less outwardly boastful but still harbor deep feelings of insecurity and unworthiness that often manifest through manipulation tactics like playing the victim role.

They can be passive-aggressive in nature while maintaining an air of innocence or even martyrdom — further heightening their ability to exploit others’ sympathies for personal gain.

“I wonder if the course of narcissism through the ages would have been any different had Narcissus first peered into a cesspool. He probably did.”
― Frank O’Hara

Definition Of Victim Playing And Its Connection With Narcissism

Victim playing involves portraying oneself as the victim of circumstances, often through exaggerated or false stories, in order to manipulate others into providing support and validation.

“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Victim playing serves this purpose by allowing the narcissist to turn the focus onto themselves and away from any negative experiences they may have caused.

How Narcissists Manipulate Through Victim Playing

Narcissists are masters of manipulation, and one of their most effective tactics is playing the victim. They use this technique to garner sympathy, attention, and control over their victims.

“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence, their mission is to distract, detract and extract, and make you live in abject poverty.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

Narcissists will often provoke or create conflict with others before playing the victim so that they can shift the focus onto themselves. They may exaggerate events or twist facts in their favor to gain more support from those around them.

For example, if a narcissist is caught in a lie, they might turn it around and play the victim by claiming that they never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings and were only trying to protect themselves from being judged unfairly.

Techniques Used By Narcissists To Play The Victim

Narcissists use various techniques, including blaming others and avoiding responsibility, using exaggerated or false stories to gain sympathy, gaslighting, and emotional manipulation tactics, turning the tables on the victim, and using pity to gain sympathy and manipulate others.

“I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn’t say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers.”
― Sylvia Plath

Blaming Others And Avoiding Responsibility

Narcissists have a difficult time taking responsibility for their actions, which leads them to play the victim whenever they are confronted with criticism or blame. They often deflect any negative attention away from themselves by blaming others in an attempt to protect their ego and maintain control over the situation.

For example, if a narcissist’s partner confronts them about neglecting household responsibilities, instead of acknowledging their fault, the narcissist may shift blame onto their partner for not being supportive enough.

“Narcissists are consumed with maintaining a shallow false self to others. They’re emotionally crippled souls that are addicted to attention. Because of this they use a multitude of games, in order to receive adoration. Sadly, they are the most ungodly of God’s creations because they don’t show remorse for their actions, take steps to make amends or have empathy for others. They are morally bankrupt.”
― Shannon L. Alder

By making others feel guilty or responsible for things that are not actually their fault, they are able to exert power and control over individuals who would otherwise challenge their behavior.

Victims of this type of manipulation often feel confused and helpless, struggling to understand why they are unfairly blamed for problems caused by someone else’s actions.

Using Exaggerated Or False Stories To Gain Sympathy

Narcissists often use exaggerated or false stories to gain sympathy and manipulate others, particularly when playing the victim. They may tell elaborate tales of woe or personal struggles to elicit a response from their audience.

“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.”
― John Steinbeck

For example, a narcissist might claim that they worked tirelessly on a project that was ultimately successful while ignoring or dismissing the contributions of others who helped them along the way.

They may also fabricate stories about being mistreated by others as a way of gaining sympathy and asserting their superiority over perceived rivals.

Gaslighting And Emotional Manipulation Tactics

Gaslighting and emotional manipulation tactics include making the victim feel guilty or responsible for the narcissist’s problems, threatening them with consequences if they don’t comply with their demands, creating self-doubt in them, or using their emotions against them to invalidate their feelings. Narcissists often use these tactics to deflect blame onto their victims or justify their abusive behavior.

“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
― Sam Vaknin

It is important for the actual victim of this manipulation to recognize these manipulative behaviors so that they can help victims of emotional abuse. Victims may experience confusion, self-doubt, anxiety, and depression as a result of gaslighting and emotional manipulation. They may even acquire post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in stressful situations.

