If you have a narcissist in your life, no doubt that you have had the unpleasant experience of telling that person that you are sick only to have them not believe you. I certainly have. I can’t count how many times my mother didn’t believe me that I had the flu or some sickness. She didn’t even believe I was injured when clearly I was limping or bruised. In fact, after she threw me into a wall when I was 19 & I had back pain for the next 10 years, she deliberately would hand me heavy items, smack me in the back & tell people I was faking the injury.
Does any part of my story sound familiar to you? I would guess it does. It’s so upsetting & frustrating, isn’t it? Even if you don’t care what this person thinks of you, it’s hurtful knowing they actually think you’d be capable of lying, let alone about something as serious as your health. It also can be difficult because if the narcissist is talented enough at gaslighting, you may start to doubt yourself & believe what the narcissist says. I know, it sounds hard to believe, but it can happen. I had plenty of times where I wondered if my mother was right, & I really was faking my back injury.
I used to wonder why this happens. Why don’t narcissists believe people when they say they’re sick or injured? Eventually, I think I figured it out.
As anyone who knows anything about narcissism knows, narcissists lack empathy. If another person is sick or injured, they simply couldn’t care less. So what if someone is suffering? It doesn’t affect the narcissist, so it doesn’t matter to the narcissist. If they can convince a person that they truly aren’t sick or injured, maybe the person will stop “bothering” the narcissist with their complaints & problems.
There is also the attention factor. Narcissists expect to be the center of attention at all times. If someone is sick or injured, other people will care. Their attention will be on the patient, not the narcissist. This is a problem for any narcissist. If they can convince others that the patient isn’t really sick or injured, they may be able to divert all attention back to themselves.
Along the lines of getting attention is the fact that many narcissists will exaggerate or even outright fake illness or injury for attention. Not long before the last time I spoke to my mother, she had a trip to the emergency room. Suddenly she was violently sick to her stomach one day, & my father called an ambulance. It turned out simply to be vertigo. Highly annoying, yes, but not serious. A few hours at the emergency room, & she was home again. When I spoke to her that last time, she mentioned how she “was in the hospital.” That comment made it sound much more serious than it actually was, didn’t it?
There are also those who will make themselves sick or hurt themselves in order to gain attention from their loved ones & from medical staff. Munchausen Syndrome is what that is called.
I believe that because some narcissists will fake or exaggerate their own health issues or even harm themselves, they believe other people do the same. Narcissists tend to see everyone as alike. They expect other people to do the exact same things that they do, so if they will fake problems, it’s only natural to them to assume that other people will do the same. They can’t seem to comprehend that other people don’t act like they do.
The next time the narcissist in your life doesn’t believe you about being sick or injured, I hope you will remember this post. Their lack of belief is their problem, & it has nothing to do with you at all.