How to humiliate yourself in Bulgaria

Sleep with the AC on.

If mom catches you doing that, you’re in for a long lecture on how ‘your waist will get a cold’ and you’ll ‘become sterile.’ Just turn the damn thing off, okay?

Refuse food when it’s offered to you.

Doesn’t matter how gross shkembe chorba or fries cooked in mas (pig lard) sounds. When grandma sets up a trapeza, you eat and you ask for seconds.

Learn Bulgarian from your local friends.

Don’t be a fool. Us mischievous Bulgarians love to mess with foreigners and will teach you every bad word you come close to pronouncing correctly. You’ll be familiar with “mamka mu!” (damn it), long before we even teach you zdrasti (hello). Be careful, don’t you dare talk to grandma with that mouth!

Wear pajama pants in public.

This is the ultimate fashion/social suicide here. I understand that other countries value comfort above all, but if you are spotted wearing plaid pajamas or, God forbid, havliena pijama down Vitoshka, you will immediately be extradited to pariah land.

Assume that Azis is our national celebrity.

It’s true, this chalga icon known for his platinum blonde hair and frequent gender changes has been a top selling artist for years. Inspired by Rihanna and the Victoria’s Secret angels, Azis is famous for his outrageous shows where thigh-high leather boots, whips and shock collars are the norm. But he is far from an accurate national representation. If you want to see some real Bulgaria celebrities, google Dimitar Berbatov, Grigor Dmititrov, Valya Balkanska and the all-time favorite, national hero Vasil Levski.

Get drunk off of one rakiya shot.

Ah, rakiya. The sweet, fruity elixir, powerful enough to cure any disease, lift your spirit and transport you to a whole new dimension of intoxication if you’re not careful. Seriously, don’t be that guy. Grandma could drink you under the table.

Call us “commies.”

Long story short, yes, the Russian General Aleksandar Batenberg and his troops helped free us from Ottoman slavery, and yes, Bulgaria was Russia’s ally in WWII, but the “communist” party of Bulgaria hurt us badly by seizing private land in Godech and apartments in Sofia, among other crimes. Please, be more mindful of this sensitive historic relationship.

Show up na gosti (empty-handed).

Gotta mind your manners when you are in a country renowned for its hospitality. A nice kozunak would be an excellent dinner party gift, or perhaps a box of assorted Svoge chocolates.

Not know what language we speak.

You’d be surprised to see how many tourists pass through, believing that just because we share the Cyrillic alphabet with Russians we speak the same language. We actually have our very own Bulgarian language, which prides itself on being impossibly hard to learn with its glagoli, spomagatelni, ю, я and ь.

Ask if we’re in the European Union.

Da, we’ve been on team EU since 2007! How else did you think you were able to enter the country by just flashing your ID? Our development may have been stalled by the Soviet Union era, but we are very much Western Europe-oriented and rapidly growing our presence on the continental scene.

Think we’re a tropical country.

Just because you went on vacation to Chernomorets in August, that doesn’t mean that the weather is 30°C and beautiful all the time. Winters on Buzludzha are brutal with temperatures well below zero. On the other hand, fall in the Rodopi Mountain is to die for, with its scenic hiking routes; and spring in Bistritsa is like no other with its luscious woods, waterfalls, and starinni (quaint) houses.

Try to master horo the first time.

Attempt Boryano, Boryanke and you’ll most likely look like a drunk hen (piyana kokoshka). It takes dedication to master this energetic, traditional dance, so just hold on tight to your partners’ hands. Once you take down the proper steps, crosses and tiny jams though, you will be the most-beloved foreigner to ever enter mehanata.

Ask us why our national cuisine is Greek.

For historical reasons, the land that is Bulgaria today has been influenced by our neighbors Greece and Turkey (thanks a lot, Alexander the Great). Unsurprisingly, our food is just as eclectic as our 1334-years-old culture. Bulgarian cuisine has adopted the Turkish lokum and halva, and the Greek mousaka and baklava. That being said, we do have our very own distinct cuisine, producing excellent feta cheese (known simply as “cheese”), as well as kashkaval, luytenitsa, and med.

Think that chalga is our national music.

Just like our melting pot cuisine, popular club music known as chalga has Arabesque origins, using tambourines, trumpets, accordions, fiddles and šargija. This is a popular trend of clubs; however, we have many other genres such as hip-hop, repped by Upsurt, Ustata, and Lora Karadjova, as well as pop, nicely done by D2, Ostava, and KapuZma.

14 Guaranteed Ways to Humiliate Yourself in Australia

1.Try to outdrink an old mate at the pub.

Unless you are from Russia or some other notoriously known drinking country, don’t even try to outdrink an Aussie. Especially not the fair dinkum bloke with sun-wrinkled skin and an Acubra hat speaking what seems like an entirely different language with the bartender. He will crush you.

