The Narcissist’s Need For Recognition


“Do you know who I am?”

A sentence often issued by the floundering Z-list celebrity who is trying to cross the velvet rope and be admitted to a special event or the VIP area of a club or restaurant. The demand to be recognised so that special treatment is afforded and it is expected as of right. This is a sentence which may as well be playing on a loop through our minds, each day and every day, because no matter what situation we are in, who we are with and where we find ourselves we expect to be recognised. It is not the recognition of our name, putting the name to the face and understanding who we are in that sense. It is the appreciation of our standing as special and important individual. A person who is better than you, better than him or her or them. This desire to always be recognised for how remarkable we are, that our treatment should always be preferential to that of anyone else is something that is always with us.

When we rise in the morning and we open our eyes, our gaze falling on your besides us, do you know who we are? Why are you not doing something which accords with my status? You ought to be awake. You should be attending to me, providing me with fuel as soon as my eyes open. Why are you not doing this? Do you not understand how important I am? Make me feel important? A slight push on your shoulder and you mumble. Another gentle push and your eyes open and as your vision comes into focus you see us looking at you and generous soul that you are you smile, your eyes brighten and you place a hand on our arm. The first fuelled flames of the day begin to rise as you have recognised how important we are.

Over breakfast we demand that you know who we are? Our favourite food ought to be ready. Oh good, you have done so. It is clear how much you think of us to ensure that our desired cereal or fried breakfast is ready and waiting for us. You have recognised our need and through this gesture you have reinforced our importance. Of course there will be no thanks given to you automatically. Why should we do so? After all, this is what is expected of you. Through word, gesture and deed you are expected to recognise our brilliance throughout the day. This is crucial to our existence. In our minds a fanfare plays as we walk down the stairs. The children line up to pay homage to the kind as he sweeps into the kitchen. Even the dog should sit obediently and recognise that a prince amongst men has entered the room. We feel magnanimous, already fuelled by your first gesture and the receipt of several praising messages on our secreted phone which we checked as we busied ourselves in the bathroom. We pat the children on the head and give you a kiss on the cheek. See how generous we are? How fortunate are you to be the recipients of such spending golden glory. Do you know how many people want to look upon us, to reach out and touch us, their trembling fingers brushing against our clothing and skin. Do you know who we are?

As we exit the house and see a neighbour we expect recognition but there is none forthcoming. Rather than regard this as an oversight, the neighbour was looking at his roses rather than at us, we are irritated by this failure to recognise us and there is the slightest of wounds caused by this criticism. The first knot of fury unloosens and we are about to call out across the street to gain his attention and ensure that due homage is paid to us when our mobile ‘phone rings and we see it is a friend, a member of the inner circle who is calling. Our expectation of further recognition rises with this telephone call and it does not disappoint.

In our world we are the monarch striding through his kingdom, making his Grand Progress. We process and expect all around to bow, to curtsey, to doff caps and tug forelocks in a demonstration of fealty and worship. The lesser of our kind are not aware of this need like we greaters. The lesser cannot bear to suffer being ignored, not made to feel special or noticed. They do not know this is what they cannot bear, they just know the restlessness, the irritation and then the fury as the criticism mounts. They see nothing wrong in banging their cutlery on the table to gain attention. Should you ever challenge that behaviour and point out that they are attention-seeking, they lose sight of the issue being pointed our because your challenge in itself is a failure to recognise the lesser’s elevated status and all talk of attention-seeking will be lost as he or she lashes out at you in order to achieve fuel from you. The mid-range of our kind and especially the greater know that we want to be recognised, we know that the irritation and then the fury comes from the failure to pay heed to how special we are. It need not be anybody telling us as such, it need only be an appreciate nod of recognition or a warm-natured “hello” but to us that equates to recognition of our elevated status. Of course, should our achievements and accomplishments be lauded as they ought to, then this is even better.

In our world homage must be paid by all those we come into contact with and repeatedly by those who are closest to us. A failure to do so, however slight, will result in the issuing of a criticism against us. The outcome is the ignition of our fury with us lashing out, doling out a silent treatment or withdrawing. This is why you can be sat in a beautiful field on a sunny day, having enjoyed a walk by the river and now a picnic and all of a sudden a barbed comment comes out of nowhere. You do not understand where it has come from but it is likely to have been the fact that you offered the butter to somebody before us and in turn failed to recognise us. I know you regard such behaviour as petty, but that is all it takes for the irritation to manifest. It can easily be assuaged by the prompt application of fuel rather than annoying us further by asking where on earth did that come from and challenging us further. I know you will regard such a state of affairs as ridiculous, I have heard it many times, but that is the way we have been created and of course, even though we never tell you what it is, we expect you to recognise it.

