There are some people who believe that narcissists dumb. Too dumb to realize what they are doing is hurtful, too dumb to know any better, that sort of thing. Covert narcissists in particular will act the part well even though the truth is they are far from dumb. Many are extremely intelligent but hide it by being very good at playing dumb.
Playing dumb works very well for narcissists. People learn not to expect much from them, because if they aren’t smart, they won’t know what to do or how to do things. This means these narcissists can relax while others do for them without complaint.
Narcissists who convince others they are dumb also can get away with pretty much any behavior because people think they don’t know any better. They can do something hurtful, then claim they didn’t know what they did would hurt the victim or they didn’t realize that what they did was wrong. Since narcissists are convincing actors, they may even shed a few tears. As a result, their victim will feel they are wrong for being upset with the narcissist, & forgive them for whatever they did. My late mother in-law did this one. She used to go through my purse if I left it unsupervised. Once, she left money in it. It felt to me like she was doing that so I’d let her keep snooping through my purse, & I was livid. When my husband confronted her, I overheard her saying she had no idea I’d be upset by that. She said she just had all this extra cash lying around & she didn’t know what else to do with it. She acted as if she was hurt that I was upset with her. She appeared to be the victim in this situation & I was looked at badly for being angry at her.
Someone who isn’t smart would not have come up with handling a situation in this way.
If you ever have doubts that the narcissist in your life truly isn’t very smart or is unaware of just how bad their behavior is, then think about it for a few minutes. Try not to let your emotions get involved. Simply think about what this person does & how they do things. Does the narcissist in your life behave one way when you two are alone & very differently when someone else is with you two? That proves he or she knows what they’re doing is wrong. Someone who truly doesn’t know their actions are wrong won’t try to hide them. Is this person manipulative, able to get others to do whatever they like? Does this person say they don’t know how to do something when you know perfectly well that they do know how to do it or things that are much more complicated? These are signs that the narcissist is smart. No one can be stupid yet highly manipulative. It takes intelligence & the ability to read & understand people to be manipulative.
The next time you are forced to deal with a narcissist who acts as if they just don’t know any better or they didn’t realize their actions were hurtful or wrong, don’t believe the act. True narcissists do know what they are doing, & they do what they do because it gets them what they want. They aren’t naïve about their behavior. The truth is that sometimes they don’t care that their actions hurt others & other times they get great pleasure out of hurting others. That isn’t naiveté. That is evil.