Narcissists are Shameful but Shameless

Shame is an uncomfortable emotion most of us experience. When we are shamed, we feel like we want to disappear, to become invisible. Shame is an intolerable feeling. We are humiliated and feel very small, even non-existent. Children who have been shamed by their parent (s) often carry these feelings into adulthood. Deeply ingrained shame can lead to a sense of inadequacy, unworthiness and not having a solid resilient sense of self.

The narcissistic personality is the opposite. He or she can commit the cruelest acts and say the meanest words to another with the intention of hurting them and feel absolutely no shame or guilt as a result. A narcissist can watch the withering blows that his raging has on his victim and not even blink. He views this person as weak and insignificant, someone who is worthless. Narcissists have no sense of limits. They lead their lives without the borders of decency, compassion or conscience. Their speed on life’s highway is always full throttle even when their malicious and careless behaviors psychological, financially and emotionally harm the lives of others, even their own families. Narcissists go to any lengths to get what they want. If a sibling is in the way of their collecting on a parent’s will, they will make sure that they become very cozy with their elderly relative, spread convincing lies about the brother or sister and successfully pressure the aging parent to let them take charge of all of their financial matters. This happens all the time.

Male and female narcissists are particularly shameful when it comes to personal, intimate relationships, including marriage. To most narcissists, marriage is not a true union—it is a one sided business deal. Narcissists write their own marriage vows–“I will do what works for me. When you (my spouse) no longer fulfill my needs or desires or my narcissistic supplies, I will discard you without notice.” This is the unstated but true marriage deal that one makes with a narcissist. Even if a marriage lasts for several decades you can be sure that the narcissistic partner is doing a lot of “sexual free-lancing” on the side. Narcissists are highly skilled at juggling women. If the narcissistic partner is exposed, he tells an easy lie and moves on.

Narcissists are not good parents. They are too self absorbed, greedy and self entitled to give their attention and care to a small child. They will make sure that the family photos are seen by all of those who count. This is part of their elaborate image that must be perpetuated. They are not hands on parents. Children of narcissistic parents often speak of how they were abandoned, forgotten or never remembered. Mother or father was too busy working and having a good time to be with kids. Some narcissistic parents buy their kids off, offering them gifts rather than affection, attention or empathy. The narcissistic parent believes that he is a good human being and has done everything possible for his children. Narcissistic mothers and fathers will choose one child who is a standout–pretty, handsome, very bright, talented–to be the perfect reflection of themselves. They mold this child in their likeness and believe that he or she can do no wrong and is superior to the other children. Unfortunately, some of these children become narcissists who grow up to be shameful and shameless, cruel and duplicitous like their parent (s).

Become knowledgeable about the narcissistic personality. Appreciate who you are as an individual, draw clear psychological boundaries and use your special gifts. To learn about the narcissistic personality in-depth, visit my

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
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