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Without doubt, being in a narcissistic toxic relationship is a most difficult thing to handle, that is because it can be very frustrating and confusing to work out what is happening to you in this personal relationship. But that is the nature of narcissism and narcissistic abuse. However, when it comes to narcissistic abuse, prevention truly is better than cure. If we want to protect ourselves from becoming targets for narcissists and their toxic narcissistic abuse, we all need to learn how to spot narcissistic behaviour so we can put down healthy boundaries from the start of the relationship (true boundary).  That way we are less likely to be taken advantage of by these toxic individuals in what will most definitely turn into an abusive relationship (i.e. physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, etc.).  Below is a list of some of the most common narcissistic personality traits found in this type of intimate relationship with a toxic person:


Grandiosity is the hallmark of narcissism. A grandiose sense of self is usually the most outstanding and discriminating feature of individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder  (NPD). Grandiosity can be expressed in an unrealistic overvaluation of talents and abilities; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited beauty, power, wealth or success; and a belief in their unrealistic sense of superiority and uniqueness. Indicators of narcissism is in the narcissist’s conduct.  Their grandiosity is accompanied by boastful, pretentious, self-centred and self-referential behaviour.  The research shows that the grandiose narcissist exaggerates their talents, capacity, and achievements unrealistically.  They believe in their invulnerability and do not recognize their limitations.  The narcissist’s grandiosity (and magical thinking) leads them to believe that they are better than everybody else, therefore deserves special privileges and attention. These abusive people’s grandiosity leaves them feeling unrealistically powerful, important, invincible and therefore, highly dangerous.


Individuals with NPD have an absolute strong sense of narcissistic entitlement.  Entitlement, when accompanied by a low sense of emotional intelligence, is likely to lead to toxic relationships.  Narcissists feel entitled to certain things like attention, money, sex, and admiration. In addition, they will exploit their victim’s vulnerabilities for personal gain, leaving them with deep personal wounds.  If the targeted victim does not acquiesce to their will, they will experience a terrorising personal attack at every level of the self (physical, psychological, and spiritual). Narcissists expect others, especially their narcissistic supply (victims), to provide them with what they want, if they fail the narcissist will take it as personal rejection and abandonment which will cause them to feel shame. When their shame is triggered it is likely to lead to a rage. Why do they act this way? Because, in their sickness they perceive themselves to be “special people”, and not the disordered person they really are.

The pathological narcissist operates between their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personas.  So, when you first meet a narcissist during the Idealising Phase, you will be introduced to their “False Self”; the wonderful, charming, and mesmerising Dr Jekyll. This is an illusionary self; a shallow façade that is a temporary fantasied self. However, underneath that façade lurks the narcissist’s “True Self”; the terrifying and controlling Mr Hyde. In the first phase of the relationship, the narcissist’s control seems benign, that is because it is deliberately wrapped up in what resembles loving, seductive behaviour, and therefore it is hard for the victim to spot. They appear to be lovely people, with positive traits designed to seduce the victim into thinking they have met their soul mate, and are embarking on a long-term relationship.  But all is not what it seems.   The Mr Hyde persona is only likely to show him/herself when the Devaluing Phase of the relationship begins (Phase 2). Before that, he/she will be kept hidden out of sight while their Dr Jekyll persona “hooks” the victim in their highly complex dance. These hooks bury deep into the victim’s psyche and are hard to remove (it is a slow painful business).

Entitlement is often associated with feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, and inferiority. These emotions cause the narcissistic individual to become hostile towards other people who don’t give them what they think they deserve. Narcissistic abusers are very skilled at manipulating their victims into thinking that they care deeply about them. They are also adept at convincing their victims that they are special and unique. In reality, narcissists are  self-centred and see themselves as superior to everyone else.  They take advantage of others’ weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and insecurities. They are often charming, seductive, and manipulative. Narcissists use their position of power over people to get what they want, usually at the expense of someone else. They may pretend that they care about you when they don’t care about you at all. They are extremely self-centred   therefore, only think about themselves.


Manipulation is another characteristic of those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and narcissists are particularly fond of manipulating others into surrendering their firm boundaries and using them as narcissistic supply. Manipulation involves many behaviours, such as lying, deceit, and using charm to get what the narcissist wants from others. They will use flattery, guilt, fear, shame, intimidation, manipulation, and emotional blackmail to control others. Abusive narcissists also use  manipulation as a defence mechanism for hiding their true intentions, for example, they use their charm and charisma to make people feel good about themselves. That way the victim is more likely to get hooked during the Idealisation Phase, and willingly do things that benefit the master manipulator. In other words, the narcissist makes themselves look like someone trustworthy, kind, honest, and sincere. They cunningly manipulate the target person into believing that they have their best interests at heart, which of course, is untrue.  Probably their favourite tool of manipulation is ‘Gaslighting’.  Gaslighting is the narcissist’s covert psychological aggression in which they will manipulate and erode their victims sense of reality, leaving them unable to trust even their intuition.  This insidious form of mental abuse will eventually leave the victim reeling from the effects of gaslighting, leaving them feeling confused, compliant, drained, lifeless and easy to control. Remember, pathological narcissists only see people as objects that exist only to facilitate their  desires.


Despite our best efforts at referencing etc. we have [on a number of occasions] been threatened with legal action for publishing some articles we have ‘reposted’/shared and thus will now only provide an introduction to an article and link it back to the original source. Whilst some authors are happy to have their work reproduced as long as it is correctly referenced others are not and so, rather than single out those who are more litigation minded, we will treat all articles equally and simply provide a reference for your continued reading. 

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The link to continue reading this article is:



The 3 Faces Of Evil is an introduction to Narcissism and the Dark Triad.

When Shame Begets Shame is an extensive look at shame and how it fuels the narcissist’s behaviour.

The Gaslighting Syndrome covers the topic of Gaslighting and many related areas in great detail.

The 3 Faces Of Evil

When Shame Begets Shame

The Gaslighting Syndrome

Follow Christine
Christine is a Psychotherapist, Educator, Author and Supervisor of mental health professionals for over 28 years. She was part of a team in the Trauma Unit of St. Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin, and has worked specifically with victims of pathological narcissistic abuse in her private practice for many years.
Her books, “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse” and “When Shame Begets Shame: How Narcissists hurt and shame their victims” set out to to help those who have been affected by a narcissist and also to address the shortfalls in a therapist’s education, so that they become better equipped to work with survivors of narcissistic abuse.Much of her knowledge has come from her post-grad studies in Criminology and Forensic Psychology, and it is through these disciplines that she has gained her understanding of “The Dark Triad”, (Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy).
These three faces of evil are vital information for understanding the full spectrum of narcissistic abuse and the dire effects on the victims.It is her vision that narcissistic abuse becomes part of the curriculum of all Mental Health clinicians.

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