Insecure narcissists are complex individuals whose behavior can be challenging to navigate. Despite their outward appearance of confidence, they often harbor deep-seated insecurities that drive many of their actions. One common tactic they use to cope with these insecurities is starting fights and then projecting blame onto others This behavior can be baffling and emotionally draining for those around them but it feeds their poor me syndrome (PMS). In this blog, we’ll explore the characteristics of insecure narcissists, why they start fights, and how projection works as a defense mechanism.

The Insecure Narcissist: A Contradiction in Terms

At first glance, the term “insecure narcissist” might seem contradictory. Narcissists are typically characterized by their grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. However, insecurity lies at the heart of many narcissistic behaviors. These individuals often have a fragile self-esteem, which they mask with arrogance and a sense of superiority. This façade helps them cope with their underlying fear of inadequacy and rejection.

Why Insecure Narcissists Start Fights

Insecure narcissists start fights for several reasons:

  1. Control and Dominance: Starting a fight allows them to assert control and dominance over others. By initiating conflict, they can shift the focus away from their own insecurities and onto the flaws or mistakes of others.
  2. Attention Seeking: Conflict draws attention, and narcissists crave attention. Whether the attention is positive or negative, it feeds their need for validation and significance.
  3. Projection of Insecurity: By creating turmoil, they can project their insecurities onto others, making those around them feel unstable and unsure of themselves. This deflection helps the narcissist feel more secure in comparison.
  4. Deflection from Personal Flaws: Focusing on the faults of others distracts from their own shortcomings. By highlighting the mistakes or weaknesses of others, they avoid facing their own issues.

The Mechanism of Projection

Projection is a psychological defense mechanism where an individual attributes their own undesirable thoughts, feelings, or motives to another person. For insecure narcissists, this is a common strategy to protect their fragile ego. Here’s how projection typically unfolds in the context of a conflict:

  1. Initiation of Conflict: The narcissist starts a fight over a seemingly minor issue, often exaggerating the significance of the problem.
  2. Escalation: As the argument progresses, they escalate the situation, becoming increasingly agitated and accusatory. This heightened emotion serves to further distract from their own insecurities.
  3. Blame Shifting: The narcissist begins to project their own negative traits or feelings onto the other person. For example, if they feel inadequate, they might accuse the other person of being incompetent or failing.
  4. Emotional Manipulation: Through projection, the narcissist manipulates the emotions of those around them, causing confusion and self-doubt. This emotional turmoil makes it difficult for the targeted individual to see the narcissist’s true motives.
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Recognizing and Responding to Insecure Narcissists

Understanding the dynamics of an insecure narcissist’s behavior is the first step in responding effectively. Here are some strategies to manage interactions with them:

  1. Stay Calm: Keeping your composure during conflicts can prevent the situation from escalating. Narcissists thrive on emotional reactions, so maintaining calm can diminish their control.
  2. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect yourself from emotional manipulation. Be firm and consistent in enforcing these limits.
  3. Avoid Engaging in Arguments: Engaging in arguments often plays into the narcissist’s hands. Instead, calmly state your perspective and disengage from further conflict.
  4. Seek Support: Dealing with an insecure narcissist can be draining. Seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional to help you navigate these challenging interactions. I have a great group program which can be found here
  5. Self-Reflection: Reflect on your own emotional responses and vulnerabilities. Understanding your triggers can help you remain grounded and less susceptible to manipulation.


Insecure narcissists are skilled at creating conflict and projecting blame to protect their fragile self-esteem. By understanding their tactics and implementing strategies to manage interactions, you can maintain your emotional well-being and avoid being drawn into their cycles of insecurity and conflict. Recognizing these patterns is the first step toward healthier and more balanced relationships.

About Me:

Kelli Hughart is a PhD candidate at the College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences at Saybrook University. She is a Mind-Body Medicine expert and a Board-Certified Hypnotist and Trauma/Transpersonal Hypnotherapist within the Integrative Medicine model. Additionally, she has advanced certifications in Trauma-Informed Emotional Recovery Coaching, Transpersonal and Trauma-Informed Hypnotherapy, CBT Hypnotherapy, and Hypno-EMDR and Clinical/Applied Hypnosis. As a holistic healer for the last 35 years, she is also a Clinical Master Herbalist and Clinical Master Aromatherapist, Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach, Reiki Master/Teacher and Flower Essence Practitioner and Medicine Maker. Kelli loves nature and gives back to community by doing wildlife rehabilitation and grows at risk and rare plants. She has been consulted by other clinicians (MDs, DOs, NP, etc) and interviewed by local magazines, newspapers and been guest teacher and speaker at herbal conferences and colleges. Even though she earned a 5th degree black and blue belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu, the signs of emotional abuse in her marriage eluded her and she developed years of nightmares and panic attacks and was later diagnosed with complex stress syndrome and it triggered an physical illness too, thus she found herself at the darkest point in her life from the  abusive relationship. Conventional medicine failed and she discovered a natural method of healing that she now shares with others. Now Kelli’s specialty is overcoming emotional abuse and recovery of ‘burnout’ (allostatic load burden is the appropriate term).  She lives in Charleston with her Irish Terrier, Slainte (sounds like sloncha) and has 1 daughter and 4 grandbabies that are the loves of her life!  Click Here to schedule a session to see if we are a match to work together