Malignant Narcissism

W24zith all the information available about narcissism and narcissistic personalities, chances are you’ve heard the term “malignant narcissism.” But exactly what the term means and why a certain kind of narcissism warrants such a special descriptor is not very clear to many. And while it’s hard to imagine any kind of narcissism that’s completely “benign,” it’s worth understanding why the particular brand of narcissism professionals call “malignant” is cause for grave concern whenever it’s present to any significant degree in someone’s personality structure.

The term narcissism has been around for a long time and is derived from the mythical character Narcissus, who, as the ancient Greek story goes, was a strikingly handsome and gifted young man (and who obviously knew it!) who was not at all phased by the relentless amorous advances of a nymph but instead fell head over heels in love with his own reflection as he gazed upon it in a pool of water. Narcissus, it seemed, found all he’d ever dreamed of in perfect complement to himself in himself.  Narcissism is, therefore, not the healthy love of self that leads to adaptive self-protection and care but rather the abnormal and unhealthily haughty perception of oneself as such an idol that one has no real need for anyone else.

Classical psychological paradigms conceptualized narcissistic individuals as necessarily insecure individuals who unconsciously compensated for their underlying low self-esteem with their braggadocio.  Today we know that although there are indeed some “neurotic” narcissists, there are also many more vain and self-centered folks who really believe in their superiority through and through. Such individuals are far more character-disordered than they are neurotic and their inflated views of themselves are not an anxious compensation but rather a sincere belief.  And they can be a monumental challenge to deal with, work with, and live with.

Narcissism is common during our early stages of growth. But most of us eventually grow to develop a healthier balance of perspective with respect to our regard for ourselves versus our regard for and need of others.  When a person enters adulthood retaining the narcissistic tendencies they had as a child, there’s bound to be lots of trouble in their relationships.

Narcissism becomes particularly “malignant” (i.e. malevolent, dangerous, harmful, incurable) when it goes beyond mere vanity and excessive self-focus. Malignant narcissists not only see themselves as superior to others but believe in their superiority to the degree that they view others as relatively worthless, expendable, and justifiably exploitable.  This type of narcissism is a defining characteristic of psychopathy/sociopathy and is rooted in an individual’s deficient capacity for empathy.  It’s almost impossible for a person with such shallow feelings and such haughtiness to really care about others or to form a conscience with any of the qualities we typically associate with a humane attitude, which is why most researchers and thinkers on the topic of psychopathy think of psychopaths as individuals without a conscience altogether.

I’ve posted several times before on the issues of narcissism and malignant narcissism (see, for example:  Psychopathy and Sociopathy, and Malignant Narcissism:  At the Core of Psychopathy).  And of course, I explore the topics in all my books, In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome.  But in the upcoming brief series of articles, I’m going to examine narcissism from some new angles and in some unusual depth, using examples from case histories to illustrate not only how detrimental to one’s personality formation this trait can be but also how much damage it’s capable of inflicting in relationships when it reaches malignant proportions.

Stay tuned.

Dr George Simon,  December 27, 2013

malignant narcissist

More posts featuring Dr George Simon:

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Heartless Characters Think Differently

November 3, 2017
By Dr. George Simon

whitemaskHeartless Thinking
makes
Heartless Characters

Heartless Characters can be largely born the way they are. That is, the most disturbed among us have an innately impaired capacity to care. But folks lacking in empathy also tend to think in certain ways. And those ways of thinking lead them to form problematic attitudes and patterns of behavior. Moreover, engaging in those patterns both engenders and reinforces heartlessness.

sociopath Continue reading…


“They look like us, but they are extremely smooth at deceiving and come in many forms!”

 

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More posts featuring Dr George Simon:


 

Lack of Empathy

Sociopaths lack the capacity for empathy.

  • Sociopaths have a profound lack of empathy for the feelings of others.
    They lack the internal feedback system by which normal people monitor themselves. (Most people call this “conscience,” which is probably as useful a term as any.) Sociopaths do not have this and don’t feel bad about abusing other people. It’s not that they feel bad and ignore it—they don’t feel it at all.true-empathy
  • Sociopaths understand that they are different from normal people and learn to mimic normal behavior. This mimicry has a purpose: It gets the sociopath what he or she wants.FakeFeelings
  • The sociopath hides his or her difference. After letting it show a time or two—and probably being punished by a parent as a result—the sociopath covers up the truth and keeps it covered. But the reason for hiding it is not embarrassment (the sociopath doesn’t feel embarrassment), but because it hinders him from getting what he want.
  • Since sociopaths have no empathy for others, making use of normal people feels just fine to them. Likewise, they feel no remorse.insincerity
  • Empathy, as viewed by the sociopath, is a weakness, and he considers himself superior because he isn’t burdened by it.LackEmpathy
  • Because they lack an internal feedback system, sociopaths are excellent liars. For example, they can often pass lie detector tests, since those tests register the effects of our internal feedback system, which they don’t have.PsychoLiars
  • A sociopath is likely to maintain a group of people who believe wholeheartedly that he is a good, kind, honest person. He’ll work in calculated ways to create and maintain that opinion in them.fooled

From They Walk Among Us by Paul Rosenberg


Good Deeds by Bad People?

gooddevilDo psychopaths ever experience empathy or compassion? Are they ever inclined to help someone in need—without an ulterior motive? Are there psychopaths who do more good in the world than your average apath or bleeding heart empath?

