Become a Narcissism Detector in One Simple Step

narcissism detector

Now that I am seventeen years free of being held captive in an abusive marriage, I am quite a good narcissism detector.  But a friend recently recommended the youtube videos of a life coach named Richard Brannon in Southern California. He made some extremely wise connections that answered some serious questions that I could never seem to get answered. (I am putting a link to his channel at the end of this blog. He is excellent but he does use language that some might find difficult to listen to.) Seriously, he is the best narcissism detector I have heard.

His first observation that struck me was that if you want to be a narcissism detector, you have only to administer one small test. Smile and say no. You see, boundaries are intolerable to narcissists. Brannon described it as sitting in a restaurant with your milkshake. narcissism detectorThe narcissist across the room stretches his straw all the way into your milkshake and drinks it down.  The invasive behavior of a narcissist is always about destroying personal boundaries with the goal of complete domination. He is after you and everything you have.

My in-laws always sent me a check for my birthday which my ex-husband would promptly confiscate. In the fourteen years I was married to him, I was never allowed to have any money given to me by others. I circumvented this with my parents by requesting specific gifts, but it was a source of serious resentment for me. Occasionally I would pull myself together and decide to say no.

One birthday in Kentucky, we were seriously low on groceries. I went to the post office box and found my birthday check there and decided to spend it on groceries at a local Asian market. I came home with several bags of groceries and about fifty bucks in my pocket. I still remember the absolute rage on his face. In fact, he kicked me and the girls out of the house.

I had kind neighbors who drove me five hours to the Atlanta train station where I crossed the country with my four daughters. At the time, my youngest was four months.  I remember the anxiety and exhaustion of crossing the country in a train. We did not have a sleeper car. Any attempts to put up a boundary generally met with this kind of response. People often asked me why I could not talk to him, bring him to reason. How could I possibly explain? This kind of reaction happened over a hundred dollars.

Another question that Brannon answered for me is why the narcissist is so hard to break ties with completely. They always come narcissism detectorafter you, over and over to the point of being ridiculous. After a five-day train trip with three little girls and an infant, I arrived at my parent’s house to find  John calling incessantly. I can’t describe how apologetic he was. He trapped me for hours on the phone, pleading with me, begging me to take him back. Note to self: Narcissists talk for hours and hours.

You see, a narcissist isn’t satisfied until you are completely destroyed. They lure you back over and over so that they can wreak more and more destruction. The reason for this is that because they are incapable of accessing, much less owning, the horrific void within themselves, they strive to create it in others so they can experience it vicariously.

When Brannon put this into words, some interesting contexts came together for me. When, at seventeen, John and I told my mother that I was pregnant and that we were getting married, she was shocked. Later, she described to me the eager look on John’s face when we broke the news. She felt at the time that he enjoyed her emotional pain at the news. She was more right than she knew.

He often seemed to enjoy my suffering, putting me into situations that were at best impossible and at worst humiliating. At one point I was about to start my first job as a teacher. The morning I was to begin, he took the keys away from me, leaving me to disappoint my employer. I think that was just the beginning of his plans to destroy my career as a teacher, though fortunately, he did not succeed.

Another point he made in the video I watched was that not all narcissism is overt. Certainly, my ex was aggressively narcissistic. But one of the dangers of being a naturally empathetic person is that secret narcissists often search you out as well. These narcissists spend a lot of time talking about empathy but rarely give any. They come to you and pour out narcissism detectortheir woes and then after they leave, you discover yourself drained of energy.

Basically, if you want to be a narcissism detector, you have to be willing to say no to the boundary pushers in your life. The last point he made was that it isn’t up to you or me to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Even trained psychologists find it challenging since the relationship between narcissism and lying is well established. All that really matters is that you become the narcissism detector in your own life.

Narcissistic abuse, whether pathological or not, damages people. Find out early in a relationship by erecting boundaries. If the person you are seeing views those as threatening or amusing, opt out. Say no a couple times and see how they handle it. How people respond to a refusal speaks volumes about them.

My last observation is that in Proverbs it says that a righteous man is satisfied from himself. What this means is that a good person has developed themselves enough that their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual life is fulfilling. A healthy person doesn’t have to drink down anyone else’s milkshake. They like theirs just fine.


