The narcissist/psychopath does not work alone.

She creates a coterie, a group of people whose job it is to elevate her publicly and privately and to play various roles in her cruel self-serving schemes.

Some coteries are temporary, cultivated for a particular project. Others last longer.

All are discarded when the N/P has no further use for them, and members may eventually become targets themselves.



“Apath” is the label often used for for members of psychopath/narcissist coteries.

Apaths are apathetic – they may be narcissists themselves and don’t care what happens to the victim, or they may be lesser psychopaths – less successful, lower status – and actually enjoy inflicting the pain, or seeing it inflicted. Some, sadly, may be basically decent people who are naturally passive and gullible or have a shaky sense of their own reality and therefore succumb easily to psychopathic/narcissistic spin.




The N/P wants something.

Let’s say he wants fast track promotion.

He’s not particularly creative himself, so he’s busy identifying those who produce good ideas so he can take them and claim them as his own. Mary is super smart, and trusting. She loves to think out loud, and loves to talk about what she’s generating. Perfect. The N/P cultivates Mary, and soon she’s telling him everything.

Now he’s looking for someone who doesn’t like Mary – someone who’s jealous of her creativity perhaps. Even better if they gossip, so they’ll spread what he tells them about his victim right around the organization. He cultivates and primes them: He’s not so sure Mary’s a team player. He’s had his concerns for a while. And he’s beginning to suspect that she might be stealing his ideas, and claiming them as her own..

The apaths will assist with character assassination of the target. They will reinforce the N/Ps accusations, attacking like a pack of jackals. They won’t question his judgement, but unquestioningly enact his desires. Accomplished members of the coterie know how to push the target’s buttons, bait and manipulate so she’ll crack under their pressure and lose her temper publicly, further diminishing her credibility.



Empaths are extremely sensitive, empathetic people. They are potentially both problematic and very attractive to the N/P.

Narcissists and psychopaths look for those who care deeply about others, give whatever they can, and believe the best about everyone. If these forgiving givers are also very physically attractive, wealthy and offer social standing, they are prized (though likely temporary) marriage partners, and can often be primed and seduced. If not, they may pose a danger to the N/P and coterie, for it is the empath who is most likely to decode their cruel and selfish behaviors. In our office scenario, she may detect the game, abhor the injustice and the victimizing and take the story to upper management.

This, the N/P knows.

He may begin to discredit the office empath before he even begins his project with the creative and unsuspecting Mary.

Both empaths and apaths are vital to the ambitions of N/Ps. Both can be utilized, drained, and if the N/Ps cares to when they’re no longer viable, effectively destroyed.



Unfortunately, this is a battle the N/P generally wins. He or she gets promoted, and the victim is dismissed, or much diminished. The N/P finds new targets, gets more and more confident as s/he climbs the corporate ladder, destroys more and more careers, and sometimes eventually the organization itself.

But the N/P herself will come out unscathed, and with generous financial rewards. She’s planned it that way from the start.



So far, there has not been enough understanding of these dynamics in organizations.

Education is key. If everyone in the organization knows enough about typical N/P motivations and behavior, there’s a good chance of changing things. If you take your story to a boss who already understands the dynamics created by N/Ps at work, the true troublemaker can be dismissed instead of promoted, and those of real value to the organization rewarded.

Education on this challenging but vital subject can produce far healthier, more successful companies, and happier, healthier employees.