How To Use Reverse Psychology On A Narcissist?

Learn how to use reverse psychology on a narcissist and flip the script. And regain your control and balance in your interactions with them.

Dealing with a narcissist isn’t easy, but getting a grip on their actions can help you manage their mind games.

One trick is reverse psychology – saying and suggesting the opposite of what you really want.

Narcissists often can’t resist going against others to show they’re on top, so they might just do what you want.

But watch out, this method can backfire if the narcissist realizes you’re trying to manipulate them.

So, so that they don’t find out, let’s explore the what is reverse psychology and how to use it on narcissists.

Reverse Psychology 101

Reverse psychology is a psychological technique of recommending a behavior that is opposite to the one desired, with the expectation that this will encourage the subject to do what actually is desired.

In plain words, if you want a certain outcome, you suggest the opposite of what you want. Often, when you push for the exact opposite of what you really want, it sways the person to do what you want.

Do you know of the well-studied theory called self-fulfilling prophecy?

How To Use Reverse Psychology On A Narcissist

Using reverse psychology on a narcissist can be a complex and delicate process because of their unique thinking and behavior patterns. To do so, you may first need a deep understanding of their desires and expected reactions.

Narcissists often seek admiration and validation, so suggesting the opposite might motivate a narcissist to prove you wrong, thereby achieving you what you want.


For example, if you want a narcissist to admit to their mistake, you might praise their perfection and flawlessness, which can lead them to make them show their humble side by owning up to the mistake.

However, this approach requires subtlety and caution, as narcissists can react negatively to what they perceive as criticism or manipulation.

Remember, your aim is to positively influence them for their benefit, not to play them for personal gain.

Consider their individual context and ethics when using reverse psychology as this tactic can lead to more issues if used wrongly or with malicious intent.

Understanding Narcissism and Reverse Psychology

Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, a lack of empathy for others, and a need for admiration.

Narcissists find it difficult to take criticism and can be overbearing and manipulative, using others to further their own goals.

Reverse psychology is a persuasion tactic in which a person is induced to adopt a certain belief or behavior by being presented with an idea or suggestion opposite to it.

[What Happens When A Narcissist Knows You Love Him/Her]

Applying Reverse Psychology with Narcissists: Challenges and Opportunities

Narcissists are notoriously hard to manage because they’re resistant to considering other perspectives; however, this very trait can make reverse psychology an effective technique.

Challenges may arise when the narcissist becomes aware of this manipulation. They might feel attacked or react defensively, which can escalate the situation.

On the positive side, opportunities arise with their natural inclination to assert their autonomy and superiority.

For instance, a clever use of reverse psychology could present an idea in a way that allows the narcissist to believe it was their own, fulfilling their desire for dominance and self-importance.

Find out: How do narcissists treat their ex?

Practical Applications and Case Studies

Consider a scenario where a narcissist insists on making rash business decisions that may lead to negative outcomes.

Instead of openly disagreeing, you can say “You’re probably right, it’s not like our competition has ever taken such a bold move.”

By agreeing and subtly introducing a competitive aspect, the narcissist may rethink their decision to assert their superiority.

Another case study involves a narcissistic family member who refuses to attend family therapy.

Instead of pressuring them to go, youe could say, “Maybe therapy isn’t meant for everyone. It takes a lot of courage and self-awareness to benefit from therapy.”

By challenging their courage and self-awareness, the narcissist might be more inclined to attend therapy to prove they possess these attributes.

Dealing with Possible Backlash

It’s crucial to tread lightly while employing reverse psychology, as narcissists can react aggressively to perceived threats or manipulation.

Always prioritize self-safety and balance this strategy with other methods like setting clear boundaries, practicing self-care, and consulting a mental health professional as required.

Advanced Tactics and Practice

Narcissists possess a grandiose view of themselves. This means they have an inflated sense of their own worth and importance.

They also lack empathy for others, and can be extremely insensitive when getting people to do something for them or criticizing others for not playing by the narcissist’s rules.

They are typically hungry for admiration or validation. And this is perhaps their most crucial trait that can be used for a reverse psychology effect.

Mastering the Technique of Reverse Psychology

Reverse psychology, once again, is a psychological persuasion tactic to make someone do something by suggesting the opposite of what you want them to do.