Lies that Keep You in a Narcissistic Marriage



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22 Replies to “Become a Narcissism Detector in One Simple Step”

  1. Boundaries are so important.Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Generally the only time I have a narcissist in my therapy office is during marriage counseling. (They don’t feel like they need individual therapy) They are proficient at attempting to triangulate, manipulate, and play the victim during the session.

  3. Ooooo! Yes! I can attest to this rule (if only a few times, I actually noticed it). “Narcissists talk for hours and hours.”>>> This is also so very very true! You and I have similar narcissist stories. I too was married and now divorced to/from one. It’s all so clear now, in hindsight. It wasn’t so clear then. This is such sound knowledge you are passing along. Also, thank you for your transparency. <3

  4. I’m just sitting here crying as I read this post. I know SO MANY men like this! It’s worse in some men than others. The weird thing is that people think they are Christians, and they believe that inflicting physical suffering on their wives is not a sin.

    I was kicked out of a church because I took a stand to protect women against sexual medical damage, because the pastor was telling the men behind the closed doors of his office that men could do whatever they wanted “behind closed doors,” as if God turns His head and yawns and doesn’t care that women are harmed. After showing them Scripture and medical information from some of my friends who had permanent damage to their bodies, the pastor and elders refused to alter their counsel to men. They told me to shut up. I said, “May God’s judgment fall on your heads!” I was formally kicked out of the church for being in “sin.”

    Christ has FURY about this. It’s called the wrath of God, and it’s inside me. I feel that fury and it sometimes drives me to despair.

  5. Hannah Ackley says: Reply

    I am so very sorry that you had to endure such a manipulative and abusive relationship. But thank you for writing this, I am sure that God will use it to help women break some chains with some people they don’t wish to be tied to!

  6. keisharussell84 says: Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know the “narcissist” all too well and I praise God everyday that now I am no longer bound by the thoughts and feelings that I use to believe because of their behavior. You are right on when you wrote, “You see, a narcissist isn’t satisfied until you are completely destroyed. They lure you back over and over so that they can wreak more and more destruction.” So many times this happened to me and I have seen it happen to so many others. You feel trapped by their destruction..

  7. Reading this caused the hair on my neck to stand up. I’ve only had contact with one person like this and it was a pastor. After we returned home from planting a church, we were going to help this man get the plant he started off the ground. The lies this man told to my husband were astounding.To make a long story short, his wife knew I was aware of the problems and she quietly asked us not to stay, for our family to leave. When we left that day and didn’t go back, my husband was verbally attacked by that man and was told he would ruin our ministry. Sadly, this sweet wife is still with him and two of their daughters, the other left to live life as she saw fit.

  8. Oh my goodness! Thank you for this article! I am so sorry for your horrific experiences, but you are helping so many people with your transparency. Even in my own small circle, I know so many people damaged by narcissists. Bless you! Pinning, tweeting, posting on Facebook!

  9. So glad you are free, and have answers. Thanks for sharing, as so many need to hear this!

  10. I’m not sure which is worse the passive aggressive or the narcissist. Actually, they are just two different kinds of evil. I am so sorry for your pain and glad for the healing power of Jesus. God doesn’t waste a thing and what has happened to you and others including myself is hope for others by sharing your story. Th enemy may make us feel isolated, but God unites us to stand strong!

  11. My goodness I can’t even imagine what you have gone through those many years of your life. this was jaw drop for me.. “The invasive behavior of a narcissist is always about destroying personal boundaries with the goal of complete domination. He is after you and everything you have.”

  12. ewebster20142017 says: Reply

    Alice, I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award! I think you have a beautiful site and great content! Here’s the link to my article about the award, and simply follow the steps if you choose to accept the nomination: Thanks for blogging and for the encouragement you bring to your readers!

  13. I’ve had to deal with one person in my life that was a narcissist. I’m a person who believes the best in people and it too me forever to realize what was actually going on. I thought I could reason but your right, there is no reason. It was horrific the lengths that person would go to try and destroy the person in my life that I was supporting. When I refused to back out of my friend’s life they turned their attention to me and tried to destroy me. It was crazy but I am so thankful I was rooted spiritually because I don’t know what I would have done otherwise. God carried us through and eventually those who had believed the narcissist saw with their own eyes the truth.