2. Order a “cheeseburger with ketchup only.”

There’s no better way to hold up the line at McDonald’s than trying to order a cheeseburger with ketchup only. Forget the fact that ketchup is actually called tomato sauce Down Under — that’s the least of your worries. The conversation will likely go something like this:

You: I’d like a cheeseburger with ketchup only.
Cashier: Pardon me, mate?
You: A cheeseburger with only tomato sauce.
Cashier: Soooo, just a bun with tomato sauce?
You: (Confused and slightly irritated) No, a burger with cheese and tomato sauce.
Cashier: So, just no meat, mate?

You should just give up at this point and understand that a “cheeseburger” is basically just a general term for sandwich (like “Coke” means “soda” in Georgia) and just scrape the mustard, onions, and pickles off with a napkin.

3. Move to the right side of the sidewalk to let someone pass.

You’re walking peacefully down the sidewalk when all of the sudden you’ve entered into a stressful game of chicken with the stranger walking toward you. Your heart is racing. Which way do I go?! Well, if you follow your instincts and veer right, you will almost always enter into that very awkward back and forth dance inevitably ending in a “Sorry, you go.” When Down Under, remember to veer left.

4. Mistake an Aussie for a Kiwi and vice versa.

It’ll be hard to pick it out at first, but after awhile you’ll figure out the subtle nuances between “chip” and “chup” and “six” and “sex.” But, before that happens, it’s best to stay clear of this sibling rivalry. Start with an open-ended “So where are you from?” until you get the hang of the accents.

5. Freak out over the spider hiding in your shoe.

Aussies don’t freak out over sights like this. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Or the snake basking on the river bank near your bag. Or the shark swimming through the area in which you were just surfing. Or the dropbears. Adopting the “no worries” mentality of the Australians is the only way to save yourself from the embarrassment of shrieking like a teenage girl when you come face-to-face with their native wildlife.

6. Enter a roundabout to the right.

We all know someone who knows someone who did it. It’s late at night and your brain totally forgets that you are in the Outback, where people drive on the left side of the road, on the right side of the car. If the tale doesn’t end in any serious accidents, it will most definitely be lifelong ammo for your Aussie mates to make fun of your foreign ass.

7. Eat dinner before heading to “tea.”

So you’ve been invited over for afternoon tea around 6 p.m., eh? Show up with your belly full expecting a nice hot cup of Earl Grey, and you’ll be the evening’s punch line for sure. Tea is code for supper in the land of eternal sunshine.

8. Eat a giant spoonful of Vegemite.

Vegemite is best enjoyed in moderation (Photo: Thinkstock)

There’s nothing more hilarious than watching someone who has never before tried Vegemite stick an entire spoonful straight into their mouth. Of course it’s disgusting like that, and of course the locals are going to let you do it anyways and laugh at you afterwards. Avoid this classic faux pas and remember to just spread a very thin layer on a piece of buttered toast to sample this Aussie favorite.

9. Get sunburnt straightaway.

There’s no easier way to pick a tourist than by their glowing red sunburnt skin. Welcome to Australia, where there is a hole in the ozone layer directly above you. You rarely see an Aussie with an uncomfortably red nose. The locals know to always slather on the sun cream before heading outside.

10. Underestimate the ocean.

Unless you have some dumb master plan to get a cute local surfer to save you from the rip current, beware of the ocean. Otherwise, lots of smirking locals will be shaking their heads at you as the lifeguard pulls you onto the shore completely out of breath and on the brink of tears. They did warn you not to swim over there, after all…

11. Misinterpret the Aussie language.

Never ask if they’re going to put another shrimp on the barbie. Don’t show up with a pair of panties when your mate asks you to pick him up a pair of thongs. And, just keep talking after someone replies “sweet as,” because they are not going to finish that thought.

12. Look left when crossing the street.

Not only will doing so instantly identify you as a tourist, it could also be a matter of life and death. When in doubt, just look both ways at least six times before crossing the street. That should keep you safe and off the pole bar of the next Hilux cruising past.

13. Underestimate the size of the country.

Go ahead and share your plans to “do” Sydney in a day and then just “pop down” to Melbourne with a local and watch them laugh. There is absolutely no way you can “pop” anywhere in Australia. Australia is about the same size as America. Crazy right?! It takes hours to fly from one main city to another.

14. Believe in dropbears.

Run, it’s a Dropbear! (Composite photo: Yamavu/Wikimedia Commons)

Come on, people! Hasn’t this joke been around long enough to know they don’t exist?!

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6 Ways to Humiliate Yourself in Europe

The consequences of looking like a tourist in a foreign place can range from serious (becoming a target for theft and scams) to humorous (awkwardness, frustration, public embarrassment). Here are a few of the most blatant ways that your lack of familiarity with local culture in Europe can bring you public shame and humiliation, plus advice on keeping it cool while abroad.

How to Humiliate an Absolute Narcissist



Throughout history, individuals and groups have fallen for an easy way out of life’s complications by just pretending that they can do no wrong. Moment to moment, challenge to challenge, they’ll grab any bogus rationalization that they pretend beats all challenges to their absolute authority.

It can happen to any of us depending on appetites, aptitudes, and opportunities. Indeed, as psychologist Craig Malkin rightly points out, some narcissism is a good thing. But here the focus is on people who fall all the way into it: Absolute narcissists.