With narcissists, this means influencing them to make certain decisions by carefully suggesting the contrary.

Implying They Originated The Idea

Narcissists want to feel in control and love to be the mastermind behind decisions. To use reverse psychology, frame your suggestions in a way that they feel the idea was theirs.

For example, if you want them to be more considerate, you might say, “It’s a wonder that someone as great as you hasn’t learnt the power of consideration yet.”

Unveiling Their Fear of Loss

Narcissists hate to lose or be seen as less than the best.

Tap into this fear by suggesting that not going along with your idea might result in a loss for them.

Convey this subtly, making it seem like a potential loss rather than a direct threat.

Playing their Game of Superiority

Narcissists believe they are superior and smarter than others.

Use this to your advantage in reverse psychology by making them feel your idea is one only a superior intellect could execute successfully.

Scenario-Based Training Example

Imagine a situation where you are working with a narcissist on a project and want their cooperation.

Instead of saying, “We need to work together on this,” use reverse psychology and say, “I don’t know if you’d be interested in collaborating on this.

It could be too intellectually challenging for most people.” That will encourage the narcissist to prove their intellectual prowess by willingly cooperating.

Applying What You Learned

In real-life situations, remember to be subtle. Being obvious about your reverse psychology can backfire.

Do your own experiments, trying different combinations of the tactics above. Note the narcissist’s reactions and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Reflecting On Experiences And Refine Strategy

Reflecting on past encounters with the narcissist can be a powerful tool for refining your reverse psychology strategies.

Evaluate how they responded to your tactics.

Did your strategy trigger their defensiveness or did they take the bait? Use your reflections to adapt and improve your approach.

Remember that using reverse psychology on narcissists is not about manipulation.

It’s about facilitating smoother conversations and more effective activities in contexts where you must work with such individuals. Always strive to use these methods responsibly and ethically.

[By the way, here are 10 Covert Ways To Manipulate & Exploit A Narcissist]

Theory of Reverse Psychology

The foundation of reverse psychology is built on the psychological theories of reactance and recuperation.

Reactance theory states that when an individual senses a threat to their personal freedom, they often rebel, doing the opposite of what they are being told to do.

So, when someone feels their freedom curbed, they will feel uneasy, which will motivate action to reestablish that freedom. For example, parents may feign mild displeasure with their rebellious teenager’s new romantic interest, all the while secretly hoping that their lack of enthusiasm will in fact promote the relationship.

Recuperation principle, on the other hand, suggests that individuals may become more attracted to ideas or behaviors that are restricted or limited.

Reverse psychology, or strategic self-anticonformity (SSA), leverages these human tendencies to guide individuals toward the desired outcomes.

For example, consider a circumstance where you and a friend are considering which of the two movies to see together, and you have a preference for one over the other. But you know that if you merely suggest your preferred movie, along with solid supporting arguments, they won’t go with you.

So, since he or she is unlikely to comply with your preference, you may have a better chance proposing the opposite has movie with better counter-arguments than your original arguments.

Practical Implications of Reverse Psychology

In practical use, reverse psychology can be a powerful tool for persuasion and influence.

MacDonald & Nail (2010) suggest that reverse psychology, or strategic self-anticonformity (SSA), is a prevalent, real-world influence tactic.

It can be used in a variety of contexts including parenting, negotiation, sales, and more. It can be particularly effective when dealing with resistant, contrarian, or defiant individuals.

Ethical Considerations in Using Reverse Psychology

While reverse psychology can be a useful tool, it should be used with consideration for its ethical implications.

Persuasion techniques can be manipulative and deceptive, which can cause harm and damage relationships if improperly used.

Furthermore, it is essential to use this technique with respect for the autonomy and dignity of the other person, ensuring that it is used for their benefit and not to exploit them.

Final Words

Reverse psychology is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Its effectiveness largely depends on the person and the situation. Individuals who dislike being controlled or are naturally contrary often respond well to reverse psychology.

However, using it too frequently may lead the individual to catch on, making it less effective.

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How to set boundaries with your narcissistic mother?

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Author Bio: Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy. His expertise is in mental well-being, positive psychology, narcissism, and Stoic philosophy.

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