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How to Get the Narcissist's Worms Out of Your Head

I am a licensed professional counselor. My practice focus is in general counseling, depression, anxiety, couples, custody issues, and LGBTQ.

Learn how to get the narcissist out of your head.

Learn how to get the narcissist out of your head.


Parasitic worms are a nasty image, but they aptly describe what a person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) does to their victims. Like any parasite, they do not want to totally destroy their host (you) because, without you (and people like you), the NPD would totally fall apart. Like most parasites, NPDs have inborn abilities to find and attach to a host without the host realizing that they have been infested. By the time the host recognizes that there is something terribly wrong, the parasite has firmly hooked into the victim, making escape difficult, at the very least.

And like all parasites, the NPD lies in wait patiently until a suitable host comes by (usually stumbling by, actually). Like getting a tick in your groin while answering nature's call in the deep woods, the NPD is always looking for a vulnerable host/victim. Many victims of NPDs, if they are honest and examine themselves forensically closely in clinical counseling, will be able to recognize just how vulnerable they were at the time the NPD entered their lives. The NPD immediately began to administer the anesthesia best suited for the victim: compliments, charm, sympathy, economic support, or emotional security (or a combination of these).

Once the host/victim is numbed, a slow, subtle process begins of draining the victim of their life. Tiny digs begin about the victim's imperfections and character flaws, and the use of repetition, proofing (citing endless fabricated "proofs" of your stupidity), gas-lighting, and other brainwashing techniques escalate towards total possession. Each of these techniques are like parasitic worms that the NPD places in the host/victim's head for further development and use. Some are left dormant for a time but are planted at a vulnerable moment for later use. And the effort is relentless; it never stops and is a constant process of parasitic infection.

The assault on the host/victim is perpetrated upon the brain's limbic system. This is the exact strategy used by experienced torturers in "brainwashing" efforts. The strategy involves relentless pressure and manipulation of the emotional centers of the brain (limbic system), often to the intentional exclusion of the more logical and critical thinking areas of the brain. The objective of this kind of mind-control is to gain 100 percent control over the individual emotionally and shut down all use of critical thought.

Planting the "worms" of self-doubt is achieved by the NPD finding out about your areas of lower self-esteem and starting the process of repeatedly bringing them up, with small additions to "tie down" the flaw. The repetitions are employed as a method of wearing down and forcing the worm to go deeper into the individual's psyche and self-identity. Never missing a chance to comment on your errors (even simple, common, human errors) is just one form of "proofing," other forms are simply making things up on how what you do or do not do is messing up the life of the NPD. "Gas-lighting" is such a broad category as to be beyond the scope of this brief article, but suffice it to say that there are dozens, not hundreds, of ways the NPD does this. (Look up the 1944 film Gaslight).

You need to identify the worms.

You need to identify the worms.

Identify the Worms

You cannot purge yourself of the worms unless you know what they are. You may know about a few of them, but you may need the advisement of trusted friends or even a qualified clinical counselor to identify and locate the many other worms that are in your head. Trust me; there are many worms there, some of them even “sleepers” that are just awaiting the NPD to ‘wake’ them.

Some of the common worms that the NPD places on the host/victim are thoughts like incompetency, failing beauty, low IQ, inability to be independent, laziness, accusations of cheating on the NPD, not being lovable, being a liar or thief, and poor parent. All of these emotions-attacking-parasites are dedicated to the larger goal of having the host/victim hand over their ‘locus of control’. Because once the NPD has that, they essentially own you, mind, body, and soul….and the NPD then begins to consume even those.

But the NPD has one more trick, one more parasite: they plant the worm of intense rage and desire for revenge. This is the worm that lies dormant, often for decades, and is there as a fail-safe for the NPD. Should you ever decide to leave, end the relationship, escape, or purge yourself of the other worms, the revenge worm can be activated by the NPD to continue to get a supply of reactivity from you (albeit negative reactivity, but “hey, any port in a storm,” eh?)

The NPD shaped the revenge worm by repeatedly doing and saying bizarre nonsense that was designed to knock you off balance and create in you small storms of confusion and anger, which, if you expressed, are met with apologies and soothing.

Essentially, the NPD taught you how to store up all of your rage for them over a relatively long period of time, and regularly baited you to occasionally engage in sparring with them, letting you win small victories. And they full well know the game of tit for tat: they likely invented it. And you have been watching and learning from them how to be vicious for years, maybe even decades. Viola: they have created a perfect foil for their future supply.