Confirmation bias, the universal impulse to embrace only what affirms us and dismiss all that challenges us is a problem we all must learn to manage. Absolute narcissists instead treat confirmation bias as the solution to all of their problems.

Being an absolute narcissist takes discipline of a peculiar kind, the discipline to be completely undisciplined, no consistency in their relentless and bogus rationalizations, the discipline to say in response to everything “that proves I’m right” with no attention to reality, or the meaning of the things they say since all that matters is keeping up the appearance of winning, acting like a robot programmed to pretend to beat every challenge, an algorithm for sorting all wins to themselves and all loses to whoever challenges or threatens their authority. To be an absolute narcissist, one needs to know nothing but how to act like an absolute know-it-all. No wonder it has been such a tempting option throughout the ages.

For an absolute narcissist to stay on message, there can’t be a message other than a relentless “See? I win!” Still, to conceal their egomania, absolute narcissists have to pretend that they have some moral message. They, therefore, cloak themselves in whatever fake crusade justifies declaring total war against all of their competition. Their fake crusade distracts their competition, people who take the meaning of words seriously and are trying to figure out what’s right.

Throughout history, absolute narcissists have proven again and again that one doesn’t need a vision, just the pretense of one. Like all con artists, they can fake a good winning streak and garner a following of gullible people who want in on the streak. Thus, throughout history, there have also been absolute narcissist epidemics, cults, thrilling at having discovered a way to escape reality just by treating their confirmation bias as a solution to all their problems.

Absolute narcissists are exhibitionists. They sidle up as if for normal human conversation. When they’ve got you hooked, they open their trench coats and show off their stiff little absolute invincibility. They do so with confidence because they know they can win no matter how you respond. They’re ready for your reaction whatever it may be. If you scold them, they’ll call you a prude. If you walk away, they’ll call you a chicken. If you try to be nice to them, they’ll call you a wimp. If you act out, they’ll call you upset. If you attack them, they’ll scold you for being uncivil. They’ll posture automatically and robotically any which way to maintain their false appearance of invincibility.

No society has ever found an antidote to an absolute narcissist epidemic. Instead, the epidemics have died eventually simply because no one can pretend they’re righter than reality forever. Such movements eventually lose their battle against reality, though often causing mass destruction in the process. The most likely cause of humankind’s eventual extinction is runaway confirmation bias of absolute narcissist movements whether through world domination or the conflagration that results from infallibility battles between opposing absolute narcissist movements.

The challenge that has eluded humankind all along is this: How do you stop absolute narcissism? How do you stop people and movements whose only goal is remaining unbeatable? Here are some curiously untried suggestions:

Don’t try to persuade an absolute narcissist. Instead, humiliate them, cut them. Make them bleed in any exchange with others listening in, whether face to face or in a Twitter exchange. Talk past them to the audience. He’s just a specimen of mindless mechanical pretend invincibility. “See what they did there?”

Absolute narcissists are one-trick phonies. Focus doggedly on their one trick: “See what they did? They’ll say anything to jerk themselves off into feeling like a winner, like some scummy little exhibitionist.”

The absolute narcissist will retaliate and yet, having only the one trick, everything they say will confirm your accusation. Respond with “Look, they did it again.” Be relentless and don’t fall for any of the distractions they throw up as their smokescreen. They don’t care about substantive debate except as an excuse for pretending everything that challenges them is wrong. Don’t be confused.

Leave your subjective morality out of it. Don’t scold by your personal standards. Whatever your standards, an absolute narcissist will make you wrong for having them. There’s really only one moral issue and its universal: No one beats reality. Reality, which absolute narcissists don’t care about at all, beats all absolute narcissists no matter how insistent their pretense of ruling reality.

There’s no need to defend yourself. Absolute narcissists will try to ensnare you in your own moral doubts by pretending they care about moral standards they care nothing about. They operate on defaulty logic. If they can find any fault in you, that proves that they are faultless by default. They blare their morality police siren so loud they don’t have to hear their own hypocrisy. Don’t let yourself be ensnared. Be proud of your human fallibility and shame them for pretending to be superhumanly infallible.

For example, if they play prude, saying, “Don’t be a mean name-caller,” say to the audience, “This fool doesn’t even notice that name-caller is a name. We all name call. We’re all mean sometimes. I’m trying to name call with precision, and I’m mean where I think meanness is earned. This absolute narcissist doesn’t care about name-calling or meanness. They pretend to care when it helps them pretend they’re eternally right and righteous. Pitiful.”

And then flip it to ensnare him. Call them things that you don’t think are universally bad. Say they’re just masturbating in public. When they try to deny it as though masturbation is bad, laugh at them for their prudishness. Tease, ridicule and shame them mercilessly for not trying to figure out right from wrong, instead, pretending to have it all figured out.

Stay calm, even friendly, to the person cowering inside their absolute narcissistic fake infallibility cloak. Stay light, even humorous. It’s nothing personal. Anyone can become an absolute narcissist. They think they’re special. Far from it. They’re just another in a long line of people for whom reality is too scary to face and too easy to dismiss.