21 thoughts on “The Narcissist’s Need For Recognition

  1. mollyb5 says:

    “Cock of the walk”….

  2. Kelly Morton says:

    Living with a narcissist for 15 years (and yes we have one a child together amd I have 3 from previous marriage ) I have somehow with extensive therapy I may add , have learned to free myself from the grips of his control .. Lots of work .. Lots of mental and emotional pain .. I have taught myself over the years how to sheild my mind .. 2 mental hospitals and over a year of everyday sessions with my therapist , I have learned how to block him .. I put up this sheild , I know how to cope with him because of our daughter I have to deal with him still .. Only about her and thats it . I have grown stronger to his ways of manipulation and his tactics of playing mind games .. Ive learned to release .. I have learned to forgive him .. FORGIVE NOT FORGET !!!! Now I have moved on with my life and my daughter has been a victim to his ways , she knows what’s up but in tje process she has been broken as well my his manipulation and lies .. She has very strong empathy .. Her spirit is becoming more and more weakend and she is now old enough to finally put her foot down and make her own choice to break free .. She has decided on her own by the way to leave his house and live with me .. My prayers are finally being answered.. I am the only person she will talk to about her issues with his lies bribery manipulatio and so forth . she loves her father dearly and I dont tell her not to love him . I dont want my child to leave his side just on a whim he is wealthy enough to five her anything her little heart desires but being an extreme empath like myself she does NOT want all that material bullshit . at 16 all she wants is peace of mind .. ..

  3. Christine says:

    Today, my father demanded to know why there wasn’t potato salad.

    “You wanted potato salad? You didn’t ask for it.”
    “You should have known I would want it.”

    He’s never asked for potato salad. He’s always thought everyone should read his mind, but he used to be able to hide the truth behind manipulations. Alcoholic dementia has destroyed the mask.

    This is where you’ll end if you don’t stop drinking btw, HG. Any narcissist who drinks heavily will become severely alcoholic, because they believe they’re more powerful than alcohol. Even when throwing up nine times a day. Even when refusing to shower for a year. Even when treating their bed like a toilet. It’s a deeply disgusting state. I don’t expect to get through to you about this in the slightest, of course.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I don’t drink heavily.

    2. Anm says:

      That’s freakin’ insane. Your father sounds like a Lesser Narc, and I feel for you. My daughter’s father is an Upper Lesser, and I hope she doesn’t feel like she has to get the one to clean up the messes from his mistakes one day.

      1. Christine says:

        He used to be Upper Mid, but alcohol eats away at the brain. He used to be highly intelligent, and now he is… not. He can’t even pretend to reason any longer. It’s a phenomenally weird situation, because in some ways it’s simply the dropping of a mask, but in others he truly is a different person.

        He has no real power now, and doesn’t even have the energy to throw screaming, sobbing, self-pitying tantrums any more. My husband and I are pretty sure he’s intentionally making his health worse to hurt us, particularly me, but of course that hurts him far worse. He’s trying to punish me for not being the dumping ground for his emotions any longer, but *shrug*. Faking Grey Rock for a while made it true.

        I’m only in this situation now because it was that or lose my whole family (except my husband.) My father used to be immensely charming (he can still charm doctors), and he twisted everyone into thinking he was a great guy with just this little alcohol problem that couldn’t be his fault anyway, poor thing. Everyone but my mother, who divorced him but is still a doormat, and his own mother, who was my protector but died years ago. It’s not going to last long — he’s declining fast, entirely through his own efforts.

        1. Anm says:

          How old is your father, and what age would you say he started decompensating?

          1. Christine says:

            He’s 67. I actually wasn’t around him or talking to him much for a period of time, when he was with his second wife. I think it started when he got an excellent job, a lovely house, and his second wife believed in him again. That would be when he was about 55. This great life was boring for him, and so he had to smash it up. It was actually the fourth time he’d done it; he’s gotten more chances than most people could dream of.

            When I look back, the signs of his descent started after his mother died — his mother had been the only one able to reign him in at all. He’s also always been utterly unable to accept aging. Of course, he uses “I’m old” as the excuse for all his health problems when his friends are still healthy and active. Otherwise he’d have to admit he couldn’t magically avoid the effects of drinking a fifth of vodka a day.