By understanding how gaslighting and emotional manipulation work, the real victim can better identify when someone is being abused by a narcissist playing the victim. 

Turning The Tables On The Victim

Narcissists do this by accusing the victim of being abusive or manipulative towards them, deflecting attention away from their own negative behavior and onto the victim.

“Playing the victim role: Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.”
― George K. Simon Jr.

For example, if a narcissist has been caught in a lie, they may turn around and accuse their partner of not trusting them or being paranoid.

Another way that narcissists turn the tables on their victims is through projection. This means that they attribute feelings or behaviors to others that are actually their own.

“Lies don’t end relationships the truth does.”
― Shannon L. Alder

So if a narcissist is cheating on their partner, they may accuse their partner of being unfaithful instead.

Using Pity To Gain Sympathy And Manipulate Others

Narcissists often use pity to manipulate those around them. They may portray themselves as helpless victims in order to gain sympathy and control others. By eliciting feelings of compassion, they can effectively guilt their targets into doing what they want.

“For some, life may be a playground to undermine the brainwaves of others or simply a vainglorious game with an armory of theatrics, illustrating only bleak self-deception, haughty narcissism and dim deficiency in empathy. (“Another empty room”)”
― Erik Pevernagie

For example, a narcissistic partner might constantly complain about how difficult their life is and how much they need the other person’s help and support. In reality, this behavior could be a way for the narcissist to maintain power over their partner by creating a sense of obligation and dependency.

How To Spot Victim-Playing Mentality

Look out for common signs such as narcissists always portraying themselves as the victim, exaggerating their misfortunes to gain sympathy, and blaming others for their actions.

Common Signs To Look For

It can be challenging to spot when a narcissist is playing the victim, but there are some common signs to look for:

– They always want to focus on their problems and how others have wronged them

– They use guilt trips and pity plays to manipulate others into doing what they want

– They exaggerate or lie about their situation to gain sympathy and attention

– They refuse to take responsibility for their actions and always blame others

– They have a pattern of unstable relationships where they are always the victim

– They often make themselves out to be better than others while portraying themselves as a helpless victim

– They tend to create drama and chaos around them, often using it to manipulate those around them

– They display a lack of empathy for the emotions of those around them.

By recognizing these signs, you can spot when someone is manipulating you by playing the victim. It’s important not to engage in their manipulation tactics and set boundaries in order to protect your own mental health. Remember that it’s not your job to fix someone else’s problems, especially when they are using manipulative tactics.

How To Respond To A Narcissist Playing Victim

Responding to a narcissist who is playing the victim can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help. One approach is to set clear boundaries and refuse to engage in their manipulative tactics.

“But both the narcissist and his partner do not really consider each other. Trapped in the moves of an all-consuming dance macabre, they follow the motions morbidly — semiconscious, desensitized, exhausted, and concerned only with survival.”
― Sam Vaknin

This means not being drawn into arguments or attempts to make you feel guilty.

It’s important to remember that it’s not your responsibility to fix the narcissist’s behavior or emotional state. Instead, focus on your own well-being by prioritizing self-care and taking steps to avoid toxic relationships.

“Never take advice about never taking advice. That is an old vice of men — to dish it out without being able to take it — the blind leading the blind into more blindness.”
― Criss Jami

In addition, learning how to spot signs of manipulation and understanding cognitive distortions used by these individuals can help you protect yourself from future harm.

Setting Boundaries And Refusing To Engage In Manipulation Tactics

Setting boundaries is an important part of protecting oneself from manipulative behaviors. Here are some ways to set boundaries and refuse to engage in manipulation tactics when dealing with a narcissist playing the victim:

1. Recognize the behavior: Learn to identify manipulative tactics used by narcissists. This will help you stay one step ahead and avoid falling into their traps.

2. Refuse to engage: Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into their drama and manipulation games. Refuse to engage in discussions that revolve around blaming, guilt-tripping or emotional blackmail.

