Discoveries About Narcissistic Projection And How It Is Used To Mislead And Manipulate You In 2023

What is Narcissistic Projection?

Projection is one of the narcissist’s favorite battle weapons.

So what is it? How does it work?

Ultimately, projection is a defensive mechanism people deploy when faced with something about themselves they don’t want to acknowledge. It’s a way of externalizing and brushing an issue under the proverbial carpet.

To be fair, we all project insecurities and fears. It’s a human emotional instinct embedded in our survival DNA. Everyday examples include:

    • Assuming someone can do something because you can
    • Saying someone doesn’t like you because, deep down, you don’t like them
    • Judging someone as “stuck up” because they didn’t pay as much attention to you as you’d like
  • Chastising someone for their makeup or fashion sense because you’re secretly insecure about your aesthetic

Moreover, they’re typically incapable of recognizing their poor behavior.

For them, every little criticism or disagreement is an opportunity to gaslight and pelt projection at the person who triggered their insecurity.

In most instances, narcissists whip out their defensive shields when faced with feelings of jealousy, loss of control, fear, and inferiority. Ultimately, being targeted by people with narcissistic personality styles can erode your mental health. Sometimes, you may internalize their projection and grow to believe they’re right.

6 Ways Narcissists Use Projection With Examples

We’ve discussed projecting behavior and why it’s a default gear for egomaniacs. Now, let’s unpack a few narcissistic projection examples to give you a peek inside the minds of delusionally conceited people.

1. Media Mayhem

Narcissists see their personal judgments and opinions as facts, and sometimes it reaches a point where they can’t handle when others disagree with their views on subjective matters.

For example, it’s not unusual for someone with these entrenched personality traits to grow unnecessarily upset if someone doesn’t agree with them about a song, movie, or show. When you disagree with their assessments, all of a sudden, it’s pursed lips, a huffed and dismissive sigh, followed by something along the lines of, “I guess it’s just one of those things that’s only appealing to people who appreciate dry wit” or “I cannot believe you don’t like it! I guess you just don’t ‘get it.’”

Since they can’t handle a minor difference of artistic opinion, narcissists feel the need to passive-aggressively crawl their way back to a place of dominance (in their mind’s eye).

2. Professional Peril

Heaven help you if the narcissist in your life is a colleague, family member, or friend with similar professional aspirations. Some might even argue that having a genuinely caring relationship is impossible under such circumstances.

Because they cannot handle coming in second, and they have mini nervous breakdowns whenever they feel threatened professionally — even when there’s no reason to be. Take, for example, the tale of Tina and Robin. Tina was a technical writer, and Robin was a playwright — two tracks at polar-opposite ends of the authoring spectrum. Yet, whenever Tina got a promotion or landed a new client, Robin would slap backhand barbs at her “friend” like, “you are the luckiest person in the world; I don’t know how you keep finding work!?”

3. Fashion Faux Pas

They see themselves as fashionistas. In their heads, they’re the trendsetters, not the followers.

So when a person with deep NPD tendencies feels like someone’s look is a little too similar to their own, they may flip out and start accusing their fashion twin of “stealing” their style.

In these cases, if you want to keep the peace, don’t point out they’re not the only person who dresses a certain way. They’ll snip at you and start nitpicking your wardrobe to regain a sense of sartorial dominance.

When Madison saw the pictures, she was immediately upset and said, “Why did you pick my style for this project!? Why are you copying my style!?”

When Emily explained the stylist made the wardrobe choices, Madison continued to accuse her friend of being uncreative and derivative.

4. Psychological Hot Potato

What happens when you ask a therapist specializing in narcissistic personality disorder how to tell someone with NPD that they’re self-centered?

They’ll advise you not to even try.


Because 9.9 times out of 10, the narcissists will immediately try to flip the script and aggressively insist you’re the one who needs to find a counselor’s couch ASAP.

In these instances, they’ll typically try to give themselves a measure of plausible deniability by saying something like, “I’m your friend, I care about you, and I really think you should find someone to talk to.

You don’t look good, and you’re acting unreasonable.” Narcissists will also throw around comments like, “What’s wrong with you!?” and “You need help!”

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