          2. Anm says:

            That is interesting, Christine. My ex is 49. I met him when he was 44. He had a falling out with his family, especially his sister. He blew off the reason why, when I questioned him. This was before I knew he was a narcissist or what narcissism meant. As our relationship went on, I noticed he was really malignant and sadistic. After we split up, I contact his sister and asked what the real reason they parted ways. She straight up said it is because her brother (my ex) is a narcissist, the she believes he is decompensating, and will only get worst with age. I asked her when she believe he started going down hill, she also said it was around the time their mother passed away-I didn’t think much of that information until you just mentioned that fact about your father. My ex went from being the cool/charming narcissist, to an angry/old man/fuddy fuddy narcissist. My daughter is 2. I would like to get full custody of her before he is 67, like your father.

  4. baileykaren2011 says:

    So I can irritate him by seeing him out and purposely ignoring him?

    1. HG Tudor says:


  5. J.G THE ONE says:

    Hello, H.G. Tudor.
    Speaking of recognition, this reminds me of a very famous joke in Spain. And I don’t know, if it will be understood in English but at least I’m going to try to transcribe it, Maybe I’ll wake up some smile in the readers…

    At the Puerta del Sol, (Madrid) with a Seat 600, a very small car. And after half an hour, I park that car in a forbidden street, and there could not even pass the fantastic car … A million cars behind this small vehicle.
    And the Civil Guard arrives (Spanish Police)
    And the policeman says: Please… You have parked here very badly.
    And he says: You shut up, coward, you don’t know who I am!
    The policeman comes down and says to a colleague: Who will this man be?
    And he says again to the policemen: You shut up, you don’t know who I am! Cowards….
    And the captain of the police approached him and told him before he spoke…. You shut up too, you don’t know who I am!
    And the captain says to him: Who are you? But before we say it, let’s go to the police station.
    There was the sergeant, with some very fat glasses making a sum of the fine and says to him: Do not see, what you the great traffic jam that has produced that has come, up to the Cibeles. It will not save you from the fine nor “Perry manson”… Coward
    And this man tells you: You shut up, you don’t know who I am!!!!!
    And the sergeant says to him: And who are you? that you are silencing everybody.
    And this good man says to him: I am a councilman, of CUENCA (a city of Spain).
    And the sergeant tells him: You don’t know that a councilman from Cuenca, here in Madrid, is shit!
    And says the man : And in Cuenca also ………

    1. marinathemermaid3 says:

      You’re right. I don’t get it, but I’m an American.

      1. J.G THE ONE says:

        Hello, marinathemermaid3, I thought so ajjjajajajaj.
        In synthesis it speaks of the perception that this man had of himself. Of the importance, the renown and recognition, for being a political office of public election of a city council.
        These positions are of no importance, for anyone here in Spain. Well, they are positions that last only one legislature and can be dismissed at any time. For political posts in progress.
        And Cuenca is also a city of third category, because it is very small and has little population.
        It’s normal that you don’t understand it, the Spanish sense of humour is a thing that characterizes us, we make a joke about anything. This character is like paella, and the sun. If we didn’t have this humour this wouldn’t be Spain. Spain is different.

  6. veronicajones1969 says:

    This is where I always end up getting on the wrong side of narcissists I will treat them to the best of my ability but I don’t see them as above me and so the malignant hoovering the begins

    1. marinathemermaid3 says:

      They are not above you. They are beneath you.

    2. mommypino says:

      Veronicajones, I’m the same. I’m not good at fake sucking up. I can’t give a compliment that doesn’t come from the heart and I don’t treat people above others just because of their status or wealth, they have to earn that from me. I don’t classify people on hierarchy.

  7. aMANda SnapQueen4 says:

    my greater narc just called me to tell me what new job position he had. Why da fuck do you think I care?

    I need to go no contact. I have been saying that. I need to do it NOW.

  8. Sniglet says:

    Every time an ex-narc of mine was angry with me he would ask me “do you know who I am?” or “who do you think you are”? His angry face and those words made for a funny combination which made me laugh. Loved it!! 🙂

    1. marinathemermaid3 says:

      If it makes you laugh, then cheers to you! Let the bastard go!

  9. WhoCares says:

    Yes, of course; how dare I forget about him…

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