Don’t be distracted by your own judgmental labeling as if calling someone an absolute narcissist is condemning them to a life sentence. A narcissist is a gloat-aholic, absolutely addicted to the gloating lifestyle. You're intervening because you are optimistic that they could get over their addiction. They'll deny it and scold you for calling them names. That's no different from an alcoholic taking umbrage at being called an alcoholic. The irony is that you're more hopeful than the absolute narcissist. You believe they could drop their robotic self-aggrandizement and rejoin humankind. To you, it's a deadly lifestyle they could drop. To them, it's their very essence, unchangeable. If anyone thinks their condition is permanent, it's the absolute narcissist, not you.

Exhibit confidence not born of some strategic posture you have to try to sustain through all of the absolute narcissist’s maneuverings but from your gut opposition to all absolute narcissists because they pretend they’re God, masters of, and not subject to reality. If an absolute narcissist tried to seduce you by pandering to your every care and commitment, you’d try to cut them too. You’re not fighting against what the absolute narcissist believes. They don’t have beliefs in anything other than their own absolute infallibility. Rather, you’re fighting in opposition to all absolute narcissism. You’re a fallible human trying to adapt to our rapidly changing reality – just as the narcissist would be if he hadn’t fallen for the oldest, cheap trick in the book. Life is and has always been trial and error, iffy guesswork. Be proud of your ever-learning guesswork.

Don’t let the narcissist turn the debate into a win all/lose all battle for fake infallibility where if you admit to your humanness, that you're suddenly proven eternally absolutely wrong about everything and they’re vindicated, suddenly proven eternally absolutely right about everything. No one is infallible and anyone who pretends to be deserves a swift, sharp kick. Kicking them doesn’t mean you’re infallible. Don’t play along. Everyone is fallible.

Fallibilism has always won because reality isn’t impressed by narcissistic strutting. Reality will do what it does and all we can do is our human best to learn how to deal with it, starting with learning how to shut down know-nothing, know-it-all narcissists who pretend they’re done learning.

With absolute narcissists, it’s not that the emperor has no clothes. It’s that the emperor is nothing but clothes, a suit of armor with nobody home. You can embarrass that empty suit in front of an audience. That’s how you shame a narcissist back to their fallible human senses.


Don't add fuel to the fire

The article said:
"If you walk away, they’ll call you a chicken."

Walking away is one of my favorite tactics. It works for me. They want my undivided attention. I withhold it. Acting disinterested or unaffected by their BS seems to take the wind out of their sails. When I get a phone call from a person I feel is an narcissist I let them have the floor for as long as they want. I stay as silent as possible. I smile when they try to bait me and don't take the bait.

The advice in this article sounds like heavy-lifting. It's so much easier to blow them off. Ignoring a narcissist and treating them as irrelevant seems so much more cost-effective.


psychology yes, try also, to include ontology and transformation.

I agree as far as that goes.

George Bernard Shaw said "Never fight with a pig. You'll just get dirty and the pig likes it."

I agree but I also say "never say never." Sometimes you have to fight an absolute narcissist. If you don't think so, that's fine, like absolute pacifists who think one should never defend oneself or one's community.

I disagree. Sometimes there's no escaping them. Sometimes walking away puts others you are committed to protecting in harm's way.

This article was about humiliating absolute narcissists. When you don't have to do that heavy lifting, then yes, by all means, walk away.

I agree

"Sometimes walking away puts others you are committed to protecting in harm's way."

No doubt. There are times that you need defend others from the BS. It really depends on the situation and if the other people involved need or want someone to stick up for them. Some people I find extremely narcissistic and annoying are viewed as benign and entertaining by others.

Amen: "Some people I find

Amen: "Some people I find extremely narcissistic and annoying are viewed as benign and entertaining by others."

That's why for 24 years I've posed the question as "What is a total butthead since it can't just be whomever I happen to totally butt heads with?

Allowing Comments

Thanks for allowing comments on your post. Fewer and fewer writers here on Psychology Today are doing it and I can see why. The trolls are getting pushed into smaller zones and their bitter tone is more concentrated. I wouldn't blame you if you stopped giving them a forum for their hostility.

Actually, I need the practice.

I'm grateful for the troll exchanges. I can't pull this kind of advice just out my butt and have it be worth anything at all.

A person with differing views is not a "troll"

If we are to have a free society, and not a dictatorship, then a diverse range of views must be welcomed and encouraged. That someone would think someone with divergent views is a "troll" indicates a form of tyranny.

I commend Dr. Jeremy for being open to differing views.

False Analogy

Psychology Today shouldn't be compared to the society at large. It's a business that's trying to make a profit. A better analogy would be a restaurant owner. The owner of a restaurant might want as many customers as the place to take, but the image of the restaurant will be tainted if decorum is not maintained. I don't blame the writers of articles for Psychology Today for turning off the comments feature. Some of the people have a day job and can't spend hours monitoring the comments.


