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Narcissism is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and an excessive need for admiration. Despite their outward appearance of confidence and superiority, narcissists harbor several fears. Understanding these fears can provide insights into their behaviors and motivations.


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Here are eight things that narcissists are afraid of:

Public Embarrassment

The idea of public humiliation is horrifying for a narcissist. They thrive on the approval and admiration of others, and being embarrassed in a public setting can shatter the grandiose image they’ve worked hard to construct.


Narcissists fear rejection intensely. They often use manipulation to ensure they are never left behind, as rejection directly contradicts their perceived self-worth and can trigger intense narcissistic rage or even depression.

Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed” by Wendy T. Behary is an essential resource for understanding how to effectively deal with the narcissist’s fear of rejection and other challenging behaviors.

Being Found Out

A narcissist is terrified of being discovered for who they really are—a person with insecurities and imperfections. They go to great lengths to maintain their façade and avoid being exposed as frauds or imposters.


To feel unimportant or insignificant is a narcissist’s nightmare. They often create scenarios that place them at the center of attention to combat this fear, as they equate attention with worthiness.

The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family” by Eleanor D. Payson provides insight into dealing with narcissists who go to extremes to avoid feelings of insignificance.

Losing Control

Control is paramount for a narcissist, and the thought of losing it can cause significant anxiety. They need to feel in charge of their environment, people around them, and, most importantly, the narrative of their own identity.


Aging represents a loss of beauty, strength, and power, all sources of narcissistic supply. Narcissists often struggle with getting older and may go to extreme lengths to maintain their youth.


The idea of depending on someone else can make a narcissist feel weak and vulnerable. They must feel self-sufficient and cannot stand the idea of needing anyone else, even when they require assistance.

The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me Age” by Joseph Burgo Ph.D. offers strategies for protecting yourself from the paradoxical nature of a narcissist’s fear of dependency.

Authentic Intimacy

True intimacy requires a level of vulnerability that narcissists are uncomfortable with. They often have superficial relationships and avoid genuine connection, as it might reveal their true selves.

Understanding these fears can be the first step in dealing with a narcissist’s manipulative behavior and helping victims of narcissistic abuse find their footing. While narcissists may not easily change, being informed about their fears and motivations can help you navigate the treacherous waters of a relationship with a narcissist.

For those seeking more in-depth knowledge about the topic, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself” by Shahida Arabi is a powerful read that offers practical advice and psychological insights into the dynamics of narcissism and recovery from its impact.