  14. Tears for all you and your girls endured, sister. I loved the first thing you shared, “Smile and say no.” This is so accurate. Thank you for opening up to show others the light!

  15. The Other One says: Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Me too, I married a (passive) narcissist. During our relasionship, he loved to hurt me, isolate me from society and manipulate me. When our son was born, I realised what is going to happen and started to figth against. We live now in divorce and have a four years old son. Unfortunatley the tribunal accepted that they gonna pass regulary time together, and I can see he is going to start „his work“ on him. I still pray that god will never stop to protect my little sweetheart.

  16. I am currently guiding a young couple to free themselves from an extremely narcissistic mother embedded in a narcissistic family. It spans generations, beginning with the grandmother. The younger sister, in her mid 20s,is being groomed to be the worst of all. The rest of the family are true blue flying monkeys. It’s basically a cult. One is beaten down to have zero self worth. The smug glee the narcs have when the young couple break down in pain is bone chilling. The young couple had to retain the services of an attorney to enforce their demand for no contact. One thing I’d like to share is to avoid actually appearing in court if at all possible.( example: securing a restraining order). The narcs are skilled at gaslighting their victims so that the victims go through great emotional trauma again in court. Since this young couple’s case was so severe, I sought stellar advice from one of the most outstanding attorneys in the country. He said it all boils down to a head game. The victims have to get strong mentally and enforce No Contact, never taking the narc’s bait. Not even once. I’ve had people in their 60s tell me that now that their narc parent is dead, they are finally free. 60 years of a robbed life being mentally and physically abused. Exposure and education has to end this cycle. Alice, I am giving you a standing ovation for writing an excellent article. I’ve been reading everything out there on narcissistism. Some ramble on , others touch some good points. Yours hits a note which makes so much sense. Bravo! Bravo! You risked exposure to save others. I’m betting you sent out many lifeboats. Thank you.

  17. I agree they effectively try to create their own cults.

  18. Thank you for sharing! My greatest fear is not being able to trust anyone again….especially myself because I seem to have an internal magnetic for men with narcissistic personality traits. I’ve been involved with 2 in the last 5 years. I am reading and watching everything I can get my hands on and it makes my head spin realizing just how many people have these characteristics and they think there is nothing wrong with the way they think and treat people.

    1. I have found the only way to trust myself again is to be ruthlessly honest with myself. I no longer try to sell myself on how great someone is. The moment they say or do something off, I am bringing it up, even to the point of bluntness. Learning to be direct has been one of the biggest struggles for this confrontation avoiding girl!

  19. […] Become a Narcissism Detector in One Simple Step […]

  20. Thank you for sharing this vital information and also your personal experiences, even though painful, so that others can learn about narcissistic behaviors. Sadly, I think this is something we need to teach our youth about, especially young women, to help them recognize the red flags and have a solid, safe plan for avoidance and/or ending relationships before it gets to a point of no return. No one should have to go through what you did and many others do day after day.

    This is not what God intended for marriage nor families, no matter what the abuser says or what a pastor or elder says. We need to continue spreading the word that this is not right in the eyes of God and not acceptable. Period.

  21. am pretty sure that i found your blog from a fb post by Praying Medic.
    A girlfriend from church who ive known for about 8 yrs is married to a guy who claims to be a christian but uses what i can only call religious abuse and has addictions and seems like an intimacy anorexic. Now that i have read your blog and watched the Richard Grannon YT video it sure seems he fits the behavior of a narcisist. She is committed to her marriage as she took a vow to God.

    One day i will share your blog with her.
    Glad i found you!
    Bless you for putting this info out there.

    I think she has endured this crap for at least 10-14 yrs. but has known him even longer than that.
    She got a prophecy about him totally flipping to become the opposite of how he is about 6 years ago, so that has given her strength to keep holding out each time she has almost seperated from him. She is one of those who prays scripture and makes declaration daily about their family and future and his character and choices. I might be a narcisist, too. Maybe that is why we are friends?
    I just want her to hear your story and learn this new vocabulary word: Narcisist. If its God’s will for her to divorce him she is gonna have to hear from Him or she will stay until death.

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