Narcissist Victim vs. Real Victim: How To See Through The Fake One

— By Dr. Sandip Roy.

On the surface, all victims seem to share their hardships and frustrations, how they have been wronged.

But there are some interesting differences between a narcissist’s victimhood and a real victim’s suffering. If you can tell them apart, it can send you the wrong way to respond to their distress.

We might be in trouble if we let the narcissist prey on us with their tearful show. That is the precise way many serial killers trap their victims before kidnapping them.

Or, we might regret it if we ignored a real victim’s pain.

Let’s take a closer look at the nature and depth of their expressions.

Fake vs. Genuine Victimhood

The narcissist’s victimhood is a pre-planned act, whereas the real victim’s misery is a raw reaction to their life events.

Narcissist’s VictimhoodReal Victim’s AnguishDescription
The narcissist’s victimhood is a feigned performance, a tactic to evoke sympathy and attention.While the real victim’s anguish is a raw, authentic expression of their lived experiences.Narcissists use their victimhood to manipulate, while real victims express genuine pain.
The narc always seeks to maintain his fragile ego, desperately avoiding any situation that might expose his vulnerabilities or imperfections.The real sufferer struggles to recover from their shattered sense of self, restore their basic sense of safety and trust, and reclaim their cheer.Narcissists focus on ego preservation, while real victims work on rebuilding their shattered sense of self.
The narcissist’s complaints are often about superficial matters — how others are doing better than him, how their close ones are ignoring him, her fading looks, declining social status, or loss of wealth.In contrast, the real victim’s grievances cut to the core of their being. It stems from a place of profound, unrelenting pain. Their inner peace has been shattered, their very identity fractured by the trauma they have endured.Narcissists complain about superficial issues, whereas real victims have deep, unrelenting pain from their trauma.
They whine and cry, hoping to garner pity and admiration, all the while clinging desperately to an erstwhile image of perfection and “giver.”They express their pain sincerely and seek understanding and support, not admiration or pity.Narcissists seek pity and admiration to maintain an image of perfection, while real victims genuinely seek support.
Table: Fake vs. Genuine Victimhood
Narcissist Victim vs. Real Victim - THB

The Narcissist’s Facade: A Deeper Look

Narcissists are masters of emotional theatrics. They can make you shed tears while feeling nothing inside.

Their complaints revolve around their reputation, appearance, status, or material possessions.

  • A female narcissist may lament she was laid off from her job because of her aging looks, and now she needs money for cosmetic surgery to get back her beauty and job.
  • A male narcissist can gripe about people insulting him at every chance because he is no longer useful to them.
  • Rich narcissists may complain about their dwindling wealth and privileges.

Underneath this veneer of victimhood lies a fragile sense of self.

Narcissists need external validation to maintain their image of superiority and self-worth. They won’t feel good about themselves otherwise.

So, they act like a victim to get people’s sympathy, attention, and money. All of it is a performance.

They can conjure up tears of sorrow and grief at the sight of a person with high empathy. Beneath, their true motivation is to get praise, self-gain, and control.

The Real Victim’s Anguish: A Inside Look

The real victim’s grievances stem from a place of genuine suffering. Their pain is not merely skin-deep but cuts deep into the core of their being.

The real victim’s anguish is a raw, authentic expression of their lived experiences.

They are not performing for an audience. But rather, laying bare the depths of their emotional turmoil, stripped of any pretense or facade.

They are battling intense emotions like sadness, anger, or fear. Some of them might be depressed and lonely, with their inner peace shattered, and their sense of self irrevocably dismantled.

They could be spending time overthinking the past, going over promises made to them that have been broken.

Some victims no longer feel safe to go out among people, or courageous to meet new people.

They can even lose their trust in humanity in general, but never seem to say it out loud.

Narcissist Victim vs. Real Victim - THB (PIN)

How To Identify The Narc’s False Victimhood

  1. Superficial Complaints: Ask yourself if their focus is on superficial issues like fading looks, declining social status, or minor slights rather than deep emotional pain.
  2. Lack of Genuine Emotion: Notice if their displays of distress seem exaggerated and rehearsed. Note their micro-expressions, like breaks in painful expressions. Forced tears lack the raw pain of real suffering, while genuine emotions often show in subtle ways, such as a trembling voice or true sorrow in the eyes.
  3. Inconsistent Stories: Pay attention to whether their accounts of victimhood contain inconsistencies and change over time. Real emotional experiences are usually consistent and coherent.
  4. Attention-Seeking Behavior: Do they have a history of seeking sympathy and attention? Have they used their “victimhood” to manipulate and control those around them? True victims typically don’t seek the spotlight.
  5. Blame Shifting: See if they are blaming others for their problems and refusing to take responsibility for their actions. Are they portraying themselves as perpetual victims? Real victims might reflect on their own actions and circumstances.
  6. Excessive Drama: Watch for overly dramatic and disproportionate reactions to perceived slights. They are to draw attention and sympathy. Real distress is typically more subdued and genuine.

Final Words

Human suffering is complex. It requests our kindness, empathy, and a friendly gesture to help the victim survive and cope.

But manipulators like sociopaths and narcissists may fool our empathy mirror to make us do something for them.

So, we must know the narcissist’s feigned victimhood from the genuine pain of the real victim. Only then can we make sure our resources go to help the real sufferer.

√ Also Read:

√ Please spread the word if you found this helpful.

Our Story!


When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Going to therapy to feel better is a positive choice. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns.