It’s supremely ironic. Narcissists are notorious for ruthlessly manipulating others to gain strategic advantage over them. Yet they’re exceptionally vulnerable to being duped themselves because of their powerful psychological defenses, which—if recognized—can be vigorously used against them.
To adapt a common expression: “The bigger they [think they] are, the harder they fall.”
That is, most pathological narcissists are secretly plagued by self-esteemdeficits originating in childhood and masked—or defended against—by rather primitive illusions of grandeur and an overblown sense of superiority and entitlement. And this need for others to admire them, to shore up the weak foundation of their carefully concocted persona, is what ultimately makes them so vulnerable to others’ words and behavior. If they’re so sensitive and angrily reactive to anything resembling criticism, it’s because of their deep-rooted insecurities. (And here, see my Psychology Today post: “The Narcissist’s Dilemma: They Can Dish It Out, But . . . ”, 2011.)