Have you had the unfortunate experience of having to care for a sick narcissist? My condolences because I know how taxing it can be!
So, let’s talk about the issues around when narcissists get sick and how they act. There are quite a few dynamics that can be at play, depending on the type of narcissist you’re dealing with, but it all boils down to the same thing – narcissistic supply.
Narcissists need to seek supply like a vampire needs to suck on blood. In fact, narcissistic supply is actually life force energy, making it the narcissist’s energetic lifeblood.
The narcissist will milk the illness or ailment for all that it’s worth and then some!
The way in which a narcissist extracts life force from other people is via attention. Any attention is good because it all confirms the narcissist’s false illusion that they are superior, special and perfect.
Understanding how vital attention is to a narcissist is the key to the question, how does a narcissist act when they are sick?
Let’s explore it.
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When Narcissists Get Sick, How Do They Act?
Play the Total Victim
In the narcissist’s false version of reality, they are the centre of the universe in which everything else must revolve around.
However, as we know, there are billions of people on this planet, not just them. It’s unrealistic to think that everything can revolve around one single person.
In order for the narcissist to ensure that things do continue to remain all about them, they need to fabricate situations, which perpetually keep them in the spotlight. They need to remain centre stage so that they can keep extracting a steady stream of attention from those around them.
So, when narcissists get sick, how do they act? They will completely and utterly play the victim to its fullest extent. They’ll use the ailment or illness to really drum up the sympathy in others, creating one massive pity party for themselves.
“I’m just feeling so horrible and not getting any sleep at night. It’s all making me feel pretty down during the day. But, don’t worry about me, I know you’ve got your life to live…”
They’ll say this all with a quivering lip, tears in their eyes and the energetic expectation that you stay with them all day.
A passive aggressive narcissist (usually the coverts) will imply what they expect without actually saying the words. That way, if you agree to their whims and ever bring them up in the future, they can throw back at you, “I never asked you to do that.”
However, if you walk away and don’t give in to them, they’ll punish you for it in a cruel and unspoken way.
It’s emotional blackmail, pure and simple.
When a narcissist plays the victim, they will particularly prey upon those around them who embody a high sense of compassion. They will then go on to use the empathy of those people against them so that they can harvest their life force energy via the attention they receive.
Act Completely Superior
Narcissists suffer from a superiority complex at the best of times. When looking at how does a narcissist act when they are sick, their complete self-entitlement and belief that they’re more important than everybody else will shine through.
They may suddenly become the expert on the topic of their sickness and proceed to school everybody else in it, because they “know best.”
They’ll use the ailment to sit themselves above all others, because now they’re in a super elite club of ‘survivors,’ or think that they are extra superior for having gone through such an ordeal.
The narcissist will literally latch onto the label of the illness and use it as a piece of their (false) identity to peg themselves above the rest of us mere mortals.
Use it to Manipulate
Another tactic, when narcissists get sick, is the pure manipulation they’ll inflict upon those around them.
They will purposefully guilt anyone who doesn’t jump quick enough when they ring the bell. They’ll cruelly shame those who don’t pay them enough attention or attempt to go and tend to their own needs. Looking after yourself doesn’t serve the narcissist, so they couldn’t care less about what you need or want during their days of sickness.
Heaven forbid if you insinuate in any way that they’re getting better or not as sick as what they’re putting on. They will take that as a personal attack. Even if that was never your intention, the only thing that matters is how they perceived the comment in their mind.
Then they will probably go on to punish you for making such a statement.
“How dare you imply that I’m not that sick! The doctor said I need bedrest for at least 7 days. But of course, you think you know better than the doctor.”
An Alibi to Evade Accountability
Let’s be honest, it must be difficult pretending to be a charming, caring or easy-going individual all the time when that’s not at all who they truly are.
As a narcissist gets older, their looks fade and their resources (used for gaining attention) start to dwindle. Therefore, their ability to hold up their false mask also becomes a lot more difficult.
The same can be said when looking at when narcissists get sick. They will use their discomfort or symptoms as an excuse for their abusive and disrespectful behaviour towards others.
They will snap at their caregiver for no reason, then if they are pulled up on their behaviour they’ll say, “it’s just because I’m in pain, don’t take it personally.”
The narcissist may even project and shift the blame for their behaviour back onto you, even though all you’re trying to do is help them. They might accuse you of not being caring enough or they’ll push you and push you, then when you snap, they’ll accuse you of being rude to them.
In the world of a narcissist, they cannot accept responsibility for any of their flaws or negative behaviours, because that would mean admitting that they’re not actually as perfect as they think they are.
When a narcissist is sick, they will use that situation as the excuse for many of their narcissistic traits, rather than being accountable for their own words and actions.
A Way to Gain Sympathy
Narcissists absolutely love being sick because it means they can milk loads of sympathy from those around them.
Sympathy = attention, which gives them the life force energy needed to feed their false self.
The narcissist will use the illness or ailment to garner sympathy both at home and publicly.
They’ll use social media to make ‘poor me’ posts so that they can get a hit of dopamine with every reaction, like and comment. Social media is the gift of attention that keeps on giving, which is why narcissists use it as their life force energy playground.
When the narcissist is receiving sympathy, it keeps them firmly in the centre of the stage, while others around them are fawning over their wellbeing. This inflates their ego and reiterates to them just how special and important they must be for them to be gaining so much attention and concern.
An Excuse to Demand Special Treatment
As a byproduct of the narcissist’s superiority, they will expect special treatment when they are sick. Their false self has them believing that they are a god who deserves to be revered by all of those around them.
This will be displayed by demanding that certain people perform certain duties for them. Or they’ll expect others to take care of their menial tasks because they’re “too sick.”
The narcissist might call you from the other end of the house just so you can pass them their bottle of water (I’ve witness this one before!).
They’ll leave their plate on the table for you to take to the sink or they’ll get you to pass them the remote, even though it’s literally within their reach! They’ll want a special blanket with their favourite meal for dinner, even if they know you aren’t able to cook it or source it out.
We could go on and on with the ridiculous demands that they come out with, but the point is, if you refuse their demands, they’ll belittle and shame you for daring to say ‘no’ to them.
They truly do think that they’re above you and that by you refusing even just one of their expectations is abusive on your part.
An Excuse for Laziness
Narcissists can be extremely lazy when they want to, especially vulnerable narcissists. But all narcs love nothing more than to have their minions running around after them, while they kick back and relax.
They don’t want to have to lift a finger at the best of times, so how a narcissist acts when they are sick is to literally sit back and do nothing.
They’ll have no problem calling out and telling you what to do or manipulating others into handing over attention and supply. They love that they don’t have to bother themselves with household tasks, which quickly frankly, are beneath them anyway. They’re quite happy for their partner to do all of the cooking, cleaning, kids, pets etc., while they play the sick role.
Dealing with a lazy narcissist who becomes even more lazy due to an illness can be a very fine line. If you grant them too much leeway, they will quickly make that the new normal, even beyond the recovery of the sickness. Because guaranteed, there will be a new ailment that they’ll fabricate or exaggerate just so that they can continue to be
I know of one particular vulnerable narcissist who’s been keeping the sick cycle going for years, all in order to keep her husband as her ‘carer,’ who’s forever running around after her. She literally bounces from one health issue to the next so that she’s perpetually the victim and he stays fixed in the ‘slave’ role.
She is also the laziest woman I’ve ever met in my entire life. If her husband ever questions her not doing something for herself, he’s met with abuse, which quickly flicks him back into line.
Narcissists will use being sick as an excuse to be outright lazy.
4 Types of Sick Narcissists
Interestingly, not all sick narcissists are equal. How they use their illness to cultivate attention and supply can look a little different depending on how each narc works.
