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Narcissists crave attention and get it at all costs

by Lori Hoeck on January 31, 2010

Narci-BlahBlahBlahWhen Betsy Wuebker and I started writing The Narcissist: A User’s Guide, I started sensing a more defined pattern to the dramatic, crazy-making, and convoluted ways of narcissists. (For a list of 100 narcissistic traits go here.)

For example, narcissists crave people watching them, wanting them, and being wow’ed  by them. They love to have direct, ego-strokes pump them up. If they can stick an metaphoric intravenous needle in their arm and draw their narcissistic supply from admiring underlings, grateful colleagues, or an article about them in the newspaper, they will.

If they can’t, oooh, look out.

Let’s say for example,  a narcissist presents a plan to a group. But then, one person deftly finds all the holes in the plan and points them out. The rest all concur.

Since no direct, positive attention is feeding the narcissist in this situation where he expected it, he must create other attention. Stirring the pot, creating division, sabotaging others are just a few options. So is attacking the messenger, emotional plea bargaining, and illogical arguments.

Here are a few ploys narcissists use:

At least I’ve put some thought into this problem and presented a plan. How about the rest of you?

Well if Bill here hadn’t screwed up a week ago, we’d never be talking about this now.

Sob Story
Look, you all know how important this plan is to me. When my daddy was on his death bed and I was taking care of him every day after school, he told me, ‘Son, don’t let a few drawbacks every hold you back.’ To this day, I like to honor that man’s courage. I owe it to him to stay committed to this plan.

Whine & Weasel
I can’t believe you all would gang up on me like this! After all I’ve done for you? Last year, didn’t I go to the big boss and get us all a penny raise, didn’t I? You bet I did…

Play Martyr
OK. OK. I see how it is. You all just want to gang up on me. I get it. You can’t come up with a better answer, so I get bashed for trying to offer solutions.

Now look here, I’ve worked my butt off developing this plan. How do you think I feel having it shot down like some mangy dog? You (pointing at someone) say it doesn’t use Twitter and social media. Who cares? My grandmother doesn’t tweet and neither does yours. You (pointing elsewhere) dismiss my numbers, but this is still in the planning stage — it’s not like it rolls out tomorrow…

One Upsmanship
I’ve always worked my butt off for this company. When I was first started here, I spent 72 hours straight working to get us over the public relations nightmare we had with the workers’ strike . I’ve always gone above and beyond. So don’t tell me this plan won’t work. We are going to make it work.


I’ve heard all of these before and once in the same conversation, with the verbal attacks coming at me like killer bees. At the time, I wasn’t armed with a countering, verbal bug zapper. Betsy and I hope our ebook, The Narcissist: A User’s Guide and articles like this one better arm you against the narcissist’s verbal onslaughts.


For more information on narcissists and articles about the ebook:

Sith Lords in the Real World

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Laying the Keel

Nobody Does It Better: Sirius Ebooks

Thank you for visiting and learning more about self defense.
If you think others can benefit, please pass it on!

Lori Hoeck

Photo: Phil Whitehouse


1 Davina February 1, 2010 at 1:51 am

It really sounds like narcissists like to go against the grain all the time. They’ll argue black is white just to be different or to cause conflict. This need for attention is identical to that of a child who’s been deprived of it and I can see how narcissists learn to be the way they are. A part of them has never grown up.

2 Hilary February 1, 2010 at 4:42 am

Hi Lori .. thanks for that .. I expect very sadly there’s a lot of that going on today, with so much unemployment and so many people desperate to hold on to their jobs. I think Nadia of Happy Lotus said it so well .. that she was always very upset and surprised that her workmates were shocked she was able to be comfortable in her own skin .. if we could all be like that, it would help us get past these controlling people and ignore their ways and means.

I’m looking forward to being able to access your ebook .. good for you and Betsy to have written it and collaborated together .. interesting week ahead for you both ..

3 Lori Hoeck February 2, 2010 at 4:19 am

Hi Davina,
Actually not all the time, otherwise they’d be more easily spotted. The downside to writing about them in a blog post is that it’s hard to capture them in 450 words. The traits I mention here are probably only 1/25 of the techniques they use to operate.

Hi Hilary,
Yes, the power of being comfortable in your own skin can never be estimated.

Thank you for your support and encouragement!

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