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😭😇😲 Maybe you’re tired of watching a narcissist walk all over people. Maybe you’re fed up with a narcissist’s lies and want to put an end to it. Whatever your motivation is, exposing a narcissist for what they are can show people what’s really going on and help you restore order in your family or social circle. While exposing a malignant narcissist may seem like a daunting task, it’s a lot easier than it may seem if you take a tactful, thoughtful approach and avoid letting them take charge. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about exposing a malignant narcissist for what they are.

Section 1 of 5:
How do you know someone is a malignant narcissist?

  1. 1
    A malignant narcissist has an inflated sense of self. Malignant narcissism is a subclass of narcissistic personality disorder—a personality disorder where you have an inflated sense of self-worth. Every narcissist thinks the world revolves around them, and malignant narcissists are no different.[1]
    • Narcissists tend to believe they’re the most important person in the room, and they’ll become upset if they aren’t given attention or special treatment.
    • While many people consider the feelings of others when fostering relationships, narcissists tend to care way more about how they feel than other people.
  2. 2
    Malignant narcissists are unusually cruel, uncaring, and vindictive. Is this person genuinely apathetic? Are they aggressive? Do they snap at people or belittle them for minor mistakes? If so, they’re likely malignant narcissist. They may not be physically violent, but they’ll usually be verbally and emotionally abusive.[2]
    • Many malignant narcissists rely on gaslighting, a technique where you convince someone that their perception of reality isn’t accurate, to get what they want.[3]
    • Often, malignant narcissists are sadists. A sadist is someone who gets pleasure out of hurting or humiliating other people.
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  3. 3
    Most malignant narcissists are paranoid, which is a unique indicator. There are other kinds of narcissism, but none of them (outside of the malignant narcissist) tend towards paranoia. A malignant narcissist may think people are scheming against them, or presume there’s a conspiracy when things don’t go their way.[4] The other kinds of narcissism include:
    • Overt. Overt narcissists are outgoing, but extremely arrogant and entitled. These narcissists tend to feel good about themselves.
    • Covert. These narcissists have a poor self-image, and don’t outwardly act like they’re great. Covert narcissists love to play the victim.
    • Antagonistic. Antagonistic narcissists are arrogant and prone to argue with others. They hold grudges and enjoy fighting.
    • Communal. These narcissists find fulfillment from others and often use moral superiority and concern for social issues to get praise from others.
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Section 2 of 5:
How can you expose a malignant narcissist?

  1. 1
    Draw attention to a narcissist’s contradictions to expose them. Malignant narcissists will share incompatible ideas and statements as it suits them. Whenever you spot an inconsistency, nicely comment on it in a roundabout way without being combative. The narcissist may walk it back and acknowledge they’re lying, or dig even deeper. In either case, you’re chipping away at their façade.[5] For example:
    • Narcissist: "I’m so tired of Melissa. She’s always complaining about everything."
      You: "That’s kind of funny, you’re complaining right now."
    • Narcissist: "I can’t believe there’s a $10 cover for the party."
      You: "Oh, I thought you were crushing it at work! You just got a raise right? It shouldn’t be a big deal, right?"
    • Narcissist: "I can’t stand sloppy people."
      You: "You have a mustard stain on your shirt."
  2. 2
    Force a narcissist to expose themselves by catching them in a lie. If you can push the narcissist to keep contradicting themselves, you may be able to force them into a corner where they either outright lie, or they back down. In either scenario, the narcissist will be squirming to hold on to their sense of self in front of others. If you’re lucky, someone else may even call them out for you.[6]
    • For example, if you know a narcissist just got dumped and they’re bragging about how easy it is for them to get dates, you might say, "You’re doing well in the dating game? You land any hot dates lately?"
      • If they double-down and say, "Oh, totally, I’ve been seeing this hot guy/girl for a while now," double-down yourself. Say, "Really? What’s their name? I thought you were dating that ex of yours until last week?"
      • If they back off and say something like, "Uh, no, but I could if I wanted to," you might say, "Yeah, I’m sure you’ll find someone soon!"
  3. 3
    Validate the people narcissists put down to show others the truth. A malignant narcissist will jump at the opportunity to victim-blame or beat people when they’re down. Reaffirm the people they pick on to show other folks that the narcissist isn’t the vicious truth teller they make themselves out to be. This is especially important if the narcissist is a leader in your social circle, since building others up will undermine their authority.[7]
    • For example, if a narcissist mocks a mutual friend for doing poorly on a test, you might tell your mutual friend, "I wouldn’t sweat it. Everyone did poorly on that exam—including me."
    • If a narcissist puts someone down for the way they look, you could tell the target of their mockery, "Oh, don’t listen to them. I really like your new haircut. I think it suits your face."
  4. 4
    Take a narcissist out of their comfort zone to keep them off-kilter. If a malignant narcissist always invites people to their place, host the party at your home for once. If they always suggest going to the corner bar for cheap eats, get everyone hyped about fine dining this weekend. The more control you exercise, the more likely a narcissist will be to spin out of control and expose themselves.
    • This goes for little stuff, too! If they hate country music, maybe you throw on some Willie Nelson next time you’re in the car together. If they hate the cold, suggest skiing for your next family reunion.
  5. 5
    Stand up for yourself when they cross a line to draw an overreaction. If the narcissist says or does something outwardly abusive, rude, or cruel, don’t let them get away with it—especially in front of others. Calmly call them out and explain why they’re not being fair. Don’t mince your words, but stay cool. All of their bombastic posturing and aggression will speak for itself.[8]
    • For example, if they try to belittle somebody for making a mistake, you might say, "Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not your place to remind them, don’t be a jerk."
  6. 6
    Keep thriving and growing to drive a malignant narcissist to explode. Nothing drives a narcissist up the wall like seeing other people succeed. Focus on yourself, grow your relationships with others, and find your inner peace. Celebrate your accomplishments with your friends and family members when the narcissist is around; the narcissist may just blow their cover trying to put you down.[9]
    • For example, when a friend or family member asks how you’re doing in front of a narcissist, you might say, "I’m great! I actually just finished my finals—I got an A in chemistry!"
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Section 3 of 5:
What happens when you expose a malignant narcissist?

