5 Reasons Why People Engage In Smear Campaigns

I’ve already covered how smear campaigns work in another post. But it’s common to wonder just why do people like narcissists/psychopaths/toxic people engage in smear campaigns against others? The sheer amount of time, effort and energy some people put into these smear campaigns is incredible (but also sad and pitiful).

When we put the pieces together as to just what they’ve been up to against us and for how long, it’s can seem like they’ve literally made it a “project” or “mission” in their life, something they put an amazing amount of effort into.

It may not be possible to know for sure the motives for why toxic people seek to smear others so much, but boredom, envy and a pathological compulsion to cause harm to others are a few more obvious reasons for disordered people to engage in this behavior.

But let’s dive into more detail, putting ourselves in the minds of toxic people as much as we can, to suggest some other motives for this kind of behavior.

#1. Envy

Narcissists, psychopaths and just toxic people in general are envy-ridden personality types. This source very succinctly defines envy as “when a person lacks another’s quality, skill, achievement, or possession and wishes that the other lacked it”

And that kind of nails it. The general motif of envy is “If I can’t have it, I don’t want you to have it”. The narcissist or other toxic person cannot stand that you have some quality you have, and they know on some level they’ll never have.

And they want to take it from you by smearing, undermining and isolating you.

If you have something they want (eg. skills, success, popularity, intelligence, composure, calmness) but can never have themselves, they’ll want to take it from you by eroding your self esteem, reputation and good standing with others. This is especially in workplaces but also even in social circles.

Once you’ve lost everything you once had and valued in that environment, whether it’s your skills, confidence, reputation or friendships, in their sick inverted mind they’ll be satisfied.

Be on the lookout for this, since envy is perhaps the most destructive of all the emotions, and it always comes from a place that is beneath you. It’s not advised to stay around envious people for long.

#2. Control

With psychopaths/sociopaths especially (but also narcissists), they’re power and control fixated personality types.

And if they see that you’re NOT just another “useful idiot” they can easily control and co-opt in their usual politics/scheming/nonsense, that you’re not buying the glib, fake, charming image they’re trying to sell you, they’ll seek to control you in other ways.

They’ll be more indirect, trying to control and influence other people’s perceptions of you by smearing you.

Therefore, in workplaces especially, it’s advised to be on the lookout for red flags not just with individual toxic people, but the entire environment and culture itself.

Watch out for a high concentration of poor quality, apathetic, easily influenced people who narcissists/psychopaths can very easily manipulate and “wrap around their little finger”, turning them against you. It’s far easier for pathological personalities to target and smear one person in these kind of low quality environments, versus a healthier one where more people see through the toxic person’s lies and don’t buy into any smear campaigns they attempt.

#3. Boredom

When we ask  “has this person got nothing better to do?”, we might well be right. The narcissistic/sociopathic personality especially is characterized by a relentless, intense sense of inner boredom and “flat-ness” they need to escape from via constant drama/politics or other stimulation.

Sneaking around playing politics, triangulating and smearing others is a perfect distraction to “feed” pathological, empty people.

In toxic workplaces especially, you might reach an exasperation point observing these people as you wonder just why they need to inject so much unnecessary drama and politics into everything. It’s often because of an underlying boredom common with disordered people.

They need a good drama or conflict, or to create conflict division by smearing others, to brighten up their inverted inner world!

4. Destructiveness

When you get all the way to full blown psychopaths/sociopaths, and also some more malignant types of narcissist where they also have sadistic or psychopathic aspects to their personality, you’re also often dealing with an intense inner rage and destructiveness that’s projected out onto the world.

These people themselves often feel “wronged” by the world and are often playing the victim themselves, and one outlet for their inner turmoil and chaos is to cause harm to others, which in their inverted mindset, actually “inflates” them and makes them feel better.

These people often take pleasure in the suffering and downfall of others (schadenfraude), and their entire personal/work life history can be seen as one relentless mission of causing chaos and harm in the outside world, because they won’t address their own inner grief and disorder.

Of course, with most pathological personalities, their rage is more outwardly controlled and sublimated. So they’ll never admit this openly or even be aware of it consciously. There will always be an excuse for their behavior, always rationalizing, always gas-lighting, always got some clever answer for why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Or else very sneaky in the way they do it so you have to do some investigating and join some dots to uncover what they’ve said to who at different times to play people off and undermine a target.

Always remember though that with disordered people who are always trying to smear others and cause trouble in general, you’re dealing with a seriously disturbed mindset where they have to create chaos in the outer world to make themselves feel just OK, not even happy mostly (the sick, inverted mindset of Cluster B disorders).

#5. Distraction

Smear campaigns can also be a useful way for a toxic person to distract onlookers from their own inappropriate/unprofessional behavior.

It can be expedient to co-opt apathetic bystanders into smearing a target as a way of saying “look over there at this person, so you’re not looking over here at me instead”. It can be expedient for pathological personalities to create a scapegoat to take attention off themselves and their conduct.

I’ve seen this myself in both work and social circles. In my personal life, I was once living with a psychopathic housemate who’s own life was falling apart (massively behind on rent, being chased for child support, total man-child who couldn’t even cook for himself at age 42).

But to take everyone’s attention off this, he was always launching into smear campaigns and character attacks on others, including me. It’s a simple “look there, not here at me” mis-direction tactic. And if they’ surround themselves with unintelligent, undiscerning people as they often do, it’ll often work.

In workplaces, again it’s a similar idea. You might have a narcissist/psychopath manager engaging in grossly unprofessional/hypocritical conduct, but if there’s a scapegoat they can easily target and focus bystander’s attention on as a distraction, they’ll happily do it.

If you’re encountering this kind of dynamic at work, correct documentation of all their inappropriate behavior is recommended, as well as thoroughly assessing the quality of the company culture and considering moving on if the quality of people you’re around overall isn’t the best.


Using my personal experience and research to educate others about narcissists and other pathological personality types

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