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Perceptions of female narcissism in intimate partner violence: A thematic analysis

Green, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-4683-0793, Charles, K. & MacLean, R. (2019). Perceptions of female narcissism in intimate partner violence: A thematic analysis. Qualitative Methods in Psychology Bulletin(28), pp. 13-27.


This study sought to explicitly investigate manifestations of female narcissism and their attempts at self-regulation in the context of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). This novel phenomenon was explored through the lens of ex-partners’ perceptions of female narcissists. A qualitative approach using individual interviews was adopted to gain an in-depth insight of the subtleties and nuances of gender differences in narcissistic personality. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with ten male participants who reported having experienced an abusive relationship with a female narcissist. These interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Three overarching themes emerged from the data analysis: (1) Dualistic personas of narcissism; (2) The mask of femininity; (3) The hidden paradox of gender roles. Findings illustrated that perceived expressions of female narcissists depicted presentations of narcissistic vulnerability. Analysis also demonstrated that gender-related norms further shaped motives and self-regulatory strategies for females to obtain positions of power and control. These were established through adopting a ‘victim status’, playing the ‘mother card’ and using legal and societal benefits to their advantage. Female narcissists were perceived to employ strategic attempts at self-construction in sinister and abusive ways governed by what society allows them to express. It is concluded that narcissism describes a phenomenon in females that moves beyond the overt grandiose stereotype. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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