A word commonly used to describe one’s experiences with a narcissist is tyrant. “I grew up in a tyrant’s home,” some will say. Some tell of being married to or living with a tyrant. Others rue exposures to tyrants at work, in organizations, within extended families, or among acquaintances.  

Tyrants are control freaks and bullies.  By definition, they are an ugly combination of anger, forcefulness, oppression, and punitive attitudes.  Specifically, their overbearing behaviors are initiated even when they have no right or reason to act as they do…other than their proclamation: “Because it is me, you should do as I say.”

To give you an idea of a tyrant’s identifying features, look over the following checklist:

  1. Grabbing authority when it is truly unnecessary.
  1. Not just needing control, but absolute control.
  1. A pervasive lack of reasoning, being arbitrary and fickle in their mannerisms.
  1. Driven by whims or the mood of the moment.
  1. Cruel behavior and dehumanization…and it is intentional.
  1. Communication via imperatives, orders, threats, and commands.
  1. Oppressive, superimposing, insulting, and humiliating.
  1. Differences with others become an invitation for a dominance contest.
  1. Relentlessly invasive and narrow in focus.
  1. A loner’s mindset, as evidenced by no need to connect at the heart level.

Sadly, tyrants view people in their midst as little more than tools, transactions…someone to be used then discarded.  In their minds, empathy is almost completely meaningless. “Why would I need to understand you?”  So focused are they on maintaining tight control that the prospect of harmony and collaboration is non-existent.

Very early in life, tyrants became defined by anger. 

Aggression, stubbornness, and imposition were deemed necessary as they sought their place in a disordered world.  That anger, though, was borne of fear.  Unable to trust, they feared being ruined, ostracized, or deemed unworthy.  Viewing the world as judgmental and competitive, they learned to avert shame by becoming the pronouncer of shame.  The tyrant’s need for dominance is little more than compensation for their dread of being irrelevant.

Tyrants wrongly assume that being right cancels the need to examine emotions (their own as well as others’).  To them, it is wasted energy to determine life’s many nuances and complexities.  Instead, they would rather apply binary, simplistic thinking in any circumstance requiring insight or introspection.  

Tyrannical narcissists have elevated power and control over integrity, meaning they have little willingness to ponder meaning or purpose.  Being in charge over the person in front of them is all that matters.  Yet, despite their bravado and false surety, they are perpetually anxious and uptight.  They truly do not know peace since tension is omnipresent.

If you are connected to a tyrant, know it is not a relationship.  To them, you are someone to be used, then abused when you inevitably disappoint.  That person cannot see or access your interior, ever.

Understanding the tyrant’s distorted manner of life, have a healthy fear of them.  They are willing to destroy anyone who dares to get in the way of their schemes, and they have no appreciation for anyone’s value beyond their utility in the moment.  In other words, don’t poke the bear.  Don’t debate.  Don’t speak convincingly.  Don’t pressure or persuade.

Instead, move forward with a life pattern as independently as you can muster.  Put parameters in place regarding what you will and will not do with that person.  Refuse to apologize for who you are.  Refuse to become isolated.  Refuse to protect the tyrant when “required” to be a keeper of their secrets.  Refuse to defer when your common sense is telling you that you are being mistreated.

In most cases, the tyrant needs to be removed from your life.  And if extraneous circumstances prevent that, minimize your exposure as much as possible.  

While tyrants will not use these words, their deeds shout: “I am an impossibly desperate person who will destroy anyone who refuses to soothe my fragile ego.”  They carry great psychological pain and have determined to ease that pain by displacing it onto anyone who will receive it. 

That being the case, you can reason: “That is exactly why I cannot afford to remain inside your sphere of influence.  This kind of connection is not sustainable.”

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

To watch the video on this topic, click here.