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Methinks Narcissists Dost Protest Too Much

Has your dentist ever poked his sharp instrument into a soft spot in your tooth? Oh the exquisite pain! Oh the torture! “It’s enough to make a saint use strong language,” as Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote.

That’s what the truth does to a narcissist. When they start flinging vitriol your way, you know you’ve hit the “raw nerve” of truth and their dramatic reaction proves that they know it. Of course, the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon said it best. To paraphrase Hamlet, “Methinks narcissists dost protest too much.” (Yes, I know the verb is conjugated improperly!)

You can almost smell it when you’ve really hit upon the truth. When you’ve put your finger unerringly on the raw nerve. When their conscience is piqued. The reactions are so strong, so vicious, so vitriolic, so personal. That’s when you know you’ve nailed ’em!

But how do you know if a negative reaction is honest or not? Oh, there are clues!

Over the past five years, I’ve had horrible comments posted about me on my articles, social media, website, etc. I didn’t freak out. Didn’t shoot back an angry response laced with acid, pointing fingers and calling names. Didn’t argue. Didn’t play the “God card.” Because the comments weren’t true. Yes, their meanness hurt, but not as much as you’d think. Because they simply weren’t true and I knew it. I took screenshots for future use and then deleted the comments. Easy-peasy.

But when a narcissist is faced with a harsh truth they secretly know to be the truth, they freak. The truth needn’t even be in sentences, paragraphs or prose. Just a list will do it. When I originally posted a list naming all the dynamics at play in my Family of Origin (e.g. narcissism, codependence, Stockholm Syndrome, trauma bonding, etc.), it was enough to send the family running to their lawyer. That overreaction was, in itself, was a kind-of proof that I must be sniffing around the truth. The litmus paper turned red.

You can take it foregranted they will launch a series of personal attacks on you. It’s almost a foregone conclusion. So brace yourself. Unfortunately, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

A quick search for “logical fallacies” will show you that personal attacks are just that. Fallacies. Red herrings. Smoke-and-mirrors. The old pea game. They have no validity in the world of logic. For example:

Ad Hominem: Attacking and insulting the person, rather than directly addressing the person’s claims. This includes name-calling and poisoning the well.

Red Herring : An irrelevant topic is presented to divert attention from the original issue and help “win” an argument by shifting attention away from the argument and to another issue.

Perhaps my favorite kind of attack is what I call “playing the God card.” It always sounds so good. So classy. So taking the high road..and they’ll be in Scotland afore ye. So condescending. But most of us have been abused by narcissists playing the “God card” once too often to fall for it again.

One verse narcissists particularly like to throw at us is Matthew 7:1-2.

Μὴ κρίνετε, ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε· ἐν ᾧ γὰρ κρίματι κρίνετε κριθήσεσθε, καὶ ἐν ᾧ μέτρῳ μετρεῖτε μετρηθήσεται ὑμῖν.

“Do not judge, so that you will not be judged, since you will be judged in the same judgment that you make, and you will be measured by the same standard you apply.”

But the terrifyingly brilliant Dr. Jason Staples believes this verse is misinterpreted! Here’s what he says:

This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, usually in a context something like this: “Yeah, he cheated on his wife, but who am I to judge? Hey, we’re all sinners, right?…That is, the verse is often marshaled in order to defend against any declaration that a given person’s behavior is wrong (quite often marshaled by the person in question). Effectively, when quoted as such, the verse is understood as a prohibition against declaring any specific action sinful or wrong, since doing so would mean “judging” someone.

Hypocrisy, not judgment, is the problem…this passage in Matthew is not forbidding judgment but hypocrisy. Yet again, we find that a text without a context is a pretext—the primary exegetical fault leading to misinterpretation is neglecting to read closely the surrounding section of a key verse.

Jesus follows up his warning against judgment with an explanation—we will all be judged by the same measure that we use. If we cannot hold to the standard we use, we have no business applying that standard to others… the point of the passage is to shut up only until one corrects one’s own life…

The second thing worthy of note is Jesus point that only after correcting one’s own behavior will one see clearly enough to make adequate judgments and help anyone else correct his/her own behavior….and Jesus makes the case that it is far harder—perhaps impossible—to do so when we are not pure hearted ourselves. As long as we hold to our own faults, we will see them in everyone else. [projection] But, as Titus 1:15 says, “to the pure everything is pure.”

So the passage is actually a condemnation of hypocrisy, not judgment. Jesus’ counsel is to tend to our own behavior and attitudes before attempting to help anyone else. If we attempt to judge before doing so, our judgment will be flawed by our own “splinters.” But the passage is in no way forbidding judgment. On the contrary, it asserts that judgment, like charity, begins at home.

And that’s why, like you, I will continue to call out narcissism wherever I see it. Or to misquote Hamlet again:

To fight narcissism, or not to fight narcissism: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outraged narcissists,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

How can we end narcissistic abuse unless we dare to suffer the slings, the arrows of enraged narcissists who always give themselves away by protesting waaaaay too much!?!

Photo by tonynetone

Methinks Narcissists Dost Protest Too Much

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. (2017). Methinks Narcissists Dost Protest Too Much. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Oct 2017
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