I'm not sure how many truly narcissistic people I've been around. But, there are plenty of Know it All types. I'm finding if I repeat every put-down back at them, it seems to frustrate them and shut them up. I find this especially fun when a raging relative hurls insults at me and they give up, because who wants an echo of nasty words coming out of their righteous mouths.

I know you are, but what am I?

Attributed to Pee Wee Herman

Indeed. And its reverse: "I

Indeed. And its reverse: "I know I am but what are you?" When it's flattering.

Rebecca Mankey got herself fired with your suggestion

You wrote: "For example, if they play prude, saying, “Don’t be a mean name-caller,” say to the audience, “This fool doesn’t even notice that name-caller is a name".

Sometimes, it's left-wing narcissists that think that Trump supporters minding their own business are the problem, and use the tactics you described.

Rebecca Mankey attempted to humiliate a Trump supporter wearing a MAGA hat at a Starbucks in Palo Alto, California. She tried to get other customers to also attack the man. She ended up embarrassing herself when she called an elderly Jewish man a "Nazi", and embarrassed herself even worse by posting her stupidity on Facebook. Some astute people found her profile, and called her employer. She was soon fired.

Hey Rebecca, play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

I agree. And do you agree that.

. sometimes, it's right-wing narcissists that think that Trump opponents minding their own business are the problem, and use the tactics you described?

I wrote this note this morning that perhaps pertains to your situation:


1. When you find a fault in others it proves you don't have that fault.

2. Whatever you say about what you're doing and not doing is true and people should believe it.

3. Don't let anyone ever disturb your self-confidence. If anyone does, they're clearly at fault.

Also, I'm not sure what lesson you take from Mankey's firing.

I'm guessing you're not a fan of Stalin's left-wing totalitarianism. So imagine you were a citizen of the Soviet Union at the time. Would it follow from your logic that you wouldn't speak out ever because you could get fired?

Fine if you would. There have been lots of people under left-wing and right-wing dictatorships who were afraid to speak out. Many of them proud of their loyalty to the dictatorship. Even proud of their bravery for joining the ranks of those who knew better than to fight their overlords. Even proud to not be snowflakes like those who objected to Stalin.

So maybe that's the moral you mean to take from your tale. If not, maybe explain what you mean by it.

Thanks for wondering with me.

I oppose all dictatorships

Thank you, Dr. Sherman. I oppose all dictatorships, left or right. But I also oppose mob incitement tactics, such as the one Mankey used. That could have gotten the elderly man beaten to death. Yes, these tactics happen on the right as well, but sadly are common on the left. And are especially common female-on-male tactics.

Good. We're on the same page

Good. We're on the same page there. Though I guess you're either trying to remind readers or me that either the left and women do it too. Or maybe that the left and women do it more than the right and men.

I don't think so. Not these days. You may be exposed or hypersensitive to it as imposed on you, but my whole point is to get over that personal hypersensitivity.

If we are to fulfill our civic duty to prevent dictatorship, we must grease our turrets. It can attack from any angle even from inside us. It often attacks as a backlash against where it came from last. Cults breed counter-cults.

I think the key to greasing our turrets is to learn to ignore the content of the crusades so we can keep our eyes open to the underlying fake infallibility universal to all cults. It's not what they believe but how they strut it.

This too, a note I took the other day:

Patriotism isn't pride in yourself for being your country's citizen. It's putting your country before your pride.

I agree with you about total narcissist on the left. I know some who dress theirs up in mindfulness, Buddhism, or radical leftism.

But if you asked me who these days are the ones not putting their country before their pride, I would say that these days it's more of a male/right thing than a female/left thing. Statistically that's born out, IMO and no quantity of warning from personal experience about the potential on the left or among women is either news to me or at all likely to change my impression.

Please keep writing about this subject

The utter lack of self-awareness and extent of projection you have documented in your article about malignant narcissists is astounding.

Will do, sweetheart. And by

Will do, sweetheart. And by all means, keep writing content-free condemnations like this one from your make-believe stature as the world's leading authority. It helps illustrate the substantive case I'm making.

Your welcome

The violent and military language has been duly noted and screenshot so that if anyone is dumb enough to follow your insipid adolescent fantasies such as the Steve Scalise shooter, the courts may be able to trace the source of inspiration to the borderline adultescent who fueled the fire.

You really did go through an analysis? Can you get a refund?

Seriously, you come off like a deranged video game teen with violent fantasies. Get help. From a different set of providers.

Jeremy Sherman can dish it out

but can't take it, hence the deletion of posts that challenge his paranoid worldview and violent fantasies.

Watch him do it again. Internet tough guy. Go for it, crybully.

And stop with the military language. Every reader knows you're a coward who would run away in a face to face conflict.

Look I get it. I'm like this

Look I get it. I'm like this guy See, I like to masturbate. I like to pretend I'm God master of reality just like he does. I identify with superheroes when I'm watching movies, or saints or gangsters, or pacifists as he's playing here. All good fun.

But I don't do it in public and I know it's pretend. Maybe this guy knew it was pretend once. He has forgotten.

