Cerebral narcissists take great pride in their intellect and are often extremely intelligent and convincing. What makes them different from an intelligent person who enjoys a good discussion or who enjoys teaching others is that a cerebral narcissist leverages their intelligence to win. They often proclaim that they are logical and reasonable even though their opinions and arguments are usually anything but rational. Because they often come across with such great conviction, they can say the most outlandish, hateful, or dangerous things and spin it in such a way that they come across as balanced and fair.
They are usually incredibly persuasive, intelligent, quick-witted, and able to shift between logic, logical fallacies, lies, name-calling, and anger to knock their opponent off-balance and make their point. They often have advanced degrees or high levels of success or claim so. Those who see through them come across as pretentious, grandiose, and exhausting. They rarely like to associate with anyone below their (perceived or even fabricated) intellect, educational, or financial level. When they do so, it’s generally to engage them in some argument so that they can win.
What can be so crazy-making is these narcissists continually shift their argument. They use a series of logical fallacies, reductionist arguments, lies, half-truths, word salad, and semantic ploys to frustrate the other person until that person becomes exhausted or explodes in anger. At this point, the narcissist will declare that the other person is too unreasonable, illogical, or overly emotional. It’s like the saying goes, arguing with a narcissist is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are, the pigeon will knock over all the pieces, poop on the board, and act victorious.
Example of a Cerebral Narcissist
Doug considers himself a genius, comparing himself to the character Sheldon on the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. He often talks about how lonely it is for him not to find friends or girlfriends who are on par with his intellect. He doesn’t often date, and when he does, the relationships start to crumble as soon as his girlfriends begin to challenge him or assert their own opinions. Whenever this happens, Doug begins yelling, belittling them, or he gives them the silent treatment. The same pattern has happened with his friends. Many of his former friends’ wives refuse to have Doug around as he would continually try to bait them into arguments about their parenting or their role as a wife or mother. Doug’s idea of having a conversation is forcing his opinion on others by being what he calls “brutally honest.” Then making it seem as though they had the issue when they got offended by his uninvited sexist, racist, and otherwise offensive “honesty.” Doug believes his views are all based on logic and reason. Anyone who doesn’t feel the same is either too emotional or too stupid to see the truth. The real truth is that Doug is a legend in his mind.