Why Do Narcissists Play Victim?

Why Do Narcissists Play Victim? why do narcissists play victim?
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Being involved with a narcissist is a challenging experience because you never know what you’re going to get, or which mask you’ll have to deal with. One of the common behaviors they engage in is playing the victim, especially when things don’t go their way or when they fail to get what they want.

According to PsychCentral, it is not immediately clear if the narcissist really feels like a victim or if they just pull that card when they want to manipulate others in social interactions. It also states that from a 2020 qualitative study, people who have been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder generally display a victim mentality more than other people.

Narcissists generally have a difficult time being aware of how their actions are harmful to others because they don’t ‘see’ things from the same playing field as you. This is not to excuse their behaviors and actions, but it’s important to understand that you don’t need to expend most of your energy explaining simple facets of life to them. Instead, you should focus on yourself and your boundaries.

They want to see every situation from their distorted worldview so as to assert their control and dominance over you as well as to feed their intense craving for superiority and entitlement. In this article, I am going to be sharing some of the common reasons why the narcissist plays the victim.

It’s also good to note that not everyone who plays the victim is a narcissist.

Why do narcissists always play victim?

1. To Avoid Being Held Accountable

Nothing deflects responsibility more than playing the victim. A narcissist will pull this card when they see that you’ve cornered them or when you’ve confronted them for their actions and behaviors. They may blame something else for their actions and behaviors so that they cannot take full ownership of what they’ve done. By playing the victim, they can escape all the consequences and criticism associated with their wrongdoing.

It’s simply a great defense mechanism that helps them avoid taking responsibility for their lives and instead point out that they’re victims of other people’s bad intentions. Because of their self-worth and sense of superiority, they wouldn’t want to be seen as being ‘wrong’.

2. Regain Their Control and Manipulation

A narcissist may also play the victim when they feel that they’re losing control in an instance or during your interactions. When someone plays the victim for something you’ve said or done, you tend to back off because you don’t want to hurt them. By portraying that you’re treating them unfairly, they elicit sympathy from you, and you may even feel guilty for your actions. These emotional responses manipulate you to do what they want.


Eliciting sympathy works very well when you want someone to lower their boundaries because you don’t want to make them feel bad or you don’t want to feel guilty for your actions. If you fall for this, they literally take the higher ground, and they’ll even be viewed as the hero, while you are viewed as the villain by those around you.

3. Attention

Playing the victim and eliciting sympathy from others is attention-grabbing. A narcissist thrives in an environment where they are constantly validated and admired. By playing the victim, they can get help from others and reinforce their feelings of self-importance.

They may even use it to easily slide into other relationships by receiving sympathy from their new ‘lovers.’ When they portray you as a monster for treating them harshly, people who may not be aware of their lies will listen to them and offer them all the assistance they need.

4. Low Empathy

A narcissist may also play the victim because they lack the ability to see things from your perspective. They simply cannot understand how you feel or where you’re coming from when you voice your concerns over something they’ve done. They might not see the hurtfulness of their behavior because of their distorted view of reality, and in this case, they view themselves as ‘genuine victims.’

It’s more like complaining to someone who has not done anything ‘wrong.’ Their low empathy or lack of it may also lead to playing victim as a way to get their needs met without really seeing how hurtful playing the victim can be towards you.

5. They May Genuinely See Themselves as Victims

The last reason why a narcissist may view themselves as victims is that they may genuinely believe they’re victims of their upbringing, culture, or their past. They might have been extremely neglected or abused when they were young, and they’re still trapped in that realm. When they are rejected or criticized, their fragile self is bruised or injured, and they may erupt with rage. When this happens, they see themselves as victims of your injustice and mistreatment.

They lack the inner resources to deal with criticism and rejection in a healthy way, so when they’re triggered, they experience a narcissistic collapse (feeling very depressed and angry). So, when you maintain your boundaries or when they don’t get what they want, they may feel that they’ve been treated unfairly.


A narcissist may play the victim for a number of reasons, but whatever the reason, it’s not a license for them to do whatever they want to others. It’s also not a license for you to show “compassion” and let them exploit you. The best way to protect yourself from someone who pulls this victim card in your life is to always understand and uphold your boundaries. When you know your boundaries, you will know how far you can go when it comes to “helping” others without overstretching yourself or hurting yourself.

Those boundaries will be tested by everyone, but your job is to always stick to them, even if it ends up being “hurtful” to others. If you feel or think you’re being “cold” for holding your boundaries, then that’s just a limiting belief you have to work on. When you lower them, you’re simply being cold to yourself. In fact, the greatest compassion you can show is to always stick to your boundaries, and other people around you may learn from that.

Don’t be a doormat for other people; be the beacon of light by first being compassionate with yourself. You are your job, and other people are not your job; they are their own jobs. It’s not easy taking care of ourselves, but that shouldn’t stop you from working on those limiting beliefs you’ve picked up from your conditioning or past experiences.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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