Why Do Narcissists Always Play The Victim? (And How To Protect Yourself)

Last Update on February 16, 2023 : Published on November 2, 2022

Many things in life can feel unfair and restrained but nothing screams unfair like being a victim. Agreed? Have you ever felt like your actions have victimized others? Or that you played a victim because you were unable to express your emotional needs correctly?

This could be true for many, especially someone with a narcissistic personality disorder. I know it can be hard to think of a narcissist as a victim, however, more often than not, it’s the narcissist who plays the victim.

A narcissist is someone who has a grand sense of self, entitlement, and a hunger for power, so what does it mean when narcissists always play the victim or when a narcissist plays you for pity?

Could it be a manipulation tactic? Could it be on purpose? Or could it be that they truly feel victimized?

Let’s find out.

The Victim Mentality Of A Narcissist


In a study, it was suggested that people with narcissistic traits or with a narcissistic personality disorder often see themselves as a victim of transgressions against them more than people without the said personality disorder or traits.

In another study conducted in 2020, it was found that people with a loved one with a narcissistic personality disorder reported that their loved ones often felt victimized or had a victim mentality.

Now whether a person truly feels wronged or it’s just a pity play might not always be clear. If you have a loved one with a narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic traits, then you’ll know that they lack self-awareness. They often find it hard to be mindful of their actions and how they might affect others around them. They might not even agree with you even if you spell it out for them.

This is one of the reasons why a narcissist may feel attacked when you confront them or tell them off for their behavior because, for them, it doesn’t align with their sense of self.

The lack of self-awareness rears its head here. Combined with a grand sense of importance, a narcissist may not often agree with a situation if it doesn’t fit their world. Hence, the narcissistic victim syndrome.

The symptoms that may co-occur with the victim mentality of a narcissist can involve;

  • Sense of entitlement
  • Low self-awareness
  • Grandiosity
  • Projection
  • Need for control
  • Narcissistic rage
  • Lack of empathy

Keep in mind that not all narcissists play the victim and that not every victim has a narcissistic personality disorder.

Let’s look at the reasons why narcissists always play the victim.

Why Do Narcissists Always Play The Victim?

1. A Sense Of Entitlement

A narcissist has a strong sense of entitlement and this may lead them to believe that they deserve special treatment and recognition. When things don’t go their way, they may react badly and turn their displeasure on others claiming themselves as a victim of unfair treatment.

2. A Defense Mechanism

We all have defense mechanisms that we use in certain circumstances but we’re also aware of those defense mechanisms. We use them to protect ourselves from painful memories or anything too stressful. Narcissists are different. They might also use defense mechanisms to protect themselves but they might also have false beliefs about themselves and use grandiose as a defense mechanism.

For example, they might think of themselves as one of the smartest in the room and when someone else gets recognition, they might play the victim as a projection tactic to protect their feelings.

3. A Need For Power

Narcissists also need to control or gain power and may use the victim card to serve this purpose. When a narcissist plays the victim, they use this as a manipulation tactic to protect themselves and gain control over a situation they feel slipping. This could also be a sign of dark empaths.

4. Narcissistic Rage

Narcissists can’t take criticism or rejection well and may react with a common emotion – rage. This narcissistic rage is real. A narcissist may feel like a victim and respond with anger. Another thing is that even when a narcissist isn’t playing the victim, they may play it off like one just to take back control.

5. Lack Of Empathy

The lack of empathy can also be a factor that can cause narcissists to use the “victim card”. Some may use “playing the victim” as a manipulation tactic. If you feel hurt because of your narcissistic loved one’s actions, they might not see it like that or empathize with you. For them, you’re complaining unnecessarily.

How To Protect Yourself From Narcissistic Victim Syndrome?

NPD can be a complex disorder and when your loved one constantly plays the victim, it can affect you and your health terribly. Telling them that they are just playing the victim might not work, so here are some tips with which you can protect yourself from narcissistic victim syndrome.

  • Don’t take their words personally. It might not be easy but keep trying.
  • Don’t rise to their bait. If they begin playing the pity card, try to ignore it or walk away.
  • Avoid normalizing their behavior. Even if they say hurtful things, don’t pay mind to them.
  • Avoid second-guessing yourself too. As much as possible, don’t pay attention to their words but pay attention to their actions.
  • Avoid engaging in pity play. Even if they are being unfair to you.

Why a narcissist may engage in pity play can depend heavily on the situation or the type of disorder. There are many hidden reasons why narcissists always play the victim, so understand them first.

It might not be a conscious decision to play the victim. Even so, if you’re struggling then don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional therapist for additional help and support.

I hope this blog helped you. For more, you can write to us at info@calmsage.com or DM us on social media. You can also share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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