Challenge the Worms

Recovery depends on reclaiming your limbic system and regaining your locus of control by exercising logic and critical thinking. To do this, most hosts/victims need to physically get away from the NPD. This is why most advisors tell you to cut off all contact because the NPD will try to get your worms to wiggle any chance they can get.

Sitting down with a pencil and piece of paper, write down as many worms as you can locate that your NPD has placed in your head. Keep this in mind when thinking about the worms: while yes, you do have character flaws and issues like everyone else in the world, what the NPD told you about yourself is untrue. Keep the list visible, like on the fridge. Each day, consciously challenge each of the worms; tell yourself forcefully, even aloud, that they are not true. Learn how to engage in critical thinking; read a book or two on the topic, and practice relentlessly.

"Critical thinking" is the ability to think about your own thinking. It applies solid facts and logic to process problems and theories. Remember, theories are not facts until there is enough evidence and proof to support them, and critical thinking provides the intellectual discipline and rigor to do that, beyond even a shadow of a doubt. And it can be duplicated and affirmed by multiple other people or sources. The NPD, as you know, develops a bizarre theory and then selectively finds (and fabricates, if need be) evidence to prove their theory correct. Anything that does not fit their theory is discarded despite being factual. Real science does the opposite: the theory is made, and then the evidence is sought to prove the theory wrong.

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It is important to note that most people in the world do not regularly engage their brains with critical thinking, even scientists make logic and critical thinking errors, which is why scientific theories and data often go through rigorous peer review before being accepted in the scientific community. The upside is, if you learn to think critically on a routine basis, you will end up a healthier, more serene, and satisfied person….and it really pisses off NPDs.

You have to purge the worms.

You have to purge the worms.

Purge the Worms

So, dear reader, here is the formula for purging the worms: whatever is on the worm list you made, reverse. And now go find evidence to prove those things wrong. Did the NPD tell you you are ugly? Stupid? No one wants you? You are beautiful, you are bright, and many people love you. Now just try and find the evidence to negate those truths…you can’t. Surround yourself with only positive, walk only in the positive, and reclaim the location of emotional control in your life. Bless your survival.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


geppy on October 14, 2019:

It would be awesome to see your replies to the comments which would be so helpful

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on August 08, 2018:

We have begun to offer distance consulting/coaching for victims of pathological relationships. Get more info at:

Julie Emmons on February 08, 2018:

I have been critical thinking for years. I can spell out the whole energy field as it happens minute by minute. But I am trapped. Whenever I get away something happens that I have no choice (oh yes, I can choose to freeze to death homeless on the street-been there done that) but to return to the prison he has masterminded and has denied for decades. Most of the time I just pray he dies at least one day before I do so I can live at least one day before I die.

Christiane on January 26, 2018:

That one has been very helpful, thank you.

It´s a good idea to talk about worms - understandable.

I guess I´ll take a paper and write down the worms that had been implanted in my head-and I will see not to fall for them anymore.

I am glad you said the wish for hate and revenge can be seen as a worm only,too.

I thought I had to spend the rest of my days hating - somehow I can let it go after reading your article.

Thank you very much - and wishing a nice weekend to everyone here !

Jason on January 09, 2018:

I see a majority of women here, trust me ladies men get hit with it too, most just don't admit it! Its awful!

nandakumar on October 24, 2017:

very nice and true , thank you i have one worm thats revange , even one is dangerous, thank you

Tammy on August 28, 2017:

It hurts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great article!!!!! Just now seeing after fifteen years!THANK YOU

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on August 03, 2017:

Be as relationally healthy as possible, and continue your recovery; kids gravitate towards the healthiest adults in their life. They learn much from you, and hopefully, how to deal with a difficult person.

Julie on August 02, 2017:

Good to read. I was with him for 12 years and left 2 years ago. We have two kids 9 and 7. I see what a monster he is but he is doing alot to our kids emotionally and how he talks. Its sad any advice for children? Cause i am healing and happy but i can only do so much for me but then for them?

