What does it look like when a narcissist is honest-to-goodness, forthright, upright, downright, undeniably busted in wrongdoing?

The Model

Whenever I think of a narcissist busted, my mind always turns to good ol’ television evangelists (televangelists.) It’s beyond common for them to be busted for one wrongdoing or another during their long and incredibly financially profitable ministries.

Some of them are photographed going to prostitutes. Others are caught in gay affairs. And there’s plenty of financial hanky-panky. You name it, they do it.

Even more interesting than the salacious details of their shenanigans is to watch how they navigate through the phases of being busted. It’s like there’s a template! Maybe it’s called DARVO.

The narcissists I’ve observed follow the same template when they’re busted. At least, it’s a theory. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.


From the first time we got caught with our hand in the proverbial cookie jar as toddlers, we all know the first rule of being busted: deny, deny, deny. Our mouths may be smeared with blue frosting, but deny we will! I see it as just another confirmation of how passionately we all know and believe in right vs. wrong. (And don’t want anyone, especially Mommy and Daddy, to think badly of us.)

Televangelist’s first go-to position is to deny, deny, deny. Wearing their most holier-than-thou expression, they rally their flock and swear they “never had sex with that woman.” And don’t talk about this scandal between yourselves, they tell their congregation. That would be..gasp!…gossip.

It’s also how my old school, very religious, very holier-than-thou swept statutory rape under the carpet.

The Devil

But things just keep getting worse as more and more details of the scandal surface. The televangelist’s reverent mask slips and we peak behind it to see a furious monster. Their features contorted with anger and fists pounding for emphasis, they yell that, “I am such a great servant of God, I’ve been brought me under demonic attack, but I will not give in to the fiery arrows of the Devil.”

“Very classy stuff,” as Bette Davis said. “Very Academy of Dramatic Arts.” Playing the victim always is the very stuff that drama is made of.

I know from personal experience just how bad it feels when the narcissist you know and love accuses you of bringing them under demonic attack. I was fifteen and that was bullshit!


But for all their drama, even televangelists can’t disprove facts. The incriminating photographs. The eyewitness. The partner in their fling who’s more than happy to sell them down the river in return for the cover story in the National Enquirer.

So they confess, with great crocodile tears in their eyes and a ready excuse on their tongue. Usually, it was their wife’s fault. In The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis, he described Hell as a place of constant excuses:

“Napoleon was there all right. ‘What was he doing?’ Walking up and down-up and down all the time-left-right, left-right-never stopping for a moment. The two chaps watched him for about a year and he never rested. And muttering to himself all the time. ‘It was Soult’s fault. It was Ney’s fault. It was Josephine’s fault. It was the fault of the Russians. It was the fault of the English.’ Like that all the time. Never stopped for a moment. A little, fat man and he looked kind of tired. But he didn’t seem able to stop it.”

Return to Grace

Time is the Great Healer. I’ve tried it. It works. And the human memory is shockingly short. In no time at all, the whole scandal has been brushed under a very lumpy rug and the televangelist has gone on their merry way.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Much too often, their merry way leads them to do exactly the same thing they were busted for previously. After all, they got away with it the first time! Sure, there was some unpleasantness back then but…

Who knows what goes on in the mind of a narcissist? How negative truths become twisted in their favor. How past wrong-doing get projected onto their nearest and dearest. We try, oh we try so hard, to understand them. We strain our imaginations and perform complex mental gymnastics to understand how a personality disordered person thinks. Goodness knows I’ve tried! Perhaps one day we’ll git it. Or perhaps, in the words of one famous televangelist…

“The Lord told me it’s flat none of your business.”

Incidentally, that’s also what that televangelist said the second time he got busted with a prostitute.

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Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2016). Busted!. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Oct 2016
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