  1. 1
    An exposed narcissist will lash out at you, so stay cool to maintain control. As you chip away at a malignant narcissist’s status and truthfulness, they’re going to fill with wrathful energy. If they shout or lash out at you in a totally unwarranted way, let them. Brush it off or "console" them to really take the upper hand. This will allow other people to see how childish they are.[10]
    • For example, if they snap at you and shout, you might say, "Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you so badly. Are you okay?"
    • This is where it’s often a good idea to shoot onlookers a slightly raised eyebrow and shocked look to really emphasize how much they’re overreacting.
  2. 2
    Be prepared for an exposed narcissist to try turning others against you. Once they’re exposed, a malignant narcissist will do everything in their power to tear you down when you aren’t looking. They may lie about you, gossip, or spread rumors to change the social tides against you. Just remember, all of this only working against them in the long run, so don’t get too down.[11]
    • Your best option is to usually dismiss any false accusations without giving them too much attention. If you make it a big deal and you get defensive, the narcissist gets what they want.
    • In an elegant way, this can be a good thing. All of that childish behavior will just reinforce the fact that they’re insecure and dishonest to others.
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Section 4 of 5:
How can you manage a malignant narcissist?

  1. 1
    Set clear and concrete boundaries to keep a narcissist in line. Boundary-setting is key when it comes to dealing with a narcissist and keeping their crazy behavior in check. Determine what you will and will not put up with. Then, tell the narcissist where your setting the boundary. This will dramatically improve your quality of life when they’re around. This is how you set a boundary:
    • Draw the line. You might say, "You cannot put me down in front of other people."
    • Explain the consequence. You could tell them, "If you do put me down, I’m not going to invite you over anymore."
    • Refuse to negotiate. The narcissist will try to argue or fight back, so just say, "It’s not up for discussion. This is not negotiable."
    • Enforce the boundary. If they cross the line, it’s likely that they’re testing you. Do not let up. Do not cut them a break. Put your foot down and enforce the consequence.
  2. 2
    Enlist the help of friends and family to build a coalition. Malignant narcissists need praise and attention from others, so pulling other people into your corner can go a long way towards keeping a narcissist from trampling over everybody. If you have mutual friends who you know are also fed up with the narcissist, pull them aside and tell them you’re going to stand up to the narcissist. This way, you’ll have backup when you push back against the narcissist.
    • You might tell a close friend, "Look, Jimmy has been really rude to us recently. It bothers me, and I know it bothers you. I’m going to call them out next time they do this, I just wanted to give you a heads up to see where you’re at."
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Section 5 of 5:
How do you heal from a malignant narcissist?

  1. 1
    Go no-contact to create some space to heal. Block their number, remove them from your social media, and don’t interact with them. This will give you space to heal, and it will keep the narcissist from continuing to wreak havoc on your life. Don’t blame yourself, and don’t go back on your decision. You’ll be better off in the long run.
    • This can be especially tough if the malignant narcissist is a close family member, you have tons of mutual friends, or you work with them.
    • If you can’t cut them off entirely, at least minimize how much time you spend interacting with them.
  2. 2
    Reach out for professional help if you’ve suffered from abuse. Narcissistic abuse can take a serious emotional toll, and seeking professional help can dramatically improve the recovery process. Find a psychologist, therapist, or counselor near you and reach out to them. They’ll give you the tools and space you need to begin healing.
    • You can find a qualified, affordable therapist near you by searching online at BetterHelp.
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      About This Article

      Co-authored by:
      Licensed Psychologist
      This article was co-authored by Liana Georgoulis, PsyD and by wikiHow staff writer, Eric McClure. Dr. Liana Georgoulis is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience, and is now the Clinical Director at Coast Psychological Services in Los Angeles, California. She received her Doctor of Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2009. Her practice provides cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based therapies for adolescents, adults, and couples. This article has been viewed 2,312 times.
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      Co-authors: 6
      Updated: May 9, 2022
      Views: 2,312
      Categories: Social Interactions
      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 2,312 times.
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