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Narcissists know everything. They know something about everything and everything about something. And there’s simply nothing they know nothing about. They are never wrong and you’d better not forget it.

Once again, the unbridled ego of the true narcissist shines through in all its questionable glory. Most of us are truly baffled when we first encounter this persistent narcissistic trait. The statements that issue from the mouths (and pens) of narcissists are uttered with such complete confidence that we automatically question our own knowledge-base and experience. We doubt our own intellect. The average person is usually willing to consider new points of view and to modify their own attitudes in the face of new information.  So, we give people the benefit of the doubt and wait patiently for an intelligent discussion about the topic at hand.

When a narcissist presents this new ‘information’, however, they present it without a shred of evidence, but rather, with sweeping statements about their own expertise in the area. They just ‘know’. Yes, they’re quite ‘certain about it’. No, we needn’t worry about this possibility or that nuance because the narcissist has got it covered. He’s thought it all through already and we needn’t worry our pretty little heads about such things. He worked in the industry for years and is quite simply, an expert. We don’t know his background, of course. We’re simply expected to take his word, just as we were expected to take his word on other topics, like environmental concerns, tree-felling, child-rearing, Asian culture, Buddhism, photography, running of corporations, how to fix just about everything, engineering, medical procedures, the cosmos, origins of the universe, true spirituality and the God particle.

My art, my face when listening to a narcissistic know it all

My face in the company of a narcissistic know-it-all. Original artwork by me.

‘I’ve built roads before. I know all about their construction and the materials used. So, let me take charge of the project and elect me as chairman of the committee and I’ll get things done!’

And that’s the crux of it. They want you to hand over your power and self-efficacy – to them. They feed off it. And so, they manipulate your trust, goad you with smiles and promises, and dazzle you with their (generally fictitious and at least, highly exaggerated) ‘expert’ backgrounds.

(At this point the flying monkeys will be nodding their heads seriously and expressing their extreme gratitude for the aptitude and competence of the speaker, relieved to leave everything in his or her hands. It’s truly a wonder to behold – and we’ll take an in-depth look at the ‘Flying Monkey Phenomenon’ in my next post.)

Confidence is an attractive trait and it’s not surprising people are drawn to more confident people. As with all traits, a narcissist takes this one too far, however. It’s not a characteristic they truly embody but is part of their mask, their persona. They put it on like a superhero’s cape and when they flourish it, some of us tend to swoon. We’re caught in the web of deceit by a mere confidence trick.

It’s important to keep a rational head in the face of this particular dilemma. It’s tempting just to go along with the schemes presented and take the speaker at his word. It saves us doing some thinking and investigating for ourselves and it also saves us from the uncomfortable proposition of having to confront the speaker with his or her ‘error’. Hell hath no fury like a narcissist outed!

It’s not easy – and I would argue, often impossible – to hold on to your intellectual rigour when you’re closely involved with a covert narcissist, one who specializes in psychological and emotional abuse. You will already be suffering the psychological and emotional consequences of their relentless gaslighting. If you’re deep in a relationship with such a person and are currently reading these words, I don’t advise you to start confronting them with the truth – that they are wrong; they are mistaken; they are misinformed; and will cause problems if allowed to hold sway and forge ahead with their plans.

I suggest it would be safer for you to note my words and begin to regain control of your own inner truth. It will give you strength and allow you to begin believing in yourself and your own reality once more. Now is not the time to make quick decisions but perhaps to begin formulating the best way forward for yourself. Control of your own mind is one of the most important steps you can take at this time.

Don’t be persuaded by superficial or emotional argument. If he says the road-base supplied by the contractor contains deadly silica dust and can cause silicosis (which is a modern version of asbestosis), look it up! Is he correct? In the instance I’m recalling, he most definitely was not. Despite that, he managed to insult the contractor, abuse (using filthy language) the good-hearted person who’d hired the contractor, cause chaos and hysteria among the people who believed in his expertise and whom he’d worked up to a frenzy – and then, he sat back to thoroughly enjoy the circus. He actually laughed at others’ distress in the face of his abuse and manipulation.

In this example, I was not close to the perpetrator. It was relatively easy for me to take an objective stance, check the facts and call him out on it. I still suffered the inevitable consequences of social rejection and ostracization by himself and his flying monkeys, and the character assassination that ensued behind my back, but his opinion of me was of no consequence. In times past, I’ve not had that privilege.

I’ve been married to a similar personality. I was never allowed to challenge his ‘expertise’, his ‘superior’ opinions and his self-proclaimed competence in virtually every area of life. What I did note, however, was his jealousy – his covetousness. He couldn’t bear for me to know things he didn’t know or for me to handle certain situations better than he did. He took my strengths and undermined them so that he could convince me they were weaknesses and prove to himself, and others, how much better than me he was. That is not the action of one who loves. It is the action of one who seeks to destroy. It is hateful and poisonous. One of the most effective methods he used was to boldly claim his superiority, his rightness…about everything…and to do so publicly and loudly. It was humiliating. It was meant to be humiliating.

It is in some ways very difficult to break the indicators of narcissistic abuse into neat categories because they are all intricately linked. It’s not possible to grasp the full psychological and emotional impact of each indicator without considering the impact of all the others. They work together to undermine the psyche, to destroy self-esteem, self-worth, self-belief and cruelly, to destroy your very sanity.

Yet, there is still something to be gained from spelling out each diabolical trait. If there is someone close to you who is always right and will not brook argument; who always knows what needs to be done and will not be thwarted without retaliating with severe verbal, emotional and psychological abuse; who consistently places himself in the position of ‘expert’; who sweeps aside your questions and concerns; who will not listen to your alternative views…beware! This is an extremely serious indicator that you may be in the clutches of a narcissistic abuser.

If his ‘flying monkeys’ join the fray and attack you en masse with their vicious backlash, it’s time to exit with dignity.

My next post will address those foolish, blinded, flying monkeys. They’re chosen for a reason and are always to be found in the entourage of narcissistic abusers.