Narcissist's Grievances vs. Real Victim's Complaints

Uploaded 5/2/2024, approx. 8 minute read

Narcissists, both overt and covert, often present themselves as victims.

They complain.

They describe their life as having been abducted by abusers.

They say that they have been mistreated or maltreated, that they have been discriminated against, victims of injustice and so on and so forth.

How to tell the difference between a narcissist who claims to be a victim and a true victim, someone who has been victimized, ironically, often by a narcissist.

This is the topic of today's video.

My name is Sam Bakhnin.

I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently a professor of psychology and management studies in CEAPs.


Victims have grievances.

A grievance is simply the encapsulation of an episode or an event or a relationship where people have been maltreated, mistreated, abused, exploited, taken advantage of, hurt, intentionally or unintentionally.

This constitutes a state of victimhood.

Victims are victimized or have been victimized.

There's no question about this, but victimhood should not become an identity.

In the case of the narcissists, victimhood is an identity.

But there is another distinguishing factor, a simple test you can apply in order to decide whether someone who complains of having been victimized is a narcissist or a true victim.

The narcissist's victimhood grievances have to do with appearances.

The narcissist would complain of a damaged reputation.

Days of her deteriorating looks, health, time wasted, money lost, a declining status mourned past and lost positions.

Narcissists, in other words, would focus on alleged or ostensible damages to the way he appears to other people.

Narcissists mourns and grieves the change in his status, the change in his reputation, the change in his appearance, the change in his wealth, the change in his positions.

Narcissists mourn change, but not change that has to do with anything internal, anything psychological, anything mental, anything innate, anything essential.

No, no way.

Narcissists don't do substance.

Narcissists do impression management.

Narcissists do appearances.

Narcissists do acting.

Narcissists do theater productions.

Narcissists do narratives.

Narcissists are empty inside.

There's nobody there.

There's no core.

There's no identity.

There's no memory or continuous memory, autobiographical memory.

So the narcissist doesn't exist in any meaningful sense of the word.

A narcissist is a shimmering sleight of hand, an apparition, a set of impressions put together in order to manipulate people or generate an opinion.

So, narcissists, when they complain about having been victimized, they don't talk about themselves.

They talk about what they used to have, what they used to possess, the services they used to obtain, their status, their relative positioning, their reputation, their wealth, things they used to own.

They would complain about externalities, not about anything internal.

And that sets apart the narcissist from a real victim, especially a victim of narcissistic abuse because a real victim's grievances have to do with essence, with substance, with the inner landscape, with internal processes, with psychology, with the mind.

A real victim is inward oriented.

The narcissist is public facing and outward oriented.

So a real victim would complain about things the narcissist would never complain about.

A real victim would complain about hurt and frustrated emotions, about negative effects, all kinds of feelings, bad feelings aroused by the experience of having been victimized, about a shattered, ruined inner peace and peace of mind, about an absent sense of safety in a world that suddenly looks hostile or random, about the inability to trust again or to date or to have a relationship, about the loss of personal identity as if the victim's identity has been hijacked, taken over and supplanted by the abuser's identity, about broken dreams and promises and hopes.

These are the complaints of a real victim.

The real victim complains about what has happened to her or him, what has happened to her or him, to her self, the self, this core identity, this sacred ground of being who you are.

That's a thrust of the grievances and complaints of real victims.

While the narcissist complains about replaceable things, interchangeable things, commodities, commodified things, you know, owning something, you can lose it and own it again.

Your status can be regained.

Your money, money you have lost can be reacquired.

All these things are, they have substitutes.

What the real victim has lost is no replacement and no substitute.

What the narcissist claims to have lost, what he complains about, these are all appearances, external, superficial.

Narcissist complaints are superficial.

The real victim's complaints are essential.

The narcissist grievances are about past glory, past glory lost and the reattainment of an exalted, elevated position.

Narcissistic elation, narcissistic supply, things coming from the outside, not from the inside of the narcissist.

The narcissist doesn't have an inside.

The grievances and complaints of the victim are about herself.

What she has lost in terms of being who she is or who she was, things that are irreplaceable because the damage is all pervasive and extensive and requires a lot of work, anywhere from hurt emotions to trust, inner peace to broken dreams.

These are not things easily replaced.

They can never be replaced actually.

They're sealed in a container of pain and shame that is just there forever.

The narcissist's only period of true victimhood has been in early childhood when the narcissist was still not a narcissist, but a child, not corrupted by the false self, a child subject to abuse and trauma, a child subject to mistreatment and a breach of boundaries, a child used and exploited by a parent who was dead metaphorically.

It was the only period of true victimhood in the narcissist's life.

But then the narcissist decided to suspend himself or herself to become a false self, thereby destroying or suppressing the true self to the point of vanishing.

The narcissist chose absence over existence and having chosen absence, the narcissist's entire life is exteriorized.

The entire life of a narcissist is external, coming from the outside.

The narcissist's mind is populated with internal objects, but the narcissist's energy comes from the outside.

The victim's life, the real victim's life has always been internal.

A real victim has had a rich internal life.

All kinds of emotions, cognitions and effects and beliefs and values, memories.

Narcissist doesn't have any of this.

So of course, the locus of loss, the main loss of the real victim is her insight, while the main loss of the narcissist is the outside.

And that's the big difference between the narcissist's grievances, his pathetic whining about being a victim, always a victim, an eternal victim.

He never does anything wrong.

He has never misbehaved.

He has never engaged in activities or actions that were immoral or unethical or even criminal.

He has never breached any boundaries.

He has never violated any morals, any rules of conduct, any unspoken agreements with others.

He has never done anything.

He doesn't deserve what's happening to him.

He's pure, he's a driven snow, he's angelic.

And a real victim is much more nuanced, shade of gray.

She realizes that victimhood or having been victimized is an interplay between the abuser and herself, and she tries to restore her inner core.

While the narcissist goes about restoring the outer signs and the outer emblems of his past life, the victim's goes about trying to restore her very self.

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