3. State your limits: Clearly communicate what you’re okay with and what you’re not comfortable with. This can include refusing to listen to their twisted stories or setting clear consequences for their abusive behavior.

4. Avoid reacting emotionally: Narcissists thrive on emotional reactions, so it’s important to remain calm and rational when dealing with them. Take deep breaths and don’t give in to their attempts at provocation.

5. Stay true to yourself: Don’t let a narcissist’s manipulations change who you are or what you believe in. Stay grounded in your values and don’t compromise them for anyone.

Negative Effects Of Narcissistic Victim Playing On Others

Narcissistic victim playing can have detrimental effects on others, including increased stress and anxiety, loss of trust and respect, emotional manipulation and abuse, damaged relationships, and potential long-term mental health effects.

“In a narcissist’s world you are not their one and only. You are an extension of that person and last place in their mind, while they secure back up narcissistic supply.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Increased Stress And Anxiety

Victim playing by narcissists can lead to increased stress and anxiety for their targets. Narcissists often create a distorted reality in which they are the victim and others are to blame for their problems, causing those around them to feel constantly on edge.

The constant emotional manipulation and gaslighting can also cause feelings of self-doubt, making it difficult for victims to trust themselves or their own perceptions.

“Being a control freak is a weakness, not a strength. If you can’t allow others to shine, you’re exhibiting signs of narcissism and showing a lack of self-confidence. It is isolation through ego.”
― Stewart Stafford

Moreover, being close with a narcissist who frequently plays the victim tends to be emotionally exhausting since it requires constant attention and support that is never reciprocated.

It can also lead to feelings of resentment towards them when you realize the extent of their manipulations, especially if you have invested significant time and energy into trying to help them overcome these issues.

“Narcissistic personality disorder is named for Narcissus, from Greek mythology, who fell in love with his own reflection. Freud used the term to describe persons who were self-absorbed, and psychoanalysts have focused on the narcissist’s need to bolster his or her self-esteem through grandiose fantasy, exaggerated ambition, exhibitionism, and feelings of entitlement.”
― Donald W. Black

If left unaddressed, triggers from exposure can cause long-term effects on one’s mental health leading up to PTSD symptoms. 

Loss Of Trust And Respect

One of the negative effects of narcissistic victim playing is the loss of trust and respect in relationships. When a narcissist constantly plays the victim, they create an environment that erodes trust and undermines the foundation of any healthy relationship.

“Even though friends say they are interested in your life, they never really want to talk about you as much as you want them to.”
― Charise Mericle Harper

As a result, victims may feel like their emotions are not validated or heard, leading them to distance themselves from the narcissist over time.

Emotional Manipulation And Abuse

Narcissists frequently use emotional manipulation and abuse as part of their victim-playing tactics. They may use your vulnerabilities to control you through guilt, shame, fear, or pity to get what they want.

“A girl who travels will need someone that questions her, not too little, and not too much. She’ll need someone to read her, but also really listen to her. Because she’ll want to do the same. She’ll want a person that shares an interest but at the same time stays genuine to who they are. Not drown in a puddle of narcissism. And not drown in a lake of fascination.”
― lauren klarfeld

Emotional manipulation is a subtle form of psychological abuse that can lead to long-lasting trauma and confusion. For instance, they can gaslight you by altering reality to fit their agenda or using passive-aggressive behavior like sarcastic comments or silent treatment until you comply with their demands.

“At a moment when we must face too much self-righteousness and narcissism on our path, it is a soothing relief for our soul if we can permeate through the shallowness around and penetrate the essence of matters, allowing us to still our mind.”
― Erik Pevernagie, Stilling our Mind

Additionally, narcissists may exploit your empathy by playing up their suffering or making it seem like nothing is ever enough for them but ignoring your needs altogether.

Damaged Relationships And Mental Health Effects

Narcissistic victim playing can cause severe damage to relationships and the mental health of those involved. The constant manipulation and emotional abuse inflicted by narcissists can lead to a breakdown in trust, communication, and intimacy between partners.