Except if he ever got cornered he'd probably pretend he's the court jester: "Wow, can't you even take a joke?"

Circle jerks are fine but between consenting adults.

Be careful about ginning up violence and confrontation

There have been a number of violent attacks against people doing nothing but wearing MAGA hats.

There's a reason PT took your last article down. And PT agrees with your politics.

Hi, thank you for bringing

Hi, thank you for bringing that up. I am careful. See, the current epidemic of absolute narcissism doesn't interest me nearly as much as the phenomenon overall. I'd like us to notice that it needs confrontation in all of its guises masquerading as a crusade for whatever cause.

And the alternative to confrontation? Well, when you get an epidemic of it, trying to stay non-confrontations either for fear, by temperament or in principle will not work.

I'm interested in confrontation that prevents violence. Conflating confrontation with violence will lead to violence, IMO.

It's absolutely unprofessional and irresponsible.

Many people reading this may be in an agitated fragile state or on medication. They don't need advice from some so-called expert that can get them in legal trouble or them or someone else physically injured or killed. You need to stop talking about cutting. It's very borderline.

Brat or prude, punk or pedant

Brat or prude, punk or pedant, child or parent. The problem with these guys is they never want to talk adult to adult.

Safety First

"Many people reading this may be in an agitated fragile state or on medication."

This is an important point. Everyone typing stuff that will end up online should consider that vulnerable people might read what they're typing. I for one will be much more thoughtful that my keystrokes might be read by someone that might face dire emotional or health consequences. Your warning should serve as a public service announcement to all contributors here on Psychology Today.

Hi Jeff,

That's an interesting one at a psych site. To be sure this is where vulnerable minds might flock. At the same time, psychology is a free range research area. You should see the topics that come up here or at a psych conference. Everything about human behavior is fair game. Everything. Heck, the other day I wrote an article here about masturbation!

Safety first for people in this line of research means bringing as much neutrality to the topic as possible knowing that if you don't your peers will kick your ass. The sciences are intensely biased against personal bias. That's its power. And PT has been excellent at giving its writers free range while curbing our natural human tendencies to vent indulgently. I get curbed sometimes, sometimes I think inappropriately (I would think that wouldn't I? ,-)). But I defer to their process and I think they use it very wisely. Nothing worse than someone with credentials opining wildly. All that authority not being earned in real time.

Oh, and PT makes us bloggers say whether our articles are only for adults. Safety first.

Dry Humor

I hope my attempt at humor (sarcasm) wasn't too dry. The Anonymous guy that was trying to chastise you for not being sensitive to vulnerable readers was being absurd. As if a person that was on the brink of acting out would do so after carefully reading the comment section of Psychology Today.

Note to crazy readers. Turn off your computer and get some help. You won't benefit from reading these comments.

In case it escaped your notice

All I am doing is following your expert advice diligently. Without the cutting, of course. What's with the cutting?

Ah! Thank you for clarifying!

This is indeed a problem in dealing with absolute narcissists. Whatever works against them, they'll use mindlessly against their attackers.

If you say "You're not being realistic enough about this." They'll hear something that rings negative and just ape it back. "No, I'm realistic. You're the one who's unrealistic."

At that point you have a deadlock which is already an advantage over their appearance of victory: "Got it. So you think you're more realistic and I think I'm more realistic. How do you propose we decide who's right?" Put the burden on them tand keep it there. Critique their test. You've got them thinking about how to define realism.

Though they'll probably just snark their way out. Another possibility is that you can flip it. "Bear one, I didn't say I was absolutely realistic. I'm happily unrealistic sometimes. Look, I really get it. See, I masturbate too. I pretend that I'm God, master of all reality the way you are. I just don't do it in public the way you do. And I know I'm just pretending.

Effective Strategy?

I'm persuaded by experience that confrontation with an annoying narcissist is not effective. You end up playing his game with no possible benefit to you except maybe to demonstrate that he is lower than you. Unless there is a serious threat to me (unlikely from verbal attack) the best strategy is to walk away.
We are only partially rational (me anyway) with small capacity to control our environment but we can change our environment by withdrawing.
I am disappointed that you find an aggressive response to be appropriate. Does it mean personal satisfaction trumps effectiveness? Do you consider thaT?

So very often in our thinking

So very often in our thinking we say "Not A therefore B," and then are disappointed with people who don't see it that simply.

Morris, you know me better than that. If you think I'm interested in humiliating absolute narcissists to get my jollies off, I don't think you have been reading me as closely as you seemed to be.

Many times I have quoted with respect George Bernard Shaw's summary of your point. "Never fight with pigs. You'll just get dirty and the pig likes it."

That's true as far as it goes. It definitely doesn't go far enough. That's an example of "Not A then B." My point is sometimes A and sometimes B. These one-sided solutions don't work. Never A? Never fight with a pig? I say never say never.

To illustrate why I say sometimes you have to fight with a pig, Imagine writing your comment here in the run up to any dictatorship of your choice, the more sordid the better and I don't care which one you pick. Would you really want to counsel walking away from the conflict? Obviously there are times to fight pigs. Right?

