9 phrases a cerebral narcissist uses to manipulate you

A cerebral narcissist typically lacks empathy, has a constant need for validation, abhors criticism, and feels entitled to things they haven’t worked hard for.

Sounds like typical narcissistic traits?

That’s because they are. The major difference between cerebral narcissism and other types is that of intelligence.

A cerebral narcissist is essentially a know-it-all – except that they are actually smart.

The problem is that they always think they’re much smarter than they are in reality, and they use their intellectual abilities to manipulate and put down other people.

Luckily, there are certain phrases and behavioral patterns that point toward cerebral narcissism, which makes it easier for us to identify who it is we’re dealing with.


Here are the 9 phrases a cerebral narcissist uses to manipulate you.

1) “I’ve researched this…”

As we’ve already established, a cerebral narcissist’s power lies in their intellectual abilities.

Which means that they usually read a lot. Be it books, research papers, or the news, they love to surround themselves with knowledge about all sorts of things.

However, while they may like learning new information about the world, they also love to feel like they can use this newfound knowledge to make themselves appear smarter and better than others.

I used to be friends with a cerebral narcissist in the past, and let me tell you – I couldn’t win a single argument.

Every time we disagreed on something, my friend would simply say that she’d read extensively on the issue prior to the conversation or that she was highly familiar with the research conducted on the topic, which automatically made me feel like I had nothing valuable to contribute to the discussion.

If you don’t know what the other person claims to know, you can’t continue conversing unless you go and spend hours exploring the burrows of the internet by yourself.

Once you do, you might realize that the narcissist in question actually does have gaps in their knowledge or twists facts to fit their own narrative

Unfortunately, most people simply decide to trust the narcissist’s word because, well, they’ve “done their research” after all.

2) “Look, who’s more of an expert on the topic here? Me or you?”

Even if you haven’t researched something extensively, you can still bring up valuable points, ask interesting questions, and offer a healthy level of skepticism.

Someone who’s genuinely an expert on something will usually welcome that approach with open arms, answering your questions with ease and thinking over your arguments carefully.

A cerebral narcissist?

Not so much.

A person like that absolutely hates being proven wrong or feeling like they’ve been “bested” by someone less educated, which is why they’ll usually dismiss your arguments or mock you by pointing out the differences in your education levels.

“Look, you haven’t even finished university, how could you know?”

“I hold two PhDs. Trust me.”

“You clearly don’t understand how science works. Leave the thinking to the experts.”

If you think these comments sound extremely contemptuous… that’s because they are.

3) “Of course you wouldn’t know, silly”

Speaking of contempt, let’s dig a little deeper into the power of mocking someone for their lack of knowledge on a certain topic.

Cerebral narcissists love to mock others. It gives them a feeling of superiority.

Mind you, they don’t necessarily have to make it obvious.

The friend I mentioned, for instance, used to mock me in the most subtle of ways – she’d make jokes about my being a bit daft, she’d comment on my knowledge in certain areas while hiding her cruelty behind the guise of brutal honesty, and she’d use my contributions to the conversation as a springing board for her own intellectual monologues.

The problem is that if someone tells you you’re daft often enough, you soon begin to believe it. And as your trust in yourself decreases, you start to believe the validity of the narcissist’s words much more.

Thus the art of manipulation.

4) “Actually…”

Another thing cerebral narcissists love to do is to automatically invalidate every argument you put forth.

“Actually, you’re wrong there because…”

“Actually, that’s not true, you completely misunderstood…”

“Actually, I’ve read that…”


While it’s great to converse with someone who challenges you and offers intellectual stimulation, it’s another thing entirely to have everything you say immediately disproved.

The truth is, every point deserves to be heard and considered. Even if there’s very little you can take away from it, it’s helpful to hear other people out and try to understand them better.

Of course, cerebral narcissists don’t really lead discussions in order to understand people. They just want to win your admiration and manipulate you into intellectual submission.

5) “When I achieved X and won Y”

A great way to win someone’s admiration and approval is to constantly bring up one’s academic achievements.

That’s what cerebral narcissists think, anyway.

Most other people find this behavior extremely irritating, and what’s more, the effect it has on them is the complete opposite of what a cerebral narcissist strives for – instead of admiring them, we just roll our eyes in annoyance.

That doesn’t stop them from doing it, though.

“When I was working on my thesis…”

“I felt the exact same way when I was doing my PhD…”

“Remember that award I won?”

Yes, we remember. You’ve been reminding us for four years straight.

6) “You spelled it wrong”

If there’s one place cerebral narcissists thrive, it’s got to be the internet.

The ability to fight with strangers over the most minuscule of issues provides one with a great sense of importance and intellectual superiority, and if you’re at your wits’ end, you can always whip out your last-resort weapon: correcting other people’s grammar.

Who cares if their arguments are valid and logical? They’ve spelled “accommodation” wrong, so they clearly can’t be taken seriously.

And since there are many people who struggle with grammar or spelling in spite of their expert knowledge or great common sense, cerebral narcissists love to point out those linguistic weaknesses in order to undermine any opponent that comes their way.

Unless excellent grammar is part of their arsenal, Anon0394 has no chance.

7) “It seems that *words you don’t understand*”

Now that you know cerebral narcissists are in love with correct grammar, it probably doesn’t surprise you that they also go crazy for grandiose and expansive vocabulary.

Using words you’re not very likely to understand makes them feel above your level, which is exactly what they’re going for when they say stuff like, “What an idiosyncratic moment!”

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely intellectuals out there who speak in academic lingo simply because they exist in the realm of academia 24/7 and don’t realize other people may not know what a “paradigm shift” means.

However, if using high-level vocabulary is paired with the above-mentioned phrases, there’s a huge chance you’re dealing with a cerebral narcissist.

8) “That’s not what I meant”

Even the smartest of people get it wrong sometimes.

And it is exactly in these situations that we can recognize the difference between true wisdom and intellectual posturing.

If someone who’s genuinely wise makes a mistake, they aren’t afraid to admit to it and learn their lesson.

“You were right. I was wrong.” They have no issue saying these six words out loud because they have enough confidence and self-love not to let it shatter their ego.

Intellectual posers and cerebral narcissists, on the other hand, have a really hard time changing their minds and admitting they have gaps in knowledge, which is why they tend to stubbornly stick to their point of view in spite of evidence to the contrary.

And if you corner them, referring back to their previous argument, they may resort to good old gaslighting.

“That’s not what I meant. You clearly misunderstood me.”

By demeaning your ability to fully grasp their meaning, they’re once again gaining intellectual ground and twisting the narrative in their favor.

But remember that oftentimes, you actually understood the other person perfectly well. It’s only now that they’re changing the meaning because they feel they have no other option.

9) “With all due respect…”

Before a cerebral narcissist says something to put you down or mock you, they may shield themselves with phrases such as, “With all due respect” or “No offense”.

But a person like that doesn’t actually respect you, and in all likelihood, they probably don’t care about whether you feel offended or not.

They lack empathy, remember?

For them, it’s all about proving you wrong, making themselves appear smarter, and manipulating you so that they can exert more control over you.

When a cerebral narcissist says, “With all due respect,” it usually means they’re about to disrespect you.

But now that you know the nine phrases cerebral narcissists use, you’re better able to recognize when you’re being manipulated and not fall into the trap.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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