Do Narcissists Know What They’re Doing Is Wrong?

When I first learned how some people in my life had been abusive towards me, I wondered if they were so damaged somehow they couldn’t control their behavior.  Then years later, upon learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I assumed the disorder part meant they were sick & unable to control themselves.  I figured I should be able to let their abuse not affect me because since it’s a disorder, it meant they couldn’t control themselves.  Thankfully I learned the error of my ways! 

I finally started to think about these toxic relationships in my life when suddenly things began to click.  There were similarities with every relationship I’ve ever had with an abuser. 

What they did to me was always done without witnesses.  In front of others, they behaved normally, sometimes even lovingly.  My late mother in-law once introduced me as “her beautiful daughter in-law”.  It was only when we were alone, the abusers would treat me badly. 

And, there was an unspoken rule that I shouldn’t tell anyone.  My mother verbalized the rule by telling me I didn’t need to “air our dirty laundry”, but she was the only one who said it.  Others didn’t, yet somehow I knew telling others would upset them terribly so I shouldn’t do it.   I also knew that my abusers talked badly about me to other people, so there wasn’t a chance I would have been believed if I told anyone anyway. 

I came to realize that these things weren’t just coincidences.  These behaviors were done in order to prevent anyone from learning what these people truly were like.

John 3:20-22 in the God’s word translation of the Bible says, “People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed. But people who do what is true come to the light so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen.”. 

Narcissists may act sometimes as if they don’t know their behavior is wrong, but make no mistake about it.  They know.  That is why they do what they do when there are no witnesses around & even do their best to isolate victims from loving friends or family.  That is also why they force their victims into not telling anyone about what they do.  Narcissists want to be certain that no one finds out how badly they treat their victims, so no one will call them out on their bad behavior or help their victims to escape.

Please do NOT be fooled into thinking narcissists don’t know any better, can’t control their behavior or need people’s mercy because they are mentally sick.  Doing so will result in you tolerating abuse without boundaries.  I know because I did this.  I honestly believed my abusers were incapable of behaving any other way so if I loved them, I should tolerate the abuse.  In fact, I tolerated it for much longer than I should have.  I would like to spare you this pain, so please learn from my mistake!

Personality disorders like narcissism don’t mean a person has a physical problem that renders them incapable of controlling their behavior or knowing right from wrong.  Personality disorders describe a means of dysfunctional behavior rather than a brain that is physically broken that renders a person unable to control their behavior.  This means that narcissists do know right from wrong, barring any injury or disease to their brain that could cripple that in them of course. 

Please never, ever forget this, Dear Reader.  When you’re forced to deal with a narcissist, it is vital that you always remember that they absolutely do know what they’re doing is wrong.  


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

11 responses to “Do Narcissists Know What They’re Doing Is Wrong?

  1. This, to me, is the most important thing that victims of abuse can learn and accept. So many I’ve known are clinging to the falsehood that their abuser is mentally ill and has no control over how they treat others. They spend years trying to find the “cure” that will change their abuser into a normal, loving person. But there is no cure because their abuser isn’t sick. They freely and deliberately choose to hurt others to benefit themselves. They won’t give that up, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process, not even their own children. They go to their graves doing what they’ve always done, and even arrange to continue the abuse from the grave through surrogates they’ve convinced that the victim deserves to be hurt, and through wills and estates. Think about the malice of this drive to hurt another that even persists after death. It’s evil, plain and simple.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I totally agree! The only thing that could make a narcissist become a normal, loving person is for them to want to be that way, which naturally isn’t going to happen. Their behavior benefits them & that’s all they care about. The sooner a person can accept that, the better.

      I wish I could get back the time I wasted trying to make them see the error of their ways & trying to tolerate the abuse because I thought it was beyond their control. I wasted so much time on that.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I have the same regret, that I didn’t see the truth and go NC sooner. I would especially have liked to spare my children ever meeting their abusive family members.


  3. ibikenyc

    OMG YES!

    So often I find myself asking, “How come you’re not screaming at THEM?” (Never loud enough to be heard, of course. I know better. It’s not worth it.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • It seems sometimes that narcissists have a strange sort of power over others that enables them to dictate how others see them. They also seem to be able to commandeer loyalty from people who should know better.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very common for them to act one way in public and a completely different way behind closed doors.

    I know how frustrating it can be when they have already gone ahead of you to tarnish your reputation, that when you go outside the home or away from the person, to tell someone what is going on, they already have an ‘idea’ of ‘what you are like’.

    My mom would always run to her friends or her mother whenever it’s something to do with me, the conversations would be so loud, I would hear every word that was being said.

    Nothing about her behaviour and why I might’ve reacted the way I have.

    I am so happy to know that you finally know the truth about these sorts of people, and that you are now protecting yourself both with your current knowledge and with boundaries being set.


    • It is.. they have very different private & public personas.

      That’s terrible yet not surprising! They are quick to share what you did but not what they did to make you act that way. Pretty sure if there was a narcissist playbook, it’d be on one of the very first pages..

      Thank you! It sounds like you too have learned the truth. It really will set you free won’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed so. I am grateful that I learned the truth when I did, because I tried to commit suicide. I didn’t go as far as many people have, but each time the abuse would carry on. My fear of death and committing suicide diminished…

        The more I learned about these individuals, the more I wanted to take my power back. I wasn’t born to make another person send me to my grave too early, I was born to heal people through any way that I can, and I am determined to walk in that direction 🌹


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