Then there is the other side of the coin, which is an even more menacing sign of bad faith -- what narcissists do to the images of others. Consumed with pathological envy, they make themselves look good the bogus way, by making others look bad.
In other words, malignant narcissists feel that praiseworthy information about you diminishes them, and they feel that denigrating information about you elevates them. Hence, like the raptor, narcissists must tear their betters "down off that pedestal" by maligning them. Therefore "malignant" is a good name for malignant narcissists, because every malignant narcissist's middle name is Malign.
Overall, individuals high in narcissism displayed amplified responses to social comparison information, experiencing greater positive affect from downward comparisons and greater hostile affect from upward comparisons.
--Bogart, L.M., Benotsh, E.G. and Pavlovic, J.D. (2004), Feeling Superior but Threatened: The Relation of Narcissism to Social Comparison, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 26, Iss.1, pp. 35-44
Whom do narcissists malign? Almost everyone. If you suspect someone of being a narcissist, praise a person who obviously deserves it to him or her and observe their reaction. It shows.
Narcissistic rage, character assassination and projection are some of the overt ways in which the narcissist expresses himself. For example, she may envy a work colleague's beauty, and project her feelings into her colleague by accusing her of being envious.
-- Winning Teams: Can You Recognize a Narcissist? online at http://www.winning-teams.com/recognizenarcissist.html
Malignant narcissists speak well of very few others. Only their narcissistic parent (when no longer vulnerable to that parent) and anyone they can aggrandize themselves by association with at others' expense.
For example, if you don't get along with someone, the narcissist will say, "I get along with him fine." He will have nothing but praise for that person. Likewise, if you got bad service at a restaurant, the narcissist will say, "They gave me excellent service." The narcissist praises the other because it reflects badly on you and well on him.
Similarly, the narcissist with a trophy wife goes around praising her beauty. He's aggrandizing himself by association with her. And at the expense of everyone not good enough to win a trophy wife like his. He'll likewise aggrandize himself by association with some important person he knows, praising that person everywhere he goes to name-drop.
But such special cases are the only ones you hear a good word about from a narcissist. In fact, a narcissist will stubbornly refuse to admit any fault in them at all. They are ideal, perfect in his or her eyes.
But the rest of humanity get the opposite. Often, narcissists glibly sneak bad ideas about others into your head. They do this by chipping away at that person's image subtly and relentlessly every time they mention him or her. Often perfuming the bad offering to cover up its smell.
An example is the man who never spoke of his wife except when talking about something else and laughing that, "Yeah, and the wife got pretty shook up about it."
That doesn't sound so bad, does it? But often this was pure fiction. More important, is that the way you'd like to hear yourself spoken of? Is that the way you'd talk about someone you want others to like? What type of picture does that paint of her? Is his talk of her tending to make people think well of her and respect her? Does it endear her to them?
That narcissist would have blown a gasket if anyone had ever described him as easily shook up. Yet for forty years he relentlessly chipped away at his wife's image with little vandalizing remarks like that, never saying anything about her that made you tend to like and admire her. Always characterizing her in a way that diminished her.
In fact, this "shook up" thing is almost cultural, used by many men on women. So, ladies, here's a bazooka: Beat him to the punch in saying it -- tell him not to get "shook up," and watch the stunned look on his face. He suddenly will see offense in that remark.
However subtle the vandalism may be, you never hear a narcissist say anything about anyone that you would like to hear said about you.
Worse, narcissists are gossips. They eagerly listen to and spread slander. They are self-righteous finger-pointers, pulling the same stunt Lucifer did in the old Gnostic myth about Lucifer coming before God everyday and accusing the other angels of being bad. The result was "war in high places" until the good angels, lead by St. Michael the Archangel, cast down Lucifer (now called "Satan," that is, "the slanderer") to the status they deserve.
Narcissists can make it sound like a virtue, but giving others a bad name isn't a good deed. Even if the report is true, it cannot possibly be done in the spirit of goodwill unless it is done in true witness -- that is, responsible witness, on the record, not behind the back. Just because the badmouth perfumes his speech with words like love and Christian and concern and for the sake of our children (always the justification when there is no justification) and sports a halo does not change the spirit in which slander is done...
...If you know that narcissists are inveterate character assassins, it's easy to spot them. A narcissist has a trail of trashed good names and careers in his wake. He will even have told you strange and terrible lies about the people in his own immediate family.
