Why People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder May Play the Victim

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It may be hard to imagine someone with a narcissistic personality disorder or NPD as the victim. After all, a person with NPD is generally considered someone with a superior sense of self and constantly shows their need for power. So, how is it that someone with NPD can play the role of the victim?

Is it something that is intentional, perhaps in an attempt to manipulate others? Or do they genuinely think they are the victim?

NPD is a complex personality disorder and mental health condition. From that, you can already say that what they’re manifesting is never a personal choice or decision. If you or someone you love is getting in-person or online counselling for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and you think playing the victim is a surfacing concern, read on as Chettiar Counselling & Associates shares some information on the topic:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and How the Victim Mentality Relates to It

Research from 2003 shows that people with narcissism may see themselves as the victims of transgressions more than people without the disorder. This research is reflected by the qualitative study performed in 2020 wherein relatives of NPD reported that they often see this in their loved ones.

Whether they feel like a victim or play the “victim card” to manipulate others is not clear. But one thing is clear – people with NPD lack self-awareness and self-reflection, meaning they don’t really “see” what they are doing, no matter how often you point it out to them.

This is the reason they say they feel “attacked” when someone contradicts them or calls out their wrong actions.

That said, a few reasons the victim role may be associated with NPD is because of these symptoms of the disorder:

·  Denial

·  Delusions of grandeur

·  Need for control

·  Low empathy

·  Narcissistic rage

·  Projection

·  Sense of entitlement

How Defense Mechanisms Play a Part

Everyone uses specific defence mechanisms in varying circumstances and for different reasons. It’s unlikely that you are aware when you’re using a defence mechanism, but there is a purpose for it.

Usually, it protects people from recalling painful experiences, while at other times, they help you cope with threats to your sense of self, integrity, or even safety. Some people with NPD’s defence mechanism are their delusions of grandeur wherein they have false beliefs about themselves, so they feel however they believe they deserve to feel. But sometimes, it’s not always to see themselves in a heroic position but that of, well, a victim.

Their low empathy may also play a part as this could lead a person to use manipulation tactics, including playing the victim to get what they want. The narcissistic rage may come in different ways – others can treat people around them in a vindictive way while some play the victim.


There are many reasons why anyone could play the victim, and some of those may apply to people with NPD. That said, people with narcissistic personality disorder tend to play the victim more than others do. It may stem from their low self-esteem and low empathy or even be a defence mechanism. Whatever the reason may be, remember that NPD is a mental health condition and one that needs understanding. Of course, it will help to get yourself or your loved ones online counselling (if in-person counselling is not an option).

Chettiar Counselling & Associates offers counselling services in Cambridge, Ontario, and nearby areas. Contact us today if you or a loved one needs support for mental health concerns, including NPD, anxiety, depression, addiction, and others. Contact us today to know more about our services!