Svetlana on August 01, 2017:

Its been horrible 16 years and 4 children later....but I finally escaped after failing many times.!(escaping is not easy ) The keys for finalising were SELFESTEEM....beliving in yourself.makes the predator look so ridiculous....!There is nothing, really nothing the narc can do to get me back.It took me a lot of reading informing myself about the narc.But not only .I started studying myself, my behaviour....why di I react the way I react when he says...that and that....??!!! And now Iam at the point that no mader what he says it doesnt really affect me....what I mean is, of cousrse certain things arw still possing me off, beacuse I know exactly what he is trying to do...I studied him for 5 years....Yess it took me 5 years to realise.Even though I started reading about it and the proof was there....but still till really realising that with this person I will never be happy. ...took me prettylong. Because yess you are sure you want to leave and you say to yourself thats it I will leave, but then he has somehow a way to trigger you back....and little you know, I dont how hes got you back...baaahm! And you are again at point A going in circles.And the way this article describes the issue is just perfect....because it is truly like many worms / parasites that needs to be eliminated one by one.Dont be so hard on yourself if u dont make it by the first time, its not your fault. BUT dont loose hope, you can do it.I did it...and you will too!!! The only reason I still have to interact with the narc is because of my 4 children.Dont give up , belive there will be sunshine after the rain and know that the narc will never make you unconditional happy.Only you can....And if you realize that the love us not real .....That you can live yourself better then anyoneelse can.....then you almost there!!!

smileeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :)

Summer on July 28, 2017:

She is my mother. She is "the preacher's wife". She is a child molester. She is a child pimp. She is a liar, a deceiver, a vile, sadistic, corrupt "human" being.

And she is evil beyond my ability to describe.

What now?

Elizabeth on July 13, 2017:

I finally feel like someone understands what I am going through. I am divorced from this wicked soul but my life's mission is to not let him destroy my 9 year old son who is suffering from the wrath of this NPD.

Thank you for providing a resource and validation. I will not let him do to this sweet child what he has done to me. Thank you! Not many understand this type of "person"

Diana on May 23, 2017:

My deepest parasite is this anger and hatred. How do I rid myself of this? Just the thought of him brings up so much anger. Revenge is on my mind. Bringing his self-esteem down. But I know that will not work. Where do I go from here?

Vladimir on March 25, 2017:

I am currently dealing with one N at work who constantly redirects attention to herself with unimportant questions, installing her worms of constant thoughts of her inside of my head. Others don't ask those silly Qs, and she does that just to take my attention from my daily work tasks. Even when I grab a few minutes out of my job, my thoughts go onto her, her gaslighting, her attention seaking, her drama-creating, her inefficiency of her own work, her need for praise, need for getting me out my calmness and into emotional reactivity,... Even when I come home, worms are still going on and on, how she can be like that, why she does that, how can I refocus myself... damn

David on January 11, 2017:

This is my own male parent, I was born simply to provide for him. He died when I was 19 years old and I was essentially still a little boy. I cannot tell you enough how HAPPY I am to hear that they cannot survive without the victim providing them with their "fix". I left home aged 19 in February 2002 and he died of a heart attack in the June of the same year. I like to think that in his destruction of me and what compelled me to leave the family home is what actually killed him. I take a lot of comfort in that because I will NEVER be able to address him as a MAN. In the boxing ring that was my childhood he was my opponent and referee all in one and we played by his rules.

ptosis on January 02, 2017:

Ghost lighting: exactly. I had to write it out and it one of my best hubs I wrote because if didn't write it out - would still be angry.

Icankbelandean from Indonesia on October 30, 2016:

Really I like this article thank you vert much for share.

Lisa Rombach on October 18, 2016:

BRAVO!!! Truly great article and very different angle. One of my worms was, " You are only good for a couple of meals". I'm good for WAY more than a couple of meals. I left him months ago and have been rewriting over all those negative tapes and now I'm happy once again :)

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on October 18, 2016:

I'd like to thank those who have read and benefited from this article. I appreciate the support!

Lily on September 04, 2016:

This is an amazing article & ticked all the boxes. I never thought someone could be so hateful towards me. You live and learn.

Helen Krummenacker on May 05, 2016:

My narcissist was just a friend, but when health problems limit your social circle, it's easy to be vulnerable. The gaslighting was constant, but fortunately, I have some autism spectrum traits, and I simply felt confused as to how he could misunderstand or misremember so many things. On the other hand, he was constantly violating boundaries, and I wasn't alert to the possibility that he was outright deceptive and malicious for some time. It was hard to break away, but eventually, the malice lost subtlety and then I found out about NPD and everything fell into place.

Mary on December 22, 2015:

Helpful article. Helps me reframe negative worms drilled into my psyche. So essentially everything said with hate, although in my case covertly, I reverted to love. Many thanks. Recently separated from my ex, started divorce proceedings. Holiday booked and trying to maintain no contact. Information on covert narc behaviour, my faith, loved ones have got me through the worst of days. Stay strong all.

