Some informative sites regarding understanding, dealing with, and recovering from relationships with narcissists.


False Modesty/ frequently asked Question #36


I met many Narcissists who were modest - even overly so. This seems to

conflict with your observations. How do you reconcile the two?


The "modesty" displayed by Narcissists is false. It is mostly and merely verbal. It is couched in

flourishing phrases, emphasized to the point of absurdity, repeated unnecessarily - usually to the point of

causing gross inconvenience to the listener. Its real aim and its subtext are exactly the

opposite of common modesty. It intends either to aggrandize the Narcissist

or to protect his grandiosity from scrutiny and possible erosion. Such modest outbursts precede

inflated, grandiosity laden statements made by the Narcissist and pertaining to fields of human knowledge

and activity in which he is sorely lacking. Devoid of systematic and methodical education, the

Narcissist tries to make do with pompous mannerisms, bombastic announcements, and the

unnecessary and wrong usage of professional jargon. He attempts to dazzle his surrounding with apparent

"brilliance". Beneath all this he is shallow, devoid of real knowledge, improvising, and fearful

of being discovered as deceitful. The Narcissist is a conjurer of verbosity, using sleight of mouth rather

than sleight of hand. He is ever possessed of the inner sensation that he really a petty crook about to be

exposed and reviled by society.

This is a horrible feeling to endure and a taxing, onerous way to live. The Narcissist has to protect himself

from his own intimation, internal on-going trial, guilt feeling and anxiety. One of the most efficacious

defense and protection mechanisms is false modesty. The Narcissist will declare and reveal himselfe

reveal himself as unfit, unworthy, lacking, not trained and not (formally) schooled, not objective,

cognizant of his own shortcomings and vain. This way, if (to him, when) exposed he could always say:

"But I told you so in advance, didn't I?". False modesty is, thus, a hedge mechanism. The Narcissist

"insures his bets" by placing a side bet on his own fallibility, weakness, deficiencies, and proness to err.

Yet another function is to extract Narcissistic supply from the listener. By contrasting a belittling and

reducing statement about himself with a brillant, dazzling display of ingenuity, wit, intellect, knowledge,

or beauty - the Narcissist intends to secure an adoring, admiring, approving, or applauding protestation

from the listener. The person to whom the falsely modest statement is directed is expected to vehemently

deny the Narcissist's claims: "But, really, you know much more than you pretend to know", or "Why

did you say that you are unable to do (this or that)? Truly, you are very gifted at it!"

The Narcissist then will shrug his shoulders, smirk, blush and move uncomfotable from side to side.

This was not his intention, he would asssure his correspondent. He did not mean to fish for

compliments (exactly what he did mean to do). He really does not deserve the praise. But

the aim has, thus, been achieved: the Narcissistic supply has been granted and avidly consumed. Despite

the Narcissist's protestations, he feels much better now.

The Narcissist is a dilettante and a charlatan. He glosses over complicated subject and situtations in life.

He sails through them powered by shallow acquitance with rapidly acquired verbal and behavioral

vocabularies (which he then proceeds to forget). False modesty is only one of a series of false

behavior patterns. The Narcissist is a pathological liar, either implicitly or explicitly. His whole existence is

a derivative of a False Self, a deceitful invention and its reflections. With false modesty he seeks to

implicate others in his little games, to co-opt them, to force them to collaborate making ultimate use of

social conventions of conduct. The Narcissist, above all, is a shrewd manipulator of human characters and

fault lines. He will never admit to this. In this sense he is verily modest.

Common Personality Traits of Narcissists from:

The most telling thing that narcissists do is contradict themselves.

They will do this virtually in the same sentence, without even stopping to take a breath. It can be trivial

(e.g., about what they want for lunch) or it can be serious (e.g. about whether or not they love you).

When you ask them which one they mean, they'll deny ever saying the first one, though it may literally

have been only seconds since they said it -- really, how could you think they'd ever have said that?

You need to have your head examined! They will contradict FACTS. They will lie to you about

things that you did together. They will misquote you to yourself. If you disagree with them, they'll

say you're lying, making stuff up, or are crazy. [At this point, if you're like me, you sort of panic and

want to talk to anyone who will listen about what is going on: this is a healthy reaction; it's a reality check

("who's the crazy one here?"); that you're confused by the narcissist's contrariness, that you turn to

another person to help you keep your bearings, that you know something is seriously wrong and

worry that it might be you are all signs that you are not a narcissist]. NOTE: Normal

people can behave irrationally under emotional stress -- be confused, deny things they know, get sort of

paranoid, want to be babied when they're in pain. But normal people recover pretty much within an hour

or two, or a day or two, and with normal people, your expresssions of love and concern for their welfare

will be taken to heart. They will be stabilized by your emotional and moral support. Not so with narcissists

the surest way I know of to get a crushing blow to your heart is to tell a narcissist you love her or him.

They will respond with a nasty power move, such as telling you to do things entirely their way or else be

banished from them for ever.