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May 21, 2024, 07:50:44 AM

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The Narcissist In Court

Used with permission from Sam Vaknin and the Archives of the Narcissism List

The Narcissist In Court

A clear distinction has to be made between the FACTUAL pillar and the PSYCHOLOGICAL pillar of any cross-examination or deposition of a Narcissist.

It is essential to be equipped with absolutely unequivocal, first rate, thoroughly authenticated and vouched for information. The reason is that narcissists are superhuman in their capacity to distort reality by offering highly "plausible" alternative scenarios which fit all the facts.

It is very easy to break a narcissist - even a well trained and prepared one.

Here are a few of the things the narcissist finds irresistible:

  • Any statement or fact which seems to contradict his or her inflated perception of his grandiose self.
  • Any criticism, disagreement, exposure of fake achievements, belittling of "talents and skills" which the narcissist fantasizes that he or she possesses, any hint that he or she is subordinated, subjugated, controlled, owned or dependent upon a third party.
  • Any positioning of the narcissist as average and common, indistinguishable from many others.
  • Any intimation that the narcissist is weak, needy, dependent, deficient, slow, not intelligent, naive, gullible, susceptible, not in the know, manipulated, or a victim.
  • The narcissist is likely to react with rage to all these and, in an effort to re-establish his fantastic grandiosity, he is likely to expose facts and stratagems he or she had no conscious intention of exposing.
  • The narcissist will also react with narcissistic rage, hatred, aggression, or violence to an infringement of what he perceives to be his or her entitlement.
  • Narcissists believe that they are so unique and that their lives are so cosmically significant that others should defer to their needs and cater to their every whim without question. The narcissist feels entitled to special treatment by unique individuals, over and above the regular "bloke".
  • ANY insinuation, hint, intimation, or direct declaration that the narcissist is not special at all, that he is average, common, not even sufficiently idiosyncratic to warrant a fleeting interest will inflame the narcissist.

ADD to this a negation of the narcissist's sense of entitlement - and the combustion is inevitable.

Tell the narcissist:

  • that he or she does not deserve the best treatment,
  • that his or her needs are not everyone elses priority,
  • that he or she is boring,
  • that his or her needs can be catered to by an average practitioner (medical doctor, accountant, lawyer, psychiatrist),
  • that he or she and his motives are transparent and can be easily gauged,
  • that he or she will do what he is told,
  • that his or her temper tantrums will not be tolerated,
  • that no special concessions will be made to accommodate his or her inflated sense of self, etc.

When approached in this manner, this will cause the narcissist to lose control the majority of the time.

Remember, the narcissist believes that he or she is the cleverest, far above the madding crowd. If contradicted, exposed, humiliated, berated ("you are not as intelligent as you think you are", "who is -really- behind all this? It takes sophistication which you don't seem to have", "so, you have no formal education", "you are (mistake his age, make him much older)... sorry, you are ...old" "what did you do in your life? did you study? do you have a degree? did you ever establish or run a business?" "would your children share your view that you are a good father?" "you were last seen with a Mrs. ... who is (suppressed grin) a domestic, stripper, receptionist... )" (in demeaning disbelief)) a narcissist will stand the chance of losing it.

I know that many of these questions cannot be asked outright in a court of law. But you CAN hurl these sentences at him during the breaks, inadvertently during the examination or during the deposition phase, etc.

The following is from an attorney who learned about Narcissism prior to his divorce and was thereby able to have his attorney provoke the Narcissist to totally lose it on the stand:

I am an attorney and have recently gone through and finished a divorce with my ex-Narcissist spouse. I also had my deposition taken (I have taken many myself. I hereby offer you some gratuitous legal and strategic advice which should be no means conflict with whatever your attorney tells you. Not knowing which state you live in, it is impossible for me to offer any kind of specific legal advice, and it would be improper for me to do so anyway. I scored a perfect "100" in my deposition taken by my Narcissist-ex and lawyer. I adhered to the following rules:

  • Never look at the Narcissist. The lack of attention will be very upsetting to the Narcissist. It is a kind of narcissistic injury. Do not acknowledge their existence.
  • Whether their lawyer believes their BS is irrelevant. There is an old reworked saying - "Hell hath no fury like the lawyer of a Narcissist scorned". The lawyer may try to rattle you or make you uncomfortable. Ignore such attempts. Remain calm, cool and professional and answer all questions honestly and slowly. Give your lawyer time to object before you answer.
  • Most Important!! ALWAYS tell the truth even if you think an answer to a question will make you look foolish, silly, or anything else. Do not attempt to explain your answers to make them sound better. Keep your answers brief and to the point. Do not ramble or tell stories.

Regarding Depositions: Just remember that the purpose of a deposition is not to change anyone's mind. The purpose of a deposition is to "freeze" your testimony in writing so that any change or departure at trial can be used to hang you. That is why it is so important to tell the simple truth and not to embellish. Do not try to prove yourself right or Narcissist wrong. Just remember - if you lie, you die!

The time and place to deal with the Narcissist is in the courtroom. Let your lawyer do his job. Family law judges are disgustingly used to the lying and emotionality that goes along with divorces. You must at all costs wear the white gloves and do nothing to indicate to the judge that you are sneaky or vengeful.

To summarize the most important advice:

The real trick to beating a Narcissist in Court is twofold in nature.

FIRST: To catch them in a lie when they are on the stand is sublime.

But, you must have ABSOLUTE, INCONTROVERTIBLE proof of the lie, proof that is admissible in court by rules of evidence or by unassailable testimony. When confronted with the impeaching evidence, a Narcissist will react with fury, more lying (which will be visible to everyone except the Narcissist) and will in general actively discredit themselves.

SECOND: The second part of the process is more subtle. If possible, your counsel should structure the cross-examination of the Narcissist to bring out and allow the Narcissist to magnify his or her grandiose self. It is often enough just to let the Narcissist be himself or herself. Emotionally-healthy individuals can generally see through the false self and discern the true motives of the Narcissist.

Remember, though, at the end of the day, family law courts are generally not interested in the emotional aspects of your divorce. Most states are "no fault" divorce states, and even though judges are people and have emotions, generally they are interested in numbers and custody issues. Judges do tend to ignore all the drama, but if you can get a Narcissist to lie under oath and properly expose them, this will have a bearing on the witness' credibility with the judge.

That is why it SO important for us to tell the truth at all times no matter how foolish we may think we look AND for us to conduct ourselves in a Calm, Rational and Dignified manner.

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