Ellen Zerba on December 13, 2015:

Awesome article. I surely need tons of help. I'm stuck. I've been gone from my N for 5 years...married to it for 25. Still struggling to heal and have developed some weird , distressful residual personality disorders myself. I have a therapist but she is not trained for NPTSS. So, the worm analogy and the critical thinking exercises is something I have to try. Thank you a million times.

Stacy619 on December 10, 2015:

This is so true...I don't understand how they get so good at being such bad people. My dad and I think my mom are both Ns. It seems every man I date or marry are Ns too. I'm so scared now to get involved for fear that another one will grab hold of me. Mental and verbal abuse are so painful and it seems it never goes away.

I always hear my ex in my're going to fail at that like you have everything else your whole life...or I've had better. How can people be so cruel.

Jennie Hennesay from Lubbock TX on December 10, 2015:

I really like the mental pictures you draw. I was once a NPD victim. Thought I'd moved on, but the older I get the more I get sucked back in even though we've been over nearly 40 years. Thanks for the advice.

Destiny Rose on December 10, 2015:

Good article I like the worm comparison - makes sense to me. Take a look at my article some time - the doctor in the video explains narcisist hy narcisist hate happy people pretty good observation as well :)

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on December 10, 2015:

What a great parallel -- parasitic worms and the words of a narcissist. I have read tons of articles on narcissism before, but this is so refreshing and clear in its presentation.

McKenna Meyers on December 10, 2015:

Your hubs are so valuable to me's as if you've lived the exact experience as I've lived. They really make me feel so not alone and more empowered to take on the narcissist in my life ... who, thank God, is on the sidelines. You're so right about them accentuating any mistakes we make and then bringing them up again and again. I see that so clearly now, but I didn't see it at all for decades. Making mistakes, failing, experiencing setbacks were never part of the human experience in my growing up. They were just bad. Now, there's so much research that shows how important it is to fail, become resilient, and keep pushing ahead. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. You're definitely bringing peace!

Catherine Mostly from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD on December 10, 2015:

This was a really good description of what narcissistic people are like; and what happens to their victims, whoever they are. But the last part of this sentence is a little disturbing to me:

"The upside is, if you learn to think critically on a routine basis, you will end up a healthier, more serene and satisfied person….and, it really pisses off NPD’s."

I also grew up with a parent who had a personality disorder (not sure which one). The other one was an alchoholic. There was no way that I was going to grow up with a semi-normal outlook on life. In fact, I ended up with my own personality disorder as a result of my upbringing - which happens all the time, as you've suggested in here.

The reason my mom has a personality disorder was the result of people treating her like crap when she was growing up. I don't get along with her at all; and in fact, have hardly spoken to her this past year. But, I don't try to 'get back' at her in any way; because I know she had to deal with the same kind of people that I do - who helped make her like she is.

I hate the way I am and I feel sorry for her... Cycles need to be broken, and your worm erradicating idea is one good weapon to help with that. I just ended up not having kids, ha! I would have made as bad of a mother as she was.

ana on December 10, 2015:

Im a survivor of a npd husband. Gone thru emotionally abusive 11 years of marriage and am out of it now. The blow to their ego is the best weapon against a narcissist. Give them a dose of their poison and they will despise you forever and seek another victim.

charlene on December 09, 2015:

Thank you for this article. Critical thinking will validate your truths despite what the NP has tried to make you believe. Having read so much on this topic with some therapy to help get through this, your article puts what we go through in truthful and easy to understand terms for us and those outsiders who may not understand how to deal with an NP. Best understanding of how the space where compassion and empathy, missing in their brains, gets replaced with devious cold-hearted actions and words towards the victims. Well done.

Christin on September 01, 2015:

The last two paragraphs of the "Identify the Worms" section were so right, so powerful... a true "aha moment" in understanding the dynamic between the NPD and host. I've done so much reading on this topic and how found this idea to be so enlightening. Thank you for helping me to understand the how and why!

TexasLady on August 31, 2015:

I am with you Susana...That exact same thing happened to me...What you wrote is so spot on...

Suzanne on August 30, 2015:

No contact. No contact. No contact. This will give you clarity of mind to "pick apart the 'poo'" of the relationsh*t, and look for the tells that are glaring you in the eye now. The tells that you overlooked because of his love bombing. It's a difficult thing, but coming to terms that he is NOT who he appeared to be early on, is a deeply disturbed person and lied to you--that the whole thing was a LIE--will be the point at which healing can begin. Once that healing began for me, I had to look at some hard stuff within myself to see why I didn't call his bluffs and demand more detail while he was word-salading me and gaslighting me? Because I wanted it to be true, I was willing to believe his lie. Hard thing, but the only person you can change is yourself. I'm not minimizing the experience with evil, but to avoid this from happening again, I had to find out why I put up with his BS. Be strong, ladies. You can do it! And the real you will emerge.