Here are four types of sick narcissists that I’ve noticed.
The hypochondriac is the narcissist who blows every little ailment completely out of the water.
If they’ve got an itchy hand, they’ll be using google to self-diagnose some crazy disease that they think they must have caught at the supermarket yesterday.
Maybe they’ve got a slight pain in their ankle, so an hour later they’re at the doctor’s office trying to get a last minute appointment to find out what’s ‘wrong’ with them.
The hypochondriac narcissists are the ones who love to avoid having to be responsible for themselves by blaming every little thing about them on something that is clearly beyond their control.
Hypochondriac narcs are generally the ones who are introverted and don’t have the confidence to go out and be a big character in order to gain attention and supply. Their sure-fire way of getting the attention they need to validate their significance is by always having something wrong with them and being a never-ending victim.
How does a narcissist act when they are sick and think they’re the expert at everything?
They’ll have a go at the nurse for being incompetent. They’ll blame the receptionist for getting their appointment wrong. They will want five different opinions from five different doctors, because none of them know what they’re talking about.
The expert narcissist will research their illness or ailment and suddenly think that they know absolutely everything there is to know on the topic. They’ll want to school anyone who will listen with all of their knowledge, which serves to inflate their ego’s superiority.
Then you’ve got the competitor narcissist who has to be the absolute winner at everything that is related to their sickness.
They will spruik about how their doctor is the most elite in their field, because they wouldn’t have anyone but the best working with them.
If the narcissist has received a bad diagnosis for something, they’ll have to claim how their condition is way worse than everyone else’s. Even when it comes to ill-health, the narcissist must be the best at that!
Everything is a competition and the narcissist must always come out on top.
Another scenario is if the narcissist’s ailment has come about due to an accident or event. They will claim that their event was the most sever or that they have overcome the largest odds to recovery.
Their False Self cannot accept that they are not the most elite and superior, otherwise their whole fake existence would be up for question, which is something they will never allow to happen.
Finally, there is the nitpicker narcissist. This is the one who basically makes everyone around them feel like they’re not good enough.
The narcissist will berate their carers for being too slow, the food not warm enough, the pillows too flat and the ambient temperature too high.
Even though the nitpicker refuses to do much for themselves or be their own responsible adult, they will project their inner shortcomings onto everybody else.
Nothing you ever do will be good enough for the narcissist.
The nitpicker is basically filled with a pile of unhealed wounds, which they refuse to acknowledge. However, their ego still needs to get rid of those wounds, so that they don’t interfere with their false reality of being special and perfect. So, they’ll dump those wounds onto the people who are trying to help them and look after them through their sickness or injury.
How to Deal with a Sick Narcissist
Remember that the behaviour of the narcissist is a reflection of who they are, not who you are. Having your own healthy boundaries is vital when assessing how to deal with a sick narcisssist.
You can have compassion for their situation, without bending to their every whim. If they accuse you of being an awful, immoral person for not going along with their agenda, you are fully within your rights to state your boundaries.
If they continue to behave abusively towards you, you have every right to walk out the door and leave them to it (no matter who that person is).
If the narcissist is being verbally abusive towards you:
“If you continue to swear at me or put me down, I will leave.”
If the narcissist is pushing you around and being demanding:
“I really want to help you, but I can only put in what I have the energy to give. Beyond that, you will need to see what you can do for yourself or ask someone else for help.”
If the narcissist is guilting you with emotional blackmail:
“I’m sorry that you’re going through this. I will help in whatever way I’m able to, but I need to make sure my own cup is full first.”
How a Narcissist Treats You When You’re Sick
Have you ever wondered how a narcissist treats you when you’re the one who’s sick instead of them? Spoiler alert – they couldn’t care less! They will not stick around and be a caring person in your time of need.
Those wedding vows you may have taken, “in sickness and in health…” do not apply to a narcissistic relationship.
To get the full picture, take a look at the article below.
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