“When the healthy pursuit of self-interest and self-realization turns into self-absorption, other people can lose their intrinsic value in our eyes and become mere means to the fulfillment of our needs and desires.”
― P.M. Forni

In addition to damaging relationships, victims may also experience a range of negative mental health effects. These include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a distorted sense of reality.

Learning To Recognize And Avoid Toxic Relationships

Recognizing and avoiding toxic relationships is essential for your mental and emotional well-being. Toxic relationships are those that leave you feeling drained, anxious, or unhappy.

“To focus on how I’m doing more than what Christ has done is Christian narcissism”
― Tullian Tchividjian

Narcissists often display traits of toxicity in their relationships and it’s crucial to be aware of these red flags early on.

It’s important to set boundaries when it comes to toxic relationships, both with yourself and the other person involved. This means being firm about what behaviors you will not tolerate from someone else and sticking to them.

“The spirit of arrogance most definitely makes you shine. It paints a bright red target on your own forehead.”
― Criss Jami, Killosophy

Coping Strategies For Healing From Narcissistic Manipulation

  1. Seek professional help: One important step in healing from the effects of narcissistic manipulation is seeking help from a therapist or support group. Narcissistic abuse can have long-lasting impacts on an individual’s mental health and well-being, including decreased self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

“Imagining that you are deep and complex, but others are simple, is one of the primary signs of malignant selfishness.”
― Stefan Molyneux

Therapy sessions provide a safe space to process experiences, learn coping strategies, and develop skills to set healthy boundaries.

2. Connect with support groups: Support groups are also beneficial as they provide the ability to connect with individuals who have been through similar experiences. and validate one’s feelings. Being part of a community provides assurance that individuals are not alone in their struggles.

“The hated man is the result of his hater’s pride rather than his hater’s conscience.”
― Criss Jami, Diotima

Seek resources that cater specifically toward survivors of narcissistic abuse as these will be more helpful in the recovery journey.

3. Prioritize self-care: Engage in activities that bring joy and positivity into your life, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies.

4. Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to heal at your own pace.

Remember that healing from narcissistic abuse takes time and effort, but prioritizing your mental health is crucial for moving forward in a positive direction. By practicing self-care, seeking professional support when needed, and setting healthy boundaries, you can begin to regain control of your life and reclaim your sense of self-worth.

“See it for what it is and own it, rather than rethink it so you don’t have to deal with the trauma of the abuse. This is the only way to move on — through acceptance.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Understanding The Importance Of Boundaries And Self-respect

It is crucial to establish and maintain boundaries when dealing with someone who plays the victim, particularly if they are exhibiting narcissistic traits. Boundaries help protect your mental health and prevent emotional manipulation or abuse from occurring.

“From where I’m sitting,
I AM the centre of the Universe!”
― Sebastyne Young

For instance, you might ask for space if someone constantly guilt trips you into doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Or perhaps you could avoid engaging in conversations where the person tries to turn their negative experiences into a competition for sympathy.

“Kill me if I ever look that Bad” . . . “Dude, what are you saying? . . . On the TV? That is you, dude. From like five years ago.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Snuff

It’s important to remember that having healthy boundaries means prioritizing yourself without feeling guilty about it.


Narcissists are skilled manipulators who use victim-playing as a tactic to gain sympathy and control over others. By using guilt trips, false stories, and emotional manipulation tactics like gaslighting, they can distort reality and turn the tables on their victims.

It’s important to recognize these behaviors in order to set healthy boundaries and avoid toxic relationships. Seeking help from a therapist or support group can also be beneficial for those affected by narcissistic manipulation.

Remember that you deserve respect, love, and happiness in all of your relationships.

About the Author :

Som Dutt, Top writer in Philosophy & Psychology on I make people Think, Relate, Feel & Move. Let's Embrace Inner Chaos and Appreciate Deep, Novel & Heavy Thoughts.

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