Knowing the Narcissist : The Smiling Assassin



We are masters of the back-handed compliment, the flattery which is actually a form of provocation, the kings of seemingly pleasant comments which are really put downs. We appear with that radiant and broad smile as we then slip a stiletto knife between your ribs with deft ease.

Nobody else sees us do this. It appears to everyone else, as we stand there with our false smile plastered across our faces, that we are giving you a loving hug. Our outside appearance to the world and the maintenance of our façade remains intact as we slip through your defences and land a blow against you.

We revel in seeing you smiling in return, your eyes lighting up with delight at our benign manner towards you only then for you to realise the import of what we have actually said. As the metaphorical dagger pierces your skin, you realise that is actually meant by what we have said to you. It appeared as a compliment but in actual fact we have told you something which will trouble you, upset you or anger you. Your eyes narrow with confusion and we see that look of uncertainty cross your face as you cannot quite believe what is happening.

Did you hear what we said correctly? Have you misinterpreted the comment that we made? Did we really just say that? We can see how you are torn between wanting to accept the supposed compliment and then that sinking sensation as you realise that we have just made a barbed comment which appeared to be a pleasant one.

The look on your face is akin to the look of bewildered astonishment that one might see on a wildebeest as it is brought to ground by a hungry lion and is eaten alive from behind. It cannot quite comprehend what is happening and neither can you.

What makes it worse is that to everyone else we appear to smiling, hugging you and being pleasant. You want to react. You want to push us away from you. You want to chastise us, lash out and reprimand us for what we have just said, but the way that we framed this back-handed compliment means that you would appear mean, ungrateful and churlish if you did so.

Just as we remain close to you, holding you, dagger still lodged between your ribs as we slowly twist it, you can do nothing but remain where you are as everyone else looks on thinking that we are being pleasant to you. We know that because you are a decent and pleasant person you are conditioned to accept the compliment and not rail against it, even when you realise that it is actually hurtful. This allows us to see just how strong our control over you is. If you react to the barbed comment and lash out at us, crying or shouting at us for our remark, then we gain fuel.

If you remain silent and confused by it, unable to mask your hurt and disappointment, we still gain fuel but we also derive a significant indication of our power over you. We are able to make a hurtful remark seem like a compliment and have you accept it. This is a useful way for us to put you down whilst appearing to be pleasant. It also allows us to reinforce our perceived superiority over you through the application of this control. This technique also utilises our favoured mechanism of plausible deniability.

There is a degree of ambiguity whereby if you attempted to pin the blame on us for precisely what we have intended to say, we would be able to reject that assertion. We are able to accuse you of reading too much into it, twisting our words and over-reacting. All favourite methods of rejecting you intended blame and of stoking the emotional fires further. We can feign hurt by stating we were paying you a compliment and you have taken it the wrong way. Again.

We then want you to apologise, soothe us and feel guilty for trying to suggest that we would do anything other than be pleasant to you. Of course, this technique where we come with smiles as we plunge our critical knife into you, is one which we revel in deploying and is just part of our arsenal that is designed to mess with your thinking. Did we say what you thought we said?

What did we really mean from that comment? Are you in fact over-analysing it or should you trust your initial judgement here? All of these factors unsettle, confuse and undermine you, eroding your confidence and clouding your judgement. It is all par the course and entirely why we behave as smiling assassins. There are numerous ways this is done and here are seven of the often used back-handed provocations.


  1. Condescend

We will talk to you in a condescending tone for the purposes of belittling you, making you feel inferior and causing us to look far better by comparison. We offer unwanted advice, talk to you from the position of always knowing what is right and what is best. Of course, should you challenge this overly paternalistic approach to the way we deal with you we will point out that we only want what is best for you, that we are only trying to help you and do have your best interests at heart. Is it a crime to do that for you?

  1. Insider Jokes

We will engage in making comments which cause members of our devout coterie to laugh and giggle but you are left in the dark as to what is so funny. We will use terms that amuse us and our followers considerably but seem meaningless to you. This will make you feel uncomfortable and isolated and if you should commence some kind of protest we will point out that we have not involved you because you would be bored by the silliness (thus inferring you have no sense of humour but making it seem as if you are above our schoolboy sniggering and this is a good thing) or that you would not be interested in our style of humour because you are too highbrow for such base comments and observations.


  1. Our Ex

We will repeatedly mention that our ex is still in love with us, indeed he or she still tries to contact us and they leave messages and have telephoned us a few times. Of course we tell you that you have no need to worry because that was in the past and we are with you now, you are the person that matters. This is designed to make it appear like we can brush aside the presence of our ex because we are in love with you. In fact, although it sounds like this, we use it as a means of securing carte blanche for mentioning the ex on many occasions so it unsettles you. Of course you are hamstrung from saying anything because that would make you seem insecure and you do not want to show that this is true. Thus we feel free to keep making mention of our ex and continue to triangulate them with you.


