The question of “Does a Narcissist Know What They Are Doing?” is probably one of the top three questions a victim has after they’ve experienced the emotional fallout and devastation from a Narcissist, and understandably so. After all, a Narcissist’s behavior is so shocking, so jaw-dropping, so callous, so radically different than anything the victim has ever experienced, that they struggle to make sense of it. I get it. I was once there myself.
But, I cringe when I hear others ask this question, because what victims often times really want to know is if they should hold the Narcissist accountable for their behavior, or if their behavior has more to do with they acting out based on some sort of trauma from their childhood.
There are all kinds of theories out there–the main one is that Narcissists are so ego driven due to some early trauma that led to a malformed sense of self that they are continually needing to feed this void in their life. Now most victims when they hear that, they take pity on the Narcissist. They want to reach out to that wounded child and help them. That maybe if they just give that wounded child enough love and affection that the crazy beahvior will stop. I get that too, and again, I was once there myself. It’s hard for decent people to give up on wanting to help someone who is obviously so damaged. But you have to. You really, really have to. They will take your pity for them coupled with your hope that things will change, and they will use it against you to consume and destroy your life. That may sound harsh, but ask anyone who’s had a Narcissist in their life for any length of time and they’ll agree.
In my personal experience, I think Narcissists know exactly what they are doing, and worst of all, that they take great satisfication in doing it! It’s all a big game to them to see how much they can get away with. After all, if they didn’t know their behavior was wrong, they wouldn’t hide it from others. They wouldn’t turn it on and off like they do.
However the real answer is no one really knows for sure if the Narcissists knows what they are doing, or if they are so preoccupied by trying to feed their own ego that they are blinded by their behavior.
Now while mental health professionals don’t know for sure if Narcissists know what they are doing, the vast majority can agree on one thing: Narcissists do not change. They do not get better, and medication and therapy do not help. They are the most destructive people out there, and the only way to limit their destruction is to cut them out of your life, and go as “No Contact” as possible.
Now if you come across a therapist that claims they have a success record with curing Narcissists (and there are some out there) do yourself the favor and fire that therapist. Again, I know that sounds harsh, arrogant even, after all, who am I to say what a great therapist can and can’t do? But again, anyone who’s ever had a Narcissist in their life for any length of time will agree with me on this point: Narcissists are wickedly clever, cunning and conniving. They are able to trick their victims and therapists (and often times judges, police, their own parents, children and any other number of people) into believing that they are working on changing, or even that you are the problem and that they are the victim(!)
Let me reassure you, they are not the victim, you are not crazy, their behavior is not your fault or the fault of everyone else or their substance use. You must give up the lie that you are telling yourself, or that they are telling you, and that lie is that their behavior is somehow not their fault, out of their control, and fixable. They will blame their behavior on their alcoholism, drug abuse, childhood trauma, your actions, the kids’ actions, problems at work or sunspots. And they willhave you believing that if they got more therapy, got into rehab, found God, spent more (or less) time with you and/or the kids,that their behavior will change. They will not change, because they don’t care enough too. They don’t care about your pain and suffering, or the pain and suffering that they are putting their children through. They will never see the error of their ways. They will never be accoutable for their behavior. They will never, ever, ever change. If anything they are just working on hiding their bad behavior better.
So please, I beg of you, value yourself enough to answer the question of “Does a Narcissist Know What They Are Doing?” With the answer, “Who the hell cares. What matters is they are doing this destructive behavior. They will never change, and I’m the one paying the price.”
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
Latest posts by Dana (see all)
- Episode 55: How Do I Stop My Addiction to the Narcissist? - August 23, 2017
- Episode 53: Strategies to Help Prevent Your Child from Being Manipulated by a Narcissistic Parent - August 21, 2017
- Episode 54: How can we handle victim blaming and revictimization? - August 18, 2017