I just stumbled across a wonderful article by Nancy McWilliams and Stanley Leppendorf on the everyday manifestations of narcissism. I read it a number of years ago and misplaced the only hard copy I had, so I was pleased to run across it online today. The authors examine the everyday implications of the narcissist's need to protect an internal sense of omnipotent grandiosity. They explain why the narcissist finds it difficult to apologize, show gratitude, admit error and acknowledge or admit to needs. They also comment on the experience of the person who is chronically subjected to the defensive maneuvers of the narcissist. As one patient described it, the narcissist leaves you feeling "mind-fucked."
We have put particular emphasis on the psychological encumbrance borne by the objects of essentially narcissistic transactions, whose usual response to the prolonged substitution of other behaviors for expressions of sorrow and thanks includes confusion, self-criticism, loneliness, and diffuse irritation - an overall sense of having been, as one of our patients put it. "mind-fucked." The state of confusion induced by narcissistic defenses may say something about why it took so many years for psychoanalysts to develop a rich and specific literature about narcissism, comparable to that on the more "classical" psychopathologies.
The entire article is online here. It's an easy read if you've got an analytic background, but a thoughtful lay reader will probably understand more than enough of it to find the article interesting and thought provoking. If you have difficulty with the more theoretical introductory material, the everyday examples of narcissistic defenses might make things a bit more clear as the article proceeds.