How the Narcissist Triangulates

Triangulation is a commonly relied upon tactic by narcissists.

It involves the narcissist pitting a supporter or a militia of supporters, also known as enablers and flying monkeys, against a targeted rival, in order to Divide and Conquer.

Dividing and Conquering is the means by which control over a designated target is ensured by creating discord and opposition. These flying monkeys are triangulated and used by the narcissist to further the narcissist’s agenda to control, manage, dominate, and glean sundry forms of supply from a designated target. Supply refers to that which feeds the narcissist’s pathological limitless need to feel powerful and worshipped.

How does the narcissist manage to so seamlessly accomplish this feat?

S/he will feign victimization, manipulate facts, disseminate ambiguous rumors (doublespeak), and call the targeted victim’s morals into question. By inferring the target is unethical, unstable, paranoid and irrational the narcissist succeeds with stigmatizing the target. The narcissist can then proceed to mobilize triangulated enablers.

Under the guise of altruism, the narcissist may even encourage the triangulated enablers to ‘help’ the target. When the victim pushes back and conflict emerges, it’s an opportunity for the narcissist to deny wrongdoing and assign responsibility for the alleged infraction to the target. The seemingly well-intentioned narcissist feigns innocence and may ‘selflessly’ point out how the flaws and shortcomings in the target are responsible for instigating disputes.

Integral to the narcissist’s crusade to exploit the targeted victim is character assassination and gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a term describing how false information is manufactured and deliberately manipulated so as to make the targeted victim doubt reality, memory and perceptions. Narcissists are masters at taking what is technically true and morphing it into a nefarious narrative devoid of proper context. Additionally, by relying on confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret information so that it supports preconceptions, narcissists can dupe the triangulated militia into colluding in actualizing his/her agenda. As the designated target begins to cave under the shame of stigma and the oppression of the smear campaign and a destroyed reputation, the triangulated brainwashed enablers will blindly assist with consummating the narcissist’s heinous intentions. Hence, with the aid of triangulated disciples the narcissist further destroys the designated victim, ensuring a position of power and control

Narcissists will initiate triangulation in work situations, romantic relationships, parenting, religious sects, and even within the therapeutic alliance. For example, if a narcissist manages to seduce a desired source of supply to renew a romantic connection, the narcissist might agree to engage in couple’s therapy to mollify any doubts and trepidation. When meeting the therapist, the malignant narcissist whose aim is to preserve the relationship so as to glean supply from his romantic partner, will likely present as contrite, sensitive and charming. If s/he is psychologically and/or therapy savvy, s/he may use psychological concepts to innocently characterize the partner as the unintentional instigator of their disturbing dynamics. The narcissist may even profess to spiritual proclivities to further amplify a presentation of moral virtue. All of this is conveyed with subtle acumen and cunning. Consequently the therapist can unknowingly be triangulated in the narcissists’ farce. Should the couple’s therapist fail to recognize one of the partners as malignant, the treatment process may tragically culminate in a perverse collaboration between the therapist and the narcissist. As a result, the narcissist will be enabled to fulfill his stealth agenda while further subverting the victim’s reality.

We are all vulnerable to being triangulated into the schemes of the narcissist.

In fact Edward Bernays, the nephew of the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, possessed a complex understanding of the machinations of triangulation and the impact of dividing and conquering. As the creator of contemporary advertising and propaganda, he embellished on how the use of calculated manipulation techniques can be used to control the masses. Bernays explained how the human inclination to seek tribal union with others through shared ideologies, trends, and causes allows those in a position of power to assert control.

By exploiting the desire to be a part of what is collectively deemed ‘correct’ and integral to belonging, narcissistic puppet masters are able to instigate a clashing divide between discordant groups. This sophisticated form of triangulation guarantees that those who don’t conform to the collective dogma are subject to smear campaigns and character assassination, fully supported and endorsed by the enabling multitudes. This strategy ensures that the true motives of the lauded narcissistic powers that be are obscured by upheaval and distraction.


Thank you Rev. Sheri Heller for another excellent article!

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Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW

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