  1. Ignoring You

We ignore you and dole out a silent treatment with all of the fuel providing and control ramification which arise from this particular manipulation. Should you even begin to protest we point out that we are so glad we are with you because you understand our need for space and some time to ourselves. This appears like a compliment and is designed to flatter you into allowing us to keep doling out these silent treatments as and when we want in order to ignore you because we can then focus on gaining fuel from other parties when we are apart from you.


  1. The Ex Again

We talk incessantly about the qualities of the ex, highlighting all of their many wonderful attributes (which of course is a sudden change from when we were calling them demon spawn when we first seduced you but that’s all changed now). We babble on about how marvellous they are, the funny things they said, how beautiful they looked, the achievements they secured and so on before telling you that we are so pleased that you are so understanding that we can talk about past relationships with you. This supposed compliment restricts you from commenting adversely but we know that inside you are fuming and desperate to reprimand us in some way. How we delight in knowing this and seeing your trying to maintain a pleasant smile when inside we know you are dying.

  1. Flirtation

We flirt shamelessly and we know you see us doing this. We also know how it hurts and angers you but we fire a compliment your way by telling you that it is refreshing to be with someone who allows us to be ourselves, someone who is not jealous and someone who is so trusting. These compliments are designed to keep you quiet as we get on with doing what we please. We draw fuel from those we flirt with and all the while we keep casting backward glances to the trusting you seeing the gathering anger in your eyes.


  1. Spending Time with Others

We spend time with other people. It may be chatting someone up in the bar, hanging out with our friends, chasing down new prospects, wowing the crowd at a work function and so on. This blatant fuel-gathering is crucial to us and when we wander in later after our third consecutive night out we head you off at the pass by praising you by saying how lucky we are to have someone who understands that because they get all of our attention most of the time, we need to be able to spend some time with other people. Once again, this comment is designed to back you into a corner and have you standing, arms crossed and fuming, teetering between our control and providing us with even more fuel.

10 thoughts on “Knowing the Narcissist : The Smiling Assassin

  1. annaamel says:

    Last night I watched (for the first time) The Bourne Identity, which I liked a lot, but I have a question about Bourne. HG, I’m hoping you can clarify.

    Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen it and plan to do so.

    I can understand it’s hard to make an assassin a sympathetic character and yet doing so gives films a wider appeal.

    Bourne was trained at a cost of 30 million to be a killing machine and yet he failed in a planned mission simply because the target had children with him, who Bourne is affected by. His hesitation would be understandable if he hadn’t been trained (effectively programmed) to the degree he had been but would he have even been selected or his training continued had this empathetic weakness been detected, which it doubtless would have been during recruitment?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hollywood does not like to show children being killed. Either the programme would have identified this weakness and rejected him for the programme or sought to programme this out of him.

      1. Rebecca says:

        My dad told me, that people who qre trained in programs, like the Navy Seals, arent usually empathic people, theyre more likely analogical thinking people and he said, high risk takers and have impulse triggers. Sounds like to me, he was desceipting a psychopath. So would psychopaths fit the bill more for a Navy Seal type and they look for that type, unknowingly?? Navy Seals are looked at as Heros in America and im one of them, who feels that way about them. …. I meant describing a psychopath, cant change typo without the whole paragraph being deleted. Xx
        Realistically Bourne would have been either a Narcissist or a Psychopath, or both….according to my dad. Was my dad correct, HG?? Xx

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Use Know the Narcissist.

        2. annaamel says:

          Thank-you, HG.

          Rebecca, your Dad probably had a good point about people who are not held back by fear taking on high risk roles.

          But I’ve watched all the Jason Bourne films now and he’s not a psychopath or a narcissist. There are other characters in all the films who’d probably fit those labels, but Bourne has empathy, he feels remorse, guilt – the whole range of emotions – even if he is understandably numbed by his experiences and losses.

          Bourne initially volunteered because he wanted to do good, but his altruism was exploited and he was manipulated and conditioned by his training to behave in a less than altruistic way.

