Narcissistic Smear Campaign – how to spot it and what to do about it

What is a Narcissistic Smear Campaign?

A narcissistic smear campaign is a tactic used by narcissists to discredit and damage the reputation of their target. Narcissists often employ this strategy when they feel threatened or challenged and engage in the spread of lies, rumours, and false information about their victim.

Narcissists often use this tactic to get people who know the victim to turn against them and question their motives. This isolates their target and also reduces the chances of anyone believing them if they try to talk about the abuse they are enduring. The isolation and lack of support often result in the victim losing hope and staying in the relationship with the narcissist. This is the abuser’s end goal because it guarantees a source of continuous narcissistic supply.

The main characteristics of a narcissistic smear campaign include:

  • Spreading Malicious Rumours: The narcissist will attempt to spread malicious rumours about their target in order to ruin their reputation and gain the upper hand.
  • Harassing and Intimidating the Victim: The narcissist may use threats or other forms of intimidation to try and control their target, or make them fearful.
  • Discrediting, Defaming, and Humiliating the Target: The narcissist will do anything they can to discredit, defame, and humiliate the victim in an attempt to gain power over them.

The stages of a narcissistic smear campaign typically include:

Gathering Information: Narcissists will collect as much data as possible about their target so they can use it against them. They may scour social media, magazines, news outlets, conversations with mutual acquaintances and more for information that can be used maliciously.

Spreading Rumours: Posting negative comments on social media channels or other public forums in an attempt to damage the reputation of their target. This could include slander, lies, and false accusations that are meant to defame and discredit the victim. The goal of these smear campaigns is twofold. To harass and intimidate the victim while also discrediting, defaming, and humiliating them.

Attacking Character: Apart from spreading false stories, some narcissists will also resort to a direct attack on their target’s character. This is done by bombarding the victim with accusations on social media or in person. The goal is to put the target on the defensive, in the hope of provoking a reaction from them that would escalate matters further.

Using Others: Narcissists often enlist family members and friends to join in on their smear campaigns against the target. They may even use third party sources such as bots or fake identities online to amplify the damage they cause.

How to Spot a Narcissistic Smear Campaign

One way to spot a narcissistic smear campaign is to watch for inconsistencies in the stories presented, as these are likely to be lies or exaggerations.

Additionally, you should watch out for escalating hostile behaviour from the narcissist, as they may be trying to ramp up their harassment and intimidation tactics.

Lastly, look out for unusual or heavy criticism that seems disproportionate to the situation; this could indicate that the narcissist is trying discredit and humiliate their target.

How to Deal with a Narcissistic Smear Campaign

Gather Evidence: Keep records of any communication, evidence of harassment or intimidation, and other relevant details so you have proof in case the situation escalates.

Limit Exposure: Minimize your interactions with the narcissist as much as possible and make sure never to engage with them directly in any way.

Document Everything: Document every instance of contact or communication you have with the narcissist, as well as any potential witnesses or information they may provide that could help prove your case against them.

Stay Calm: It is important to remain calm during a smear campaign and not give in to provocations from the narcissist. Doing so will help keep your defenses up and prevent further damage from being done.

Seek Professional Help: If the situation becomes too overwhelming for you to handle alone, it is important to seek out professional help from therapists or lawyers who can advise you on the best course of action to take.


To conclude, it is essential to remember that collecting as much documentation as possible and staying calm are key when dealing with a narcissistic smear campaign. Keep records of any communication and evidence of harassment or intimidation, so you will be fully prepared if and when you decide to escalate matters through legal or other channels. Additionally, it is crucial not to allow the narcissist to provoke you into an ill-judged response, since this will only give them more power. By taking these steps, you can protect yourself from further abuse and minimize the impact of a narcissistic smear campaign.

For Further Reading:

The following are the most potent abusive tactics in the narcissist’s toolbox –

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