Do you Recognise these Narcissistic Methods of Manipulation?

People with narcissistic personality disorder manipulate those around them to coerce, diminish and take advantage of them.

By spotting how narcissists distort facts, language, feelings and ideas to you can gain distance from them which makes it easier to set healthy boundaries against them.

The notes I used are below the video.

Narcissists manipulate people using the following kinds of methods.


1) Attempt to shift the conversation by getting personal.

If you bring up a topic that threatens a narcissist’s ego, he may resort to name-calling, questioning your intelligence or attacking your character. It distracts from the topic at hand and makes you feel you have to defend yourself.

2) Glittering Generalities:  Using glowing words and statements to describe ones self, ideas, or behaviours without providing evidence.

3) The Big Lie:  Spinning a lie so outrageous that others are at a loss where to even begin to refute it. Narcissists are convinced that whatever they say in the moment is 100 percent true just because they are saying it. Lying often comes naturally, and the bigger the lie, the more it may overwhelm others’ critical faculties.

4) Intentional Vagueness:  Saying something so vague as to be meaningless or open to multiple interpretations. Trying to figure out what was meant, distracts your attention from legitimate concerns or questions.

5) Exaggerating:  Stretching the truth to extremes to get credit, eliminate doubt, or coerce someone.

6) Minimizing:  They deny or downplay anything that doesn’t fit with their story or goals. Narcissists are image conscious so they frequently minimize the negative consequences of their actions. They also discount others’ feelings and needs, seeing them as nuisances.

7) False Equivalence:  Attempting to equate vastly different situations to one’s advantage. Narcissists use false equivalencies to justify their unreasonable views and grandiose needs as well as to avoid responsibility for their destructive behaviours.

8) Gish Gallop:  A rapid-fire series of assertions, questions and accusations launched at another without giving a chance to respond. It makes the narcissist feel powerful because it makes others appear foolish or ignorant.

9) Lesser of Two Evils:  Giving someone only two undesirable options of which one is far more catastrophic. Narcissists use this to justify or excuse control, abuse, or other excesses.

10) Repetition / Ad Nauseam:  Repeating a word or phrase endlessly to side-track discussion. The goal is that if something is said often enough, others may start to believe it. It also is a way of dismissing what another is saying my simply talking over them, repeating a stock phrase or being unresponsive to further discussion.

11) Scapegoating:  Falsely blaming one individual for a group’s problems. This is one of narcissists’ favourite tactics because it can accomplish many things at once: making others feel inferior; getting other people to go along with the narcissist in ostracizing someone; gaining a feeling of power at orchestrating a group action; hiding or distracting from anything that would make the narcissist look bad; and evading the narcissist’s responsibility for creating part of the problem.

12) You Too:  Answering a criticism by asserting the other person is guilty as well. The implication is that a questioner or accuser is hypocritical. The goal is to have a stalemate and put others on the defensive while sidestepping the original complaint.

Do you recognise any of these methods as describing Sogyal Rinpoche’s behaviour? I do, and had I known this information before I met him, I would have realised what was going on.

10 Replies to “Do you Recognise these Narcissistic Methods of Manipulation?”

  1. Not to forget that Sogyal had a good sense of humour and he made use of it.

    His self-image was so exaggerated that his reality was shaped by it completely. And this is a very big danger Vajrayana comes with. Its build in. He could create lots of charisma and make unwise use of it.
    He could act so decent and humble that even Buddha could have been envious.
    He was an expert in “rapport breaking”. Please look for a proper definition. In short it means how to put other people in a lower position, in a very deep way, and to put the the narcissist in an higher position.

    And he could attract many many followers who rode on his wave. Many “mini-narcissists, who tried to overcome the feeling of being low by becoming meaningful carreer-buddhists.

    Sogyal could discard any person who was not a person of use for him without any hesitation.

    Plus the double-bind methods and so on.

    I just add my two cents here.

    After all, I feel sorry that I could not realize how red the flags had been already.

    But I realized how many red flags are about Buddhism in general to see, as soon as one has a trained one owns awareness.

    I feel as Dharma has become the pawn or bargaining chip for a big deal of all those people that are busy with dharma activities.

    1. Thanks for your comment; it’s very perceptive, especially ‘Many “mini-narcissists, who tried to overcome the feeling of being low by becoming meaningful carreer-buddhists’. I think they will flourish now. Unfortunately, spiritual materialism is alive and well. Dharma is a product to be marketed, and perhaps the biggest lie at the base of it, the one that keeps you coming back time and again for every more teachings and retreats is the belief that our spiritual development is the most important thing in life. That’s a hook that makes sure that dharma is prioritised in student’s lives, and that’s not a bad thing when you have no spiritual education, but once you have the teachings, the idea is to practice them, but the marketing keeps you seeking as if what you seek is outside of yourself and can be found in the next teaching or retreat.
      These days, I enjoy being ordinary.

  2. This list is a great help when it comes to recognize that you are being manipulated. Through the video it becomes even more personal experience. Thank you for that, dear Tahlia.

    In addition to the 12 techniques listed, I´d like to recommend adding a further one which is called „double bind“:‘

    „A double bind is a dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, with one negating the other. In some circumstances (particularly families and relationships) this might be emotionally distressing. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will automatically be wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither resolve it nor opt out of the situation.“


    As it seems to me there are interferences between „double bind“ and at least some points already listed above – compare especially numbers 4), 7) and 9).

    1. Good point. That’s very relevant to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs. It’s the ‘old damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ conundrum.

      One example is that the teachings say we are essentially pure, already perfect, and that we can trust in our true nature, our wisdom mind, that recognising and becoming accustomed to remaining in that wisdom mind is the whole point of the practice. But then the teachers continually undermine our ability to trust in ourselves by saying that we should obey them without question and put our trust in them, that only through devotion to THEM will we become enlightened. We’re supposed to be finding freedom by looking inward, while being continually pulled to looking outward by the promise of the next retreat, the next teaching, the next revelation.

  3. I think the “virus” of perverted “crazy wisdom” infected all the main lineages of TB with the Trungpa an Sogyal variants. It’s a pity to see how “blind” they are still now and continue to act as if all was OK in the perspective to protect their feudal way of life .
    Causality does not care about thrones and ranks…The non-return point of self-destruction is already achieved.

    1. Well at least it doesn’t wax lyrical about his ‘sublime qualities’. I feel sorry for these lamas. They get a request from Rigpa for such a prayer, what are they to do? Say, no? And Rigpa will be supporting him financially in some way. That’s how it all works.

  4. I understand the way it goes, for Alak Zenkar, it’s short and not too ” lyrical”, but the Sakya trizin had a long relationship with Sogyal and Rigpa, even after Sogyal’s trial in 93…
    I never heard a word of compassion for SR victims of abuse from him.
    What about meditating for decades and not seeing the perverse monster SR was..?
    But who cares? SR Pari-Nirvana is acccepted…maybe he will come back soon…

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