This was an article about how to humiliate absolute narcissists. I've written many other articles in which I've said that the first course of action – if you are defending nothing other than your pride – is to walk away. I do exactly that quite often. And here you assume that the only reason anyone wouldn't walk away is "personal satisfaction"?

It sounds as if you might have been offended but if so that was not my intent. Maybe we are on slightly different topics. My comments were meant to refer to verbal annoynances and arguments or in other words, war of words, not real events.
I am strongly convinced that in our present social climate there seems to be a more or less general acceptance of the "red queen" definition of words and reality. That is unrealistic and leads to a lot of needless conflicts. That is what I meant. I really don't know of real and practical examples of interaction with narcissistic (or so imputed) actions by say a government you disagree with. The conflict is words almost always, barring revolutions.
OK , so that clear but you get my gist.

Other Strategy

Why is this on Psychology Today? These strategies are amateur and seem weirdly emotionally charged. The focus on masturbation? I understand the point, but the writing here is awful.

For the record, there are many useful strategies to combat narcissists. The most effective one I've learned is fake praise. Be extremely complimentary about everything about them, almost like talking to a small child. Compliment everything - looks, the way they talk, clothing, the way they think. If you've ever heard of "love bombing," do this but to an exaggerated degree very quickly, with a patronizing sense of wonder like you are talking to a child. Within the first few minutes, the narcissist will be flattered, but will quickly realize there is something insincere. If the narcissist tries to call you out, don't break character, keep praising them non-stop about everything. Don't admit it to faking it.

What is happening here is you wore the clown-like mask of the exact type of person they want to interact with. When it's obvious you are acting, it's clear you are mocking them. You are playing with them like a bull and a red flag, and you are showing them you are amused by the experience.

Perhaps I didn't explain this well, but try it sometimes. Works all the time. Only suitable if you want a narcissist to stop bothering you.

It's also devoid of tactical real-world context

which Sun-Tzu understood thousands of years ago but out of the reach of modern academics sheltered from accountability.

If the malignant narcissist is your boss or anyone who holds power over you, be prepared for disastrous career or personal consequences of direct confrontation. Sun-Tzu never advocated direct confrontation or attack from an inferior position. Anyone who follows expert Dr. Sherman's advice on a narcissistic boss better have six months salary saved up.

If the person is someone you have to life with, you'll probably be apologizing for weeks even if you thought you were right.

In academia, if this is done publicly, you will be taken to task even if you are right. Direct confrontation in case conferences and seminars of even lousy ideas is frowned upon severely (which is a shame in my opinion since KOLs get away with a lot including the opioid epidemic). We need MORE confrontation in macro academics not less (since there are so many bad ideas) though more civility at a micro level.

There are actually few real-world situations where direct confrontation might be effective.

Fake Praise

I follow and understand the tactic. But, I would never try it. It would likely backfire in the situations I've had with narcissist people I know. These aren't stupid people. They would pick up on the game immediately and milk it. It might be fun to try it with a person that you have limited contact with. Pretending to be impressed with a narcissist goes against my nature. Even imagining praising one of these people is unsettling to me. To be honest . my tactic of acting indifferent to them is a ruse. It's actually phony to pretend they don't matter when they really do annoy me.

Brendan's fake praise strategy

is actually is one of the best in dealing with narcissists who can get you fired.

You can't be playing checkers on a chessboard.

Wow! I am so impressed not

Wow! I am so impressed not just with your writing Brendan but with your far superior, works-every-time solution and your sweeping dismissal of that awful, emotional and illiterate Jeremy Sherman. You really are something!

Jeremy Sherman is right

Walking away sounds nice but it doesn't work.

When you walk away from a narcissist you may be walking away from your seat at the table. You walk away from professional connections, social situations, opportunities for you because a narcissist is making you feel bad. When you leave the narcissist gets to stay and reap the benefits of whatever is going on.

Yes, one does have to call a narcissist on their behavior. Sometimes you can't be nice, play nice, appear nice. If somebody is being a bully why allow them to get away with it?
Narcissists are one trick ponies. They find something that works for them and they repeat it. Take away their bully stick, call them out and they will fall. What might work very well on a 5th grade playground works less well in a conference room filled with intelligent adults. People know what they are dealing with and will appreciate anyone that stands up to a bully.

I deal with narcissists all the time. I don't allow bad behavior. I call people out. Afterward, a narcissist will avoid me or support me. Doing nothing or walking away costs you, not them.

Different Situations

"When you walk away from a narcissist you may be walking away from your seat at the table. You walk away from professional connections, social situations, opportunities for you because a narcissist is making you feel bad."

Different situations require different approaches. If connections and opportunities are at risk most people aren't going to bail out. My assumption in this thread was that the narcissistic person didn't have anything on me and there would be no cost to ignoring them. Add in a potential financial or social cost and my response will be entirely different.