Jaime on August 20, 2015:

I am finally coming to terms with the fact that this was what my mother did to me (I'm 36! It's taken a while for me to see!). Now, I am faced with protecting my 10yo daughter from the same thing happening to her (for a while I think my mother wanted to make my daughter her Golden child and me her scapegoat!) Now that I'm resisting, all hell is breaking loose. It's hard when the narcissist is a parent, and you find yourself grieving the loss of the parent you thought you had...but it was all an illusion. Thanks for this information, I'm seeking out everything I can get my hands on at this point.

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on August 13, 2015:

Elle, here is a good place to start:

Elle on August 13, 2015:

How does one find /determine a qualified clinical counselor?

Chuck Fasst from Portland, Oregon on May 29, 2015:

"Any port in a storm." For sure. Any kind of drama will do. And those worms - they don't all go away.


Sam-ed on May 19, 2015:

Worms great. Apt. Gross too. Parasite and vampire same thing.

I think it is high time to educate our girls especially , and the boys can be alerted to themselves and friends etc.

Ariel Laur from New York on May 15, 2015:

I love your article. The parasite analogy is excellent because I can really picture what the narcissist doing. The concept of dormancy and the way you describe it is fascinating. I have never heard of this of this systematic way of challenging the worms but I would like to try it out. I am going to read about critical thinking as well. Your approach to this topic really helps in understanding a type of personality that often leaves me confused. Thank you for sharing all of this useful wisdom!

TR from PA on May 15, 2015:

I loved your article it really made me think about the people in my life and how they treat me. i wish you the best. I am new to subpages but feel free to please check out my hubs and my website on my profile. You may enjoy the posts

Miss Lou Lou on May 12, 2015:

Thank you for a great article. They are SO LIKE AN EVIL WORM in your HEAD. SO BAD for your soul, self and mental health!

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on May 07, 2015:

Here ya go, Michelle:

Michelle on May 06, 2015:

My question is this: Once you have found a way to escape from the NPD, how do you ensure you don't end up in the snares of another? I've been through two very volatile relationships, both which ended in divorce, and both were with someone who was NPD, among other things. I recently started dating again, and less than a month into a relationship, I realized the guy I was dating was behaving in a very similar manner to both of my exes. I just want to be able to build a loving relationship with a healthy man, and not worry if NPD is going to rear it's ugly head yet again.

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on May 06, 2015:

Thank you, and yes, and yes.

Diane on May 06, 2015:

Great article! ! This is exactly what I experienced and do. I hear most of his projections as projections now because I know they aren't true of me.

Do you think some N's are actually sociopathic and some just a little bit into that end of the spectrum tho? Do you think other disordered personalities do the same thing?

mimi on May 05, 2015:

that is typically my dad is . i did not need to go away from him cause he got alzheimer s and that pushes him away from me.

Cerulean Crayon on May 05, 2015:

I like this article. Thank you for giving it.

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on May 05, 2015:

I am sorry to hear of your pain, Jenny. In all circumstances, it is healthiest for us to validate ourselves and not count on validation of others, including those we love. Know that there is recovery, but the first step is in the departure.

Jenny on May 05, 2015:

I have started to hear and feel the jabs, deeper and deeper. I have to listen and hang on every sentence he says, but my response or opinion is either rudely interrupted or he doesn'twa nt to hear about it. I have said countless times that to listen to what I am saying validates me as an equal human being with my own thoughts and emotions. But, it falls on deaf ears. Things I've said in private have been put on blast for all to hear within a block radius. But to hear him say it, I do all the yelling and fussing. I feel weirdI ca n't win for losing. I can't say or do anything right. If he stops his toe, it's my fault. I feel like a doormat. All I need to do is lay in front of the door. That would save him time not having to crawl up my ass to wipe his feet in my face

William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on May 04, 2015:

No real research in this area that I can find, Pat, but my theory is that since there is virtually no empathy and compassion, there is plenty of room for other, devious and manipulative skills to fill the empty space. There also seems to be a natural kind of predator-instinct that may come to the fore when empathy is absent.

Pat on May 04, 2015:

With so many narcissists, and they all do the same evil things, how do they learn how/what to do to control or drive someone insane.

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