Health

A Therapist Explains Why a Narcissist Might Fake Being Sick

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Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula specializes in narcissistic behavior and relationships, and produces an ongoing series of YouTube videos in which she helps people identify some of the tell-tale signs that they might be being manipulated or controlled by a narcissist in their own life.

In a recent video, Durvasula reads from an “Am I The Asshole” Reddit thread to illustrate a specific phenomenon in narcissistic relationships. The situation is as follows: a woman’s husband would frequently pretend to have a headache or stomachache in order to get out of social situations where he was bored or not the center of attention, and he would always expect her to leave with him.

“That feels very isolating to me,” she says. “A narcissistic relationship is like when somebody keeps playing that trick on you over and over again, and you keep falling for the trick over and over again… Most people in narcissistic relationships are deeply empathic, so if somebody says to you ‘I’m sick,’ more often than not we’re going to say ‘what can we do to help’… I hate it, it is such a manipulation.”

Durvasula notes that even when you try to set boundaries with a narcissist, as the individual in the Reddit post did, that can backfire. In this specific instance, after being told by his wife that if he left she would stay, the narcissistic husband threw up at a party, and made the wife look like a neglectful partner.

“How is it a grown ass man, feeling sick to his stomach, wouldn’t have excused himself from the table, found a bathroom?” She asks. “This dude waited until he threw up. He intentionally ruined an 18 year old’s party.”

“The manipulation, and the need to look like the good one, the victim, at any cost, including ruining a young person’s birthday party, that really captures the toxicity of these relationships,” she concludes. “Narcissistic people will ruin anything. They’ll ruin a family wedding, a reunion, a friend’s birthday party or a kid’s birthday party, so that they can still look good.”

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