Read the article by James, psychopath:
Doing something nice for no reason

at No Psychos, No Druggies, No Stooges


You could be a psychopath if you don’t yawn.

By ANTHONY JOSEPH for MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 11:55 EST, 15 August 2015 | UPDATED: 13:38 EST, 15 August 2015


Want to see if someone is a psychopath or not? Try yawning at them. If they yawn back, you’re okay and proceed to befriending them if you wish. If they don’t, perhaps steer clear—they could be distinctly anti-social.

Scientists reveal that people with low empathy levels don’t copy the gestures of others. 

  • Scientists have found that the more psychopathic characteristics people have, the less they are affected by ‘contagious yawning’
  • Researchers from Baylor University tested 135 students for anti-social traits
  • Those who scored highly on ‘cold-heartedness’ were less likely to yawn when shown video clips of facial expressions

Most people will yawn if someone around them yawns. Normal mammals are said to be unable to resist ‘contagious yawning.’

US President Barack Obama yawns during the East Asia Summit plenary session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012US President Barack Obama yawns during the East Asia
Summit plenary session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012

The researchers from Baylor University in Texas published their findings in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Read more: Psychopaths don’t yawn study

See also:


The Relationship Between Empaths and Narcissists

August 22, 2010 · by Lorna Tedder ·

Real empaths feel too much.  Real narcissists don’t seem to feel anything, or at least not in regard to others’ feelings.  Showing your vulnerable side to a narcissist in an attempt to explain how his or her behavior might be hurtful will just invite more abuse.

Whereas the narcissist doesn’t connect well or much with others, the empath connects too much. The empath literally feels what someone else feels, whether it’s strong emotion or physical pain.

Continue reading The Relationship between Empaths and Narcissists.


See also:


How to Spot a Sociopath: 11 Traits

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The Red Flags

Sociopaths are manipulative, and some are dangerous. If you know someone with several of the following attributes, your best bet is to stay away from them.

 1  Superficial Charm

 2  Narcissistic

 3  Pathological Lying

 4  Manipulative and Cunning

 5  Shallow Emotions

 6  Lack of Remorse, Shame, Or Guilt

 7  Incapable of Human Attachment

 8  Constant Need for Stimulation

 9  Lack of Empathy

10  Poor Behavioral Controls / Impulsive Nature

11  Promiscuous Sexual Behavior / Infidelity

If you have a sociopath in your life, especially in a romantic relationship, you are going to suffer. Avoid these people. Don’t be fooled by their charms—it is just an act to get what they want. Sociopaths are extremely cold-hearted. The only person they care about is themselves. They see all other people only in terms of usefulness and as potential targets.

via How to Spot a Sociopath: 11 Signs & Traits of A Sociopath.


The Empath Strikes Back

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You, too, can start a blog and share your experiences. Your voice will contribute to educating the public and spreading awareness about psychopathy. We can diminish the powers of evil-doers hiding behind “masks of sanity” by exposing them. Our combined voices will empower potential victims and future generations to guard themselves against abuse, improving their chances to live happier, more productive lives.

It’s easy to start a WordPress blog, and free. Click here!


Empaths are Targets

Empath Targets


Empathic people are natural targets
Often empaths are targeted by sociopaths because they pose the greatest threat. The empath is usually the first to detect that something is not right and express what s/he senses. As a consequence…
Continue reading…


The Dance – Sociopath and Empath
They LOVE to watch their empath target squirm. They LOVE to watch as they manipulate everyone around them into believing it’s all the fault of the empath. They LOVE the feeling of absolute CONTROL…
Continue reading…


Narcissists and Empaths: The Ego Dynamic | Let Me Reach
One popular theory is that Narcissists prey on Empaths and Sensitives because of their overly giving nature. While that is primarily true, there is another reason that goes even deeper, and it has to do with ego…
Continue reading…


The Transitional Target | Narcissist, Sociopath, and Psychopath…
Targets often experience cognitive dissonance, trying to project their own reasoning onto an unreasonable person. But their behavior is neither accidental nor unintentional…
Continue reading…


Dark Souls—Better the Devil | Empaths | Abused Empaths
There is no question when it comes to attracting Dark Souls, in particular sociopaths and psychopaths, that they can target and con anyone. However, it’s very difficult for anyone to understand that the psychopathic personality goes out with the sole purpose of intentionally victimizing anyone they come into contact with…
Continue reading…

SociopathTargets

See also:


The Sociopath-Empath-Apath Triad

In The Sociopath at the Breakfast Table, the authors describe an incident or exchange involving a sociopath as a sociopathic transaction. Here’s the typical arrangement:

  • Sociopath — the one with the personality disorder.
  • Empath — an individual who is highly perceptive, insightful and sensitive to another’s emotions.
  • Apath — someone who is apathetic and likely to do the sociopath’s bidding.

