Deciphering whether or not narcissists are stupid or smart is a complicated task. A psychologist friend, who has worked with lots of narcissists and survivors of narcissistic abuse, actually posed this question to me during a dinner once. I wasn’t sure how to answer. I didn’t have, and still don’t really have, a simple or straightforward answer to this inquiry. I suppose that the most manageable way to digest the information surrounding their intelligence is by saying that they are both clever and dumb. Let’s break it down.
Narcissists are clever.
One of the things that I know for sure is that narcissists are experts at reading people. They are masters at taking stock of who might be an ample and reliable source of narcissistic supply for them. Although this comes from the subconscious survival state in which narcissists perpetually live, they can be deemed clever in this regard. Narcissists survive off of what we call narcissistic supply – which is anything that feeds their ego. Narcissists also seem to be experts at manipulation. There’s a saying that it takes 10,000 hours to master something, narcissists have definitely put in well over that amount of time into manipulating others. So, are they inherently clever? Maybe not. I think anyone could master this skill if enough time and work was spent on acquiring it.
Conversely, narcissists can come in any figure or form. They can have incredibly high IQs or incredibly low IQs; however, they do not have emotional intelligence because they lack empathy. This is where the opposing argument- that narcissists are dumb- comes in.
Narcissists are stupid.
Because narcissists lack empathy, they lack an additional level of intelligence that is acquired through experiencing life with compassion. Narcissists often seem inept at understanding certain things. They may seem incredIbLy dumb when they are attempting to express their own emotions. They may seem incredibly disconnected when you are expressing your emotions to them. They seem to lack an understanding of a large part of the world because they lack compassion and empathy. Some narcissists are clever at saying and doing the right things to seem “normal” or to acquire narcissistic supply; but they do not innately understand their own sentiments.
When it comes to obtaining narcissistic supply, the narcissist seems incredibly cunning and sharp; however, as soon as the need for compassion and empathy is brought up – their seeming intelligence quivers. Narcissists know how to read people so that they can get the necessary amount of narcissistic supply; however, if things don’t go exactly the way in which they planned – they seem to be incredibly dumb in navigating scenarios that make them feel out of control. This is because they lack empathy and a huge part of emotional intelligence that is required to live in this world and have intimate connections like normal people.