          1. Rebecca says:

            Hi Annaamel,
            I recall the character, Bourne, showing empathy in the movie, but HG has said before that the movies usually get it wrong with behaviors of people and how they’d really act , if they were real, like Christian Bale’s character in ‘American Psycho’. HG said, that character’s behavior wasnt accurate and I don’t believe Bourne’s behavior was accurate either, though I could be wrong because he was lied to by the Programmers of the Special Unit he was trained in and belonged to, to get him to sign up and think he was doing good, when in fact he was just a trained assasin for a Special Military Unit. The writers gave him emotional empathy, so he’s not a psychopath, nor narc. That leaves either, empath, narcissistic or normal. Interesting to try to figure out characters in movies. Xx

          2. annaamel says:

            Bourne struck me as a normal, Rebecca. It could be that the writers wanted to imply that what happened to him can happen to anyone.

          3. Contagious says:

            My son wanted to be a Navy Seal but chose to be a front line kick in the door marine. It’s weird. I consulted HG as how could my loving loyal compassionate ideal oriented logical smart boy be trained to be a super killer. Let me tell you they train them until their feet literally bleed. Comfort is not a word in their vocabulary. Simulations, fire guns , bombs, every weapon are a norm. Funny story they did a war drill and his platoon leader asked each marine which weapon would use use to defeat the enemy. One said bombshell. One suggested a sniper. One fire guns. When it came time for my son, he answered “ my mind.” I consulted HG. HG assured me the military was not creating a psychopath. Gene/ environment create a psychopath or narc not the military. I will give you two examples that confirm this: upon turning home from Iraq where he was bombed. My son felt uncomfortable with anyone saying “ thank you for your service.” He said “mom … there is no war. I haven’t done anything.” And I said “ son, they know you exist. They know you are here for us. The reason there is no war baby is because young men like you sign up and train. And they know you are WELL trained. Otherwise we would be Russia or Chinas bitch.” It sunk in. The second example is despite being bombed in Iraq….. And he called me after the bimbing in from Iraq. I said “ were you scared?” He said “ sure, my adrenaline was up but we are trained to run towards danger not away from it.” But once home he spoke of the poverty he saw and inferior weapons, he said guys in trucks with old shotguns are the enemy that tried to cross the embassy to kill us.” He spoke of the wonderful people he met in Iraq who helped them. He disdained those who say things like “ let’s kill some sand niggers.” Yes they exist in the military too. What I have learned is that the military is a microcosm of civilian life. There are jobs from actors to gas station attendants and personalities vary too, ie narcs, empaths etc…. My son was chosen of two to be of highest rank in his class. I could tell he struggled not to cry when they pinned his metal on. He is popular and well liked and respected. He is more logical then me but with great compassion. He would kill in combat but he would be the man you would want by your side. I asked him about narcs in the military. it’s a brotherhood. You won’t do well if you forget that. Might find yourself in a ditch. This idea that those without empathy would do better doesn’t fit with team mentality and it takes a team. Maybe with Avoiding PTSD being a narc would be better. Idk maybe narcs get ptsd too. I asked him about women and kids that used with bombs against soldiers…and it greatly unsettled him as you have your brothers or family to protect but you don’t want to hurt the innocent. He hoped he was never given this choice but he was WELL aware that those “ cocksuckers” did that. Put innocents at risk. Whatever you think about our men and women who fight for our country… imagine if they didn’t exist. Despite weapons of mass destruction, droids, AI, we will need boots on the ground if we want our lives. And God bless them! And while I am very open minded, nonjudgemental, any one who dares call the military a bunch of psychopaths, not that anyone here did, I hope they find themselves in a country with no military to protect them. There are teens who die just in training like in Austrailia when a plane went down and I waited on baited breath to find out who as my son was stationed there. Training is dangerous. Our numbers are down to in the US. Less join. Again God Bless our men and women who serve!

          4. Contagious says:

            One more thing. My son told all his friends not tell me about the embassy being bombed as he didn’t want to upset me. Of course I saw it, it was all over the news! Empathy! And he called me after to let me know he was ok as I was calling his friends worried about his safety. Empathy! And I speak of brotherhood. My son is with mostly men in that riflemen or marines in that position are by majority men but I respect our women too! In fact I asked my son why there were no women in his photos. He said “although he grew up in a family of strong women who he respected and he had no probable having a women in his platoon. He said she has to be equal. “ she must be able to carry a 250 pound man a half mile to safety. If she can do it, fine. But it’s life or death no exceptions. Man or woman.” Fair enough.

          5. annaamel says:

            I’d find it very difficult to have a child in the armed forces, Contagion. I can appreciate that it’s not easy for you but you’re managing it incredibly well and the empathy of your son both for you and for others would no doubt help enormously. As a parent letting children live their own lives how they choose is probably one of the biggest challenges and learning experiences. Accepting them as a completely individual person. You’re clearly doing that and it’s great we have soldiers like your son to participate when needed.

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