This threesome is required for a sociopathic transaction to be effective and it usually unfolds something like this: On seeing the sociopath say or do something underhanded, the empath is forced to make a stand. The empath challenges the sociopath, who throws others off the scent by shifting the blame to the empath. The empath becomes an object of abuse when the apath corroborates the sociopath’s perspective. Ultimately, the situation usually ends badly for the empath, and sometimes also for the apath (if his conscience comes back to haunt him or subsequently he becomes an object of abuse himself). The sociopath often gets off scot-free and can continue to abuse with impunity.


See also:


Men Who Hate Women

 

Misogynist Narcissists

Heterosexual women bear the brunt of narcissistic heterosexual men’s hostility, according to a 2010 study.

Narcissists’ lack of empathy, feelings of entitlement, and perceptions of being deprived of ‘deserved’ admiration and gratification can make them prone to aggression and vengeance.

The results from this study reveal that straight men’s narcissism is linked to an adversarial and angry stance toward straight women more than toward other groups. Although narcissists may want to maintain feelings of superiority and power over all people, narcissistic heterosexual men are particularly invested in subordinating heterosexual women because they are “gatekeepers in men’s quest for sexual pleasure, patriarchal power and status,” the study authors explain.

Another conclusion from the study is that male narcissists believe that heterosexual relationships should be patriarchal rather than egalitarian.

Read the full article.

misogyny_hard_to_spell

Almost a Psychopath

Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy?

AlmostaPsychopath

Do you know someone who is manipulative and full of himself? Does someone you know charm the masses yet lack the ability to deeply connect with anyone?

Grandiosity and exaggerated self-worth. Pathological lying. Manipulation. Lack of remorse. Shallowness. Exploitation. These are the qualities of Almost Psychopaths. They are not the deranged criminals or serial killers that might be coined “psychopaths” in the movies or on TV. They are spouses, coworkers, bosses, neighbors, and people in the news who exhibit many of the same behaviors as a full-blown psychopath, but with less intensity and consistency.

In Almost a Psychopath, Ronald Schouten, MD, JD, and James Silver, JD, draw on scientific research and their own experiences to help you identify if you are an Almost Psychopath and, if so, guide you to interventions and resources to change your behavior.

If you think you have encountered an Almost Psychopath, they offer practical tools to help you: recognize the behavior, attitudes, and characteristics of the Almost Psychopath; make sense of interactions you’ve had with Almost Psychopaths; devise strategies for dealing with them in the present; make informed decisions about your next steps; and learn ways to help an Almost Psychopath get better control of their behavior.

Click the book cover to read more.


Covert Narcissism

Covert narcissists are skilled at appearing “normal”. They choose a victim they feel they can dominate or manipulate, and they choose opportunities to abuse their victim when there are no witnesses or in a passive-aggressive, underhanded manner so that their secret mean streak isn’t exposed to others. Motivated by self-preservation and self gain, they lack fail-safes, such as empathy or a moral conscience, against selfish behavior that is harmful to others. Denial is a characteristic of the disorder. They can be highly critical of other people’s behavior, but they always feel righteous about their own.spotanarc

Rationalizing Psychopathic Traits

NoEmotions

In our understanding of the world around us, we are restricted by the framework of our knowledge and beliefs. When we try to make sense of other people’s behavior, our minds rationalize to avoid cognitive dissonance, or contradicting beliefs, sometimes resulting in unrealistic perceptions. The decisions we base on those perceptions will be ineffective or inappropriate at best, while in a worst case scenario; they could lead to a lifetime of misery or death.

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Lovefraud.com: Saving the World


imageChristopher Lane, a 22-year old Australian student visiting his girlfriend in Oklahoma, was shot and killed by teenagers—because they were bored.

image

Two childhood best friends killed teenager Katelyn Wolfe for a thrill and then bound her body, attached it to a weight and threw it into a lake.


5 steps to change the world

1 Acknowledge that sociopaths exist. This is more radical than it may sound. For many of us, it means abandoning a belief we have held a lifetime; that “there’s good in everyone.” While that is true in most cases, it is critical to understand that there are exceptions and that they are not easily recognized.

Read about the other 4 steps at Lovefraud.com.



No conscience = more options

Cloