The Narcissism Test—What’s Your Score?

By Dr. Craig Malkin
Author, Clinical Psychologist, Instructor Harvard Medical School
Posted: 07/13/2015, Updated: 07/14/2015

Narcissism is hot. Which should make narcissists very happy.

But it’s also widely—and wildly—misunderstood, due in large part to widespread caricatures of narcissists, who are invariably depicted as vain, primping braggarts.

The problem is that many narcissists, particularly the more introverted ones, who pride themselves not on looks, but on being sensitive and misunderstood, couldn’t give a fig about fame or money. You might not even realize you’ve met one. And people end up falling unhappily in love with quieter narcissists, confused by their fate, because their distress stems from a brand of unhealthy narcissism they never knew existed. To date, in fact, there are three kinds of narcissism, which I describe in Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad—And Surprising Good—About Feeling Special. We may start finding more.

Then there’s the problem of that pesky qualifier, unhealthy.

Many would object, saying that narcissism is inherently unhealthy. And certainly the most popular narcissism assessment to date, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), assumes that all narcissism is bad; each and every point you score on the test inches you closer to being branded a “narcissist.” The problem is even the NPI picks up healthy components of narcissism; there’s hard evidence that one piece of the inventory, which captures extroverted leaders more than disagreeable blowhards, is associated with being a happy, healthy, if somewhat more ambitious human being.

So to summarize: three kinds of narcissism; healthy and unhealthy narcissism; and a bunch of measures that capture arrogance and grandiosity of various kinds—one of which accidentally captures healthy narcissism.

Read the full article:
The Narcissism Test—What’s Your Score? | Dr. Craig Malkin.


Do you know someone who has a poor sense of smell?


Psychopaths have a remarkably poor sense of smell, according to a study published in 2012.


Researchers in Australia tested a theory that psychopathy may be linked to impaired smell ability. Both phenomena have been independently traced to dysfunction in part of the brain called the orbito-frontal complex (OFC).

Mehmet Mahmut and Richard Stevenson of the Department of Psychology at Sydney’s Macquarie University trialled the olfactory skills of 79 individuals, aged 19 to 21, who had been diagnosed as non-criminal psychopaths. Using “Sniffin’ Sticks” – 16 pens that contain different scents, such as orange, coffee, and leather – they found the participants had problems in correctly identifying the smell, and then discriminating it against a different odor. Those who scored highest on a standard scorecard of psychopathic traits did worst on both counts. The finding could be useful for identifying psychopaths, who are famously manipulative in the face of questioning, says the paper. “Olfactory measures represent a potentially interesting marker for psychopathic traits, because performance expectancies are unclear in odor tests and may therefore be less susceptible to attempts to fake ‘good’ or ‘bad’ responses.”

The OFC is a front part of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, planning and behaving in line with social norms. It also appears to be important in processing olfactory signals, although the precise function is unclear. The study makes clear that a poor sense of smell does not by itself mean that someone is a psychopath. Olfactory dysfunction can also occur in schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Read article.

The Psychopath Brain

The Disconnection of Psychopaths

Functional connectivity between the right amygdala and anterior vmPFC is reduced in psychopaths. From Fig. 2 of Motzkin et al., (2011).

What is psychopathy, exactly? According to Ermer and colleagues (2011):

Psychopathy is a serious personality disorder marked by affective and interpersonal deficiencies, as well as behavioral problems and antisocial tendencies (Cleckley, 1976). Affective and interpersonal traits (termed Factor 1) include callousness and a profound inability to experience remorse, guilt, and empathy; antisocial and behavioral problems (termed Factor 2) include impulsivity, stimulation seeking, and irresponsibility. These symptoms tend to manifest at an early age, continue throughout adulthood, and pervade numerous aspects of psychopaths’ daily functioning.

As for the brain regions implicated in psychopathy, dysfunction in the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) have been suspected for quite some time (Abbott, 2001Blair, 2007Koenigs et al., 2011). From this perspective, a recent study on the structural and functional connectivity of these two regions (Motzkin et al., 2011) isn’t entirely groundbreaking. Read more…

Psychopathy is the greatest obstacle…


Psychopathy is “the greatest obstacle in development of personality and social groups”.  “The general inability to recognize the psychological type of such individuals [i.e. psychopaths] causes immense suffering, mass terror, violent oppression, genocide and the decay of civilization… As long as the suggestive [i.e. hypnotic, charming, “spellbinding”] power of the psychopaths is not confronted with facts and with moral and practical consequences of his doctrine, entire social groups may succumb to his demagogic appeal”.

Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902–1980)

Political Ponerology

Bullies get a kick out of seeing others in pain.

Brain scans of teens with a history of aggressive bullying behavior suggest that they may actually get pleasure out of seeing someone else in pain. While this may come as little surprise to those who have been victimized by bullies, it is not what the researchers expected.

The reason they were surprised is because the prevailing view is that these kids are cold and unemotional in their aggression.

“It is entirely possible their brains are lighting in the way they are because they experience seeing pain in others as exciting and fun and pleasurable,” said one researcher.

“We need to test that hypothesis more, but that is what it looks like,” he added.

The Bullies Have All Gone to RestRelated articles

The psychopathic brain

An underlying cause for psychopathic behavior?

April 27, 2010

prefrontal cortexPsychopaths are known for their callousness, diminished capacity for remorse, and lack of empathy. However, the exact cause of these personality traits is an area of scientific debate. The results of a new study show striking similarities between the mental impairments observed in psychopaths and those seen in patients with frontal lobe damage.

One previous explanation for psychopathic tendencies has been a reduced capacity to make inferences about the mental states of other people, an ability known as Theory of Mind (ToM). On the other hand, psychopaths are also known to be extremely good manipulators and deceivers, which would imply that they have good skills in inferring the knowledge, needs, intentions, and beliefs of other people. Therefore, it has been suggested recently that ToM is made up of different aspects: a cognitive part, which requires inferences about knowledge and beliefs, and another part which requires the understanding of emotions.

Read the whole article.