It also doesn't make sense with strangers

unless you know they're unarmed and not dangerous and not skilled. You might get lucky but if you're wrong once you're dead. Even if they're unarmed, you don't know they're skill level. There are plenty of nerds who are advanced in MMA or other fighting techniques. Even if there's no chance of violence, you don't know how smart they are, and you can't assume your debate skills or knowledge of the subject are superior. A lot of PT authors assume they are the smartest person in the room and often get schooled in the comments.

It seems to me what the author is advocating is driving down life's highway in a state of road rage.

This is just Antifa level ninja warrior fantasy.

Ignore this advice on PT and read The Art of War.

Conference Rooms

Mark Twain — 'Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.'

It's been years since I was in a conference room. It's a high-stakes gamble to get into it with a person during a meeting. The narcissistic person you are targeting has skills you might not be ready for. Switching to the victim to get sympathy from the group is a trick I've seen play-out.


Jeff, your comments have made the most sense to me.
My husband had to put up with a bully of a boss, ( Who knows if he was actually a narcissist ). He handled him in the way you advocate. He ignored him, didn't respond to his tantrums and walked away leaving him without an audience.
Most in the company were aware of his behavior. He was disliked by most. He certainly was a pitiful person.

Being Self-Aware

It felt good to read: "Jeff, your comments have made the most sense to me." If I was more of a narcissist I would taken the comment as evidence of how special I am. I did appreciate reading it. (Thanks) The truth is that I didn't always have this skill. I'm over 60 years old. I developed my tactic of acting indifferent to narcissistic people to avoid escalation. My dad was a good guy, but he had a thing about taking assholes down a peg. He could be a rage-aholic. I saw the toll it would take on him. He let narcissistic people get under his skin. I've developed a self-monitoring behavior to avoid becoming like him. I know something is wrong when I feel the sudden urge to punch someone in the face. I'm able to realize this means the narcissistic person is taking up residence in my head. I'm the only one that can control what's happening in my head.

Beating a narcissist

Great tips on what to & what not to focus on when dealing with smoke & mirrors. Love feeling the strength that comes from being human, admitting & allowing mistakes as part of the process. I spend so much time repeating my mistake out loud welcoming correction in hopes the reality there’s no shame in it becomes obvious. Thank you

Several commenters are

Several commenters are identifying other factors. I'm glad of that. There are always other factors. I could list many and have written about lots of them. I make a point with everything I write, to be able to make a counter-argument to it. I make a point of being able to use any answer as a springboard to next questions. I think of this as part of a healthy absolute-narcissism prevention regime.

A PT blog article is supposed to be 700-1000 words. This one is 1600 without covering nearly all I would have liked to cover. So thank you for bringing up some of the other relevant factors.

The spread of comments here is interesting. Some are sweepingly dismissive because of other factors. Some just add them. The difference between either/or and both/and.

Thanks Dr Sherman for Confronting them

Thanks Dr Sherman. This is the first page I have ever seen an expert actually confront non-experts and refuse to concede on facts just to make friends. Sincerely, thank you, and it’s about time PT and all expertise-based websites started doing this. The narc-trolls have been allowed to reign for too long! Disinformation, by foreigners and “patriotic” US corporations, flourishes while narc-trolls dominate these comments-areas. Expertise-based websites have a moral duty to send their authors into battle down here in the comments, and I applaud Dr Sherman for modeling the way of the future. Sincerely, thanks thanks thanks .

Regarding the humiliation of narcs, Western English-speaking culture (think of the “5-Eyes” countries) has created a narcissist-manufacturing stream from our schools. School principals do all the hiring/firing of school teachers, without any knowledge of the subjects they hire-for. That’s complete narcissism, that they think they know more than experts about the subject and can hire the best expert without knowing what it is that the expert knows. And then teachers must follow the orders of the principal non-expert unquestioningly. University Education professors and subject professors refuse to intervene (I have tried with many universities, including George Washington University whose Chancellor directed the music Dean to assist local teachers yet miserably failed).

Children who grow up every day seeing experts and expertise denied, shallowed, ridiculed, and in particular controlled to the last detail under severe threats of firing and economic disaster for the teacher, these children learn that the most important thing of all is to have power, not knowledge. And then we wonder why we live in a society ruled by narcissists.

If folks really, honestly, want to tackle narcissism in our Western societies, then we need to empower our teachers to be able to confidently teach their expertise without threats from admins who know absolutely nothing.

How to Humiliate an Absolute Narcissist

Say this: you are a narcissist. If you are curious about that you can take a test or do a simple google search. For the sake of the rest of us you should do either - immediately. Laugh and walk away,

Hi Bonnie,

I like that. But here's a question that drives my work. I think we're all narcissistic just as I think we all lie and all engage in hypocrisy. If we all do it, what distinguishes a narcissist, liar or hypocrite?

My answer so far builds on the original quote: Power TENDS TO corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Narcissism tends to corrupt. It doesn't always. Sometimes it's necessary, healthy, useful. After all, hope is generally a narcissistically optimistic thumb on the scale of realism.

What interests me, therefore, is absolute narcissism. Narcissism corrupting absolutely.

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