THE NASTY NINE: Do you have a narc in your life?

The Nasty Nine

Today, I’m helping out my sister, who runs an online support group as well as the website for victims of those who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder…I’m coming out as a former victim, and by doing so I hope to spread awareness.

What is a narcissist, you ask? The Mayo Clinic definition reads “a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” It then goes on to say this is due to their low self-esteem or some other heart-tugging thing that almost makes you feel bad for them.

I’m going to apologize right now—for me, there’s no way to put a pretty face on this disorder. I’ve had experience with several narcs in my life (two of them romantic relationships), and I can tell you they are nothing more than abusers. I’ve gone through it, I’ve seen my friends go through it, I’ve seen my family go through it. Part of why I’m sharing this is to open people’s eyes. I know enough that if I even smell narc behavior I run, so there hasn’t been a narc–friend, romantic interest, boyfriend of a friend or otherwise–that’s been able to get a foothold in my life in sixteen years.

I want to give others that same opportunity.

If someone in your life does these nine patterns of behavior (my sister and I call them The Nasty Nine), then this person is likely a narcissist, and you may need to seek professional help:

LOVE BOMBS: Showers you with gifts or attention so you forgive and forget the negatives.

CHARMS: To others, this person is amazing. They never show their true colors unless they are alone with you. The main goal, here, is so that if you complain to your friends or try to seek help, your friends might think you’re the one who has the problem, because they simply can’t imagine this person doing what you say he or she has done.

GASLIGHTS: Twists your words or insists that you “misunderstood”—even when you present them with solid proof. For example, if you know you wore a red sweater to a party, they will tell you over and over again, if it serves their purpose, that it was a blue sweater until you actually question what it is you wore. Eventually, you will start to lose grip on what’s really the truth, and that’s what they want, so that they can further convince you that you are the crazy one.

BERATES: Demeans, belittles, humiliates, and embarrasses you in front of others (for example, your mother, if she is a narc, might say, “I don’t know why she chose that dress to wear–the one she had on last week hid her big stomach”); sometimes, the person is just cruel to you when the two of you are alone (example: “you should really lay off that wine—you’re getting fat”).

CONTROLS: Attempts to control your time, money, clothes, what you eat, what you watch, even other people in your life, such as your children.

BLAMES: Everything is someone else’s fault. They never take responsibility for their own actions. In addition, this person isn’t crazy, everyone else is—for example: he’ll tell you his three ex-girlfriends all dumped him because they were crazy bitches, and it was awful for him because he was a victim.

ISOLATES: Tries to keep you from spending time with your friends and loved ones. They are also insanely jealous–sometimes, even, of people in your past that aren’t in your life anymore if you talk about them too much.

GHOSTS: Suddenly disappears; doesn’t respond to texts, emails, or phone calls. When the person finally does contact you, there’s a boatload of bullshit excuses. Or anger that you even questioned it.

HOOVERS: When you set a boundary or try to break up, they return to love bombing to get you back, and they won’t stop until you’re back in their clutches. I have heard of houses being bought for victims.

These are the basics. There are plenty of other inacceptable social behaviors as well (let’s not even discuss how screwed up Triangulation is).

This list might seem tame, but the fact is, behaviors can and often do escalate into physical abuse and violence, depending upon the individual. In 2003, for example, I was trapped in a car with one–my boyfriend at the time–on a white-knuckle 13-hour drive, and I was told that if I dared to speak I was going to get dumped on the side of the road. He wouldn’t even pull over to let me use the bathroom. I was told that I deserved all of this, of course, because I was being selfish and wanted to put my suitcase in the back seat instead of the trunk.

I was lucky. I’d been putting up with his verbal and emotional abuse for almost two years, and was completely brainwashed: he’d isolated me, constantly made me feel inferior and self-conscious, ghosted me countless times, lied to me and when I called him on it would tell me I was crazy, and when I got mad and said “f-off,” he’d shower me with stuff and be awesome for two weeks so I’d forgive him.  He’d only say kind and complimentary things if he wanted me to do something for him, otherwise, he would frequently call me hairy, fat, smelly, or whatever other bug was up his ass that day. It was an endless cycle. I thought it was normal, because it happened over time. If he hadn’t gotten violent, I might never have escaped.

I have heard stories much, much worse than my own.

Although the easiest way to be victimized by these individuals is through a romantic relationship—love is a powerful force and can be used for evil as well as good (and dating websites are overrun with them, because there’s always a fresh supply of victims, and it’s easy for a narc to hide his true colors online)—that is certainly not the only type of relationship in which a narc can function in your life. Your parents can be narcs. Your boss/coworkers. Your siblings. Even a friend or two.

Narcs are also not gender-specific.

It’s important to learn to identify these individuals, and to avoid them. They are a type of sociopath; they do not care about anyone else’s feelings and have no empathy for anyone. Once they tornado through your life, you’re going to have one hell of mess to clean up, and repairing the damage can take years.

If you have questions or want to do more research, The Narcissistic Life, which educates the public, is here:

If you are the victim of a narc, think you might be, know someone who is being victimized or you were in the past and you’re still not over it, you can reach out to me and I will connect you with my sister and her group, or you can visit For the next five days, you can buy a T-shirt to help spread awareness here:

Yes, you can heal; yes, you can recover; yes, you can move on and have healthy, loving relationships with non-narcs. All you have to do is reach out for help.

There are many people suffering because they don’t realize they’re trapped in something unhealthy. It’s time for them to know they don’t have to shed any more tears.

It’s time to escape the insanity.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at

Posted on May 29, 2018, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, News and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I had a therapist who fit that description perfectly! Yes, therapists can be that way, too. Beware of the Messiah Complex! Many choose the therapy profession because being in that position gives the person legal power over the patient, and they love being in control. This is rarely discussed since therapists are supposedly helpful, ha ha….

    By choice I do not call anyone a narc, though. Rather, I call the behavior narcissistic instead of labeling the person. To act that way is troubling indeed, and best to avoid anyone who does. I consider myself lucky to have gotten away from that therapist. Do a search in my blog for “Maria” and you’ll find her. I saw her between Thanksgiving 2010 and March 2012. I went through horrible withdrawal afterward, too. It was hard to get anyone to understand that a therapist could be so abusive.

    • That’s terrible, Julie! I’m so glad you got away from that person. There are so many who don’t see it and aren’t that lucky. I’m really happy for you that you’re out of that. And yes, the withdrawal is the worst part, because you become “addicted” to that cycle.

      And thank you for always reading my blog. I love it when you comment and we get to discuss things!

      Again, I’m glad we both got away from these people in our lives.

      • Yes! I can only hope that her other “patients” understand someday. But they keep seeing her as a lifesaver. I have learned that a red flag for therapy abuse, the type where boundaries are murky or the therapist is over-controlling is when the patient almost instantly believes the therapist is the One and Only. I knew one of her patients who went four times a week, and as far as I could tell, they went to lunch together. And you bet I saw Maria as “lifesaving” for a while, too, I actually believed it and worshiped her just like they all do. Until she went way too far. Which is how it seems to end, abruptly and traumatically.

  1. Pingback: “The Nasty Nine” – Darkest Before the Sunrise

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