The elusive memory problems of a narcissist. They seem to be able to forget anything mean, negative, or abusive they did or said and claim you are somehow wrong or the crazy one when you bring up things they don’t want to hear. Why do narcissists seem to have selective forgetting for some things and not others?
The narcissist can seem to remember all their accomplishments, the people who think they are amazing, and examples of how they are better than everyone else. However, they can’t seem to remember things they said to you or plans they agreed to do with you. Do narcissists have bad memories for only certain things, or is something else going on?
The narcissist doesn’t have worse memories than the general population, despite their apparent forgetting of many things. The problem is, the narcissist’s memory is very selective. As with most everything in the narcissist’s life, they remember what is most convenient for them and what meets their needs and wants. When it comes to others, the narcissist doesn’t find a need to remember things because they don’t care what others want or need, especially when it is in direct conflict with their own wants and needs.
The narcissist lives in the moment. What they need right now to maintain their narcissistic supply and to prevent narcissistic injury is all they can consider. Combine this with their lack of empathy and lack of object constancy and you are left with someone who only thinks of themselves without concern for others.
And this is why they have selective memory. They remember only what benefits them. And that changes day to day so what you think they found important yesterday, can be different tomorrow.
The narcissist can’t seem to remember when they said something hurtful or rude to you. They belittle or call you names but when you bring this up, they deny. They blame you for your poor memory problems and how it never happened. Again, this is because to admit to that wrongdoing would expose them to narcissistic injury and this is something they can’t risk. They don’t have the resources to manage feelings of shame so they deflect and remove themselves as responsible for things that have happened that can be viewed negatively.
This is part of the gaslighting the narcissist enacts on those around them. They deny, create a new reality, and divert attention away from themselves. They manipulate a situation in their favor by distorting the truth. They may do this by blatant denial, blame shifting, or minimizing. The narcissist gaslights to control and manipulate a situation which they think could expose them to narcissistic injury. If the narcissist has said something hurtful to you, they may gaslight to change reality. They want you to question what was actually said, and your thoughts and feelings about the situation, so they can gain the upper hand.
The narcissist must design a reality that fits their narrative and internal beliefs. They are masters in this game of control and manipulation. Each step is carefully crafted and if it seems people are trying to influence this reality they have carefully created, they will lie and deceive to get the focus back on what they need the most, which is themselves.
The narcissist doesn’t forget the mean things they said to you, or the plans they made with you. These things just act to move the narcissist closer to being exposed for the fraud they are and they can’t take that risk, so they forget what was said and point fingers somewhere else.