If you know the person he is telling you something strange about, compare the accusation with your own observations. A narcissist will have ignored that person's real faults and smeared one of his or her virtues as a vice! And, if you know the narcissist, you'll find the narcissist himself is guilty of the very thing he's accusing this other person of.
It is rather disturbing to see how "okay" other people can be when they witness someone's image being vandalized and complacently go along with it. When the victim of the vandalizing protests then the victim is only providing some kind of "proof" of the false characterization of themselves. Shocking, really, to see how much people enjoy seeing other people's efforts and image get vandalized.My dear ol' Ma was guilty of this little game after I had restricted her contact with me to only the written word in the wake of her disastrous visit to my home Thanksgiving 2002. In the two and a half years that followed this event I was still in contact with people who were in direct contact with my mother (as well as being still in contact by letter with my mother). This was unfortunate for her because I kept finding out what she was saying behind my back which, of course, was quite different than what she was willing to say to me directly.
For the first time in my life I had taken a very strong stand against her. Yes, many times before I had quietly bucked her, but now I wasn't pulling any punches with her. I clearly spelled out my objections to her behavior in my home and demanded accountability. What does she do? While mouthing artistic non-apologies to me she was singing a different song to the people around her. Here it was that the vandalism to my character began and here is how it went.
"Anna is having a hard time right now. I know that I have not been a perfect mother and this has made life very hard for Anna. She is battling with some issues from her childhood. It is so hard to see her struggling with this right now."
Oh, my freaking goodness. My mother at this time was terrified of me because I was showing real strength. She was cowering and simpering while trying to placate me. But behind my back she tries to look like the concerned mother who is watching her daughter's mental health deteriorate. So she smears my virtue (strength of character) with its opposite, weakness. She portrays me to others as being stuck in my "childhood issues" and as acting out against her because of my brokenness. I had finally grown up and was acting from principle where she was concerned and she would tell others that I was retrograding into a helpless child battling old demons. This was not said in a spirit of good will. This was intentional slander.
To say the least, I was infuriated by her perfidy. Especially since she had not even hinted to me any of this angle. It was totally and completely a concoction for her friends to smear me and thereby portray herself as a poor mother who has made a few mistakes and was therefore having to endure the heartbreak of watching a dear child decompensate mentally and emotionally.
All this vandalism was done with the soft tones of a broken-hearted mother. I'm sure her audiences pitied her grief on my behalf. I'm also sure they tried to hearten her with their deprecations of my ungrateful treatment of her.
I'm still disgusted with her for this. So underhanded. So utterly false. And it was a lie. She knew it was a lie. Yet again, in yet another way, she sacrificed one of her children on the altar of her self-worship. The child must die so the mother can live.
The slander and gossip can be done in such a way that it looks like the narcissist is filled with compassion for you. But like Kathy said, "However subtle the vandalism may be, you never hear a narcissist say anything about anyone that you would like to hear said about you."
There is a nasty tendency among all humanity to enjoy hearing nasty crap told about someone else. This gives the narcissists a real edge in life. Too often their hearers credit their slander and gossip with being truthful. If you don't already, rein in your credulity when confronted with some subtle or overt assault on another person's character. Change your knee-jerk response from looking askance at the person being gossiped about to looking askance at the person in front of you saying things that ding another person's character. Unless, like Kathy says, "it is done in true witness -- that is, responsible witness, on the record, not behind the back."
It occurs to me that some may accuse me of doing this very thing to my mother on my blog. I don't show my real name in order to hide the real names of my family, and my mother doesn't know of the existence of this blog. Doesn't that make me into the one who is slandering her behind her back? To that I simply say that I've put it all on the record with my mother. I have the paperwork to prove it. I've said nothing here that I haven't already dealt with her on. I'm on the record with my mother, father and sister. Names are changed here to protect the guilty, not the innocent. There is nothing here on this blog that I would be ashamed to have any of them read. I know it's the truth and so would they.
It is the restraining influence of my husband that has prevented me from sending them links to these pages. A very large part of me would love for them to read every word here. I agree with my husband, though, that it would be better that they found it on their own because otherwise they would accuse me of being unnecessarily unkind by forcing the knowledge that this blog exists onto them. It would support their accusations that I was doing this out of vindictiveness toward them. And since that is in no way true I will not do something to help them support that kind of accusation. I am motivated by compassion not revenge. Compassion for the victims of narcissism...not misplaced compassion for the narcissists nor some petty revenge. There are much better ways to get revenge than this if I was so inclined.
There are other good points Kathy has made in this section that I haven't commented or elaborated on. Ya'll can do that yourselves in the comments section.