Any of the 16 personality types can be narcissistic, including INFPs. Unfortunately, I’ve had real-life observational experience to back up what I’m sharing in this post.
A Portrait of a Narcissistic INFP
A truly narcissistic INFP is a person who is locked into their worldview without any flexibility. They often are stuck in victimhood or martyrdom and feel like everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) around them is accountable for their personal happiness. Everyone else is always the problem.
“If everyone would just do such and such for me or treat me like this and that, then I will be happy.”
The narcissistic INFP has people bending over backwards to please them. Like all narcissists, a narcissistic INFP is a pro at emotional manipulation. If they’re also an HSP, they could be even more manipulative than narcissists of other personality types due to their ability to pick up on minor social cues.
I know as an INFP, I have an acute awareness of what the pain points of others are, so I do my best to either support others through those pain points or– if it’s an especially sensitive issue– I won’t even bring it up if I can help it.
On the other hand, a narcissistic INFP will use the pain points of others to their advantage, often to intentionally hurt and guilt trip people so they can get their own way. Emotional intelligence is weaponized. And if they don’t get their way, the narcissistic INFP will have an extraverted thinking meltdown and lash out with fierce anger and piercing words.
If you know anyone like this, please beware of getting entangled with them. If at all possible, do not get into a close relationship with a narcissistic INFP, even if they come across as “helpless.” Typically, a narcissist cannot be fixed because they don’t want to be, and they will use you. All they want is what you can give, and you won’t receive emotional reciprocation. With that said though, I think a narcissistic INFP would be an interesting antagonist in a work of fiction.
A Real Narcissist Doesn’t See the Problem
A person with a narcissistic personality disorder would look at this post and think it applies to everyone except them.
For a narcissist, everyone else is the problem all the time. It’s extremely hard for them to see when they are in the wrong. And if they ever do admit that they are wrong, usually it’s not coming from a place of genuine regret and change. They may apologize and claim that they will be different, but after that brief moment they go right back to business as usual.
In the end, it’s always about them and how they feel. Your feelings do not matter to the narcissist.
The sad thing is that narcissists in general put so much of their personal power into the hands of others. Their happiness always relies on what others do (or on what others don’t do). They have a hard time taking the appropriate amount of responsibility for their feelings and actions.
“You made me angry, so I did such and such, therefore all of my actions are your fault!”
These people are powerful in the way they upend the lives of others, but they are powerless when it comes to having individual fortitude. They are never in charge of their destiny because they put that weight on everyone else.
Dealing with Normal Narcissistic Tendencies
So if you don’t have a narcissistic personality disorder, you could be reading this and think, “Oh, no. I’ve acted in these ways sometimes.”
That’s normal. Everyone has had those ugly moments of manipulating the emotions of others to get what they want. There are times when we’ve pushed off the blame or feel that EVERYONE is the problem, without taking stock of which parts of our actions and feelings are our responsibility.
Other people can do dumb stuff that genuinely hurts us, but we are always responsible for our actions in response to that.
It helps to remember that people are people. They have history, fears, desires, and families. People are not pawns or tools to be used to get the dream life you desire at any cost. That’s the narcissist view of humanity. This reminds me of the minimalist phrase, “Use things, not people.”
For help with navigating normal levels of narcissism, you may want to read What is Personal Growth and Individuation Like for INFPs.
Also you may want to think about how to be more flexible in your use of introverted feeling by allowing yourself not to judge others too quickly. For INFPs, introverted feeling is the primary and strongest function, and it’s about having high values and creating meaning. This function is fast, and it quickly judges what aligns with our values and what doesn’t. This is why INFPs are always striving to be their true selves.
But it’s important to realize that not everyone is striving for the same things. It takes patience and compassion to sit there and be present with what someone else is expressing to you, even if you don’t agree with them.
Slow down your judgment and be open to listening. Not judging quickly helps because it encourages you to develop a more nuanced view of your problems and the problems of others.
Sometimes it really is another person’s fault. But other times our reactions to what happened adds unnecessary fuel to the fire. Then unfortunately there are times when we were simply wrong.
I’ve found it helpful to try to understand what the fears of others are. Fear always points to what others care about. When I see what they fear, I gain a better understanding of what matters to them.
Tapping into your other INFP strength, extraverted intuition, can also make a difference. Extraverted intuition is reflected in the Big Five Trait of “Openness to Experience.” So instead of being closed, be a bit more open.
You can use extraverted intuition to read books you normally wouldn’t read. Doing so exposes you to the experiences and frailties of others, real or fictional, and help to you see that you don’t have to be so defensive about having weak points and being wrong.
“Openness to Experience” is okay with being imperfect, messy, and failing because it’s a childlike quality that sees the value of exploration and humbly learning. Take time to tap into that side of yourself.
What If You’re the Victim of a Narcissist?
It really breaks my heart to see how INFPs can be both really fierce narcissists and the deeply hurt victims of narcissism. And the victims of narcissistic abuse can go on to become emotional abusers themselves.
Healthy INFPs have big hearts, and they are pulled towards those who are suffering. And narcissists, no matter how much they try to cover it over with charm and “niceness,” are deeply suffering on a level they can’t even understand themselves.
However, it’s not up to you to go help a narcissist without an invitation. They are the ones who need to take the initiative and ask for help related to how they treat others. And when a narcissist is asking for that kind of help, they must get it from a mental health professional.
If you’ve experienced emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, I want you to know that this is not your fault. You are a victim, and the narcissist attacked you.
They are responsible for their words and actions because they made the active decision to treat you the way they did. Don’t think there is something you could have done or said better. It is extremely difficult to say the right thing to a narcissist because they will twist your words and intentions to fit their agenda all the time.
I also want you to know that you’re not crazy. The narcissist will do all they can to make you think that you’re the problem, but trust that strong feeling within yourself that warns you something is seriously wrong with this person. The danger you sense is very real, and it’s important you trust that feeling.
As a victim, you deserve all the healing you can get. If you feel that you need a therapist to help you sort out your feelings, don’t hesitate to find one. A good therapist can help you distinguish reality from the gaslighting, set boundaries, and recover your self-esteem.
I know therapy isn’t available to everyone, so if that’s you, do your best to educate yourself on how to recover from emotional abuse and put some space between you and the narcissist. As you educate yourself, keep a journal to track what recovery methods you are trying to use, what’s working, and how the emotional abuse has affected the way you view yourself. Also work to build friendships with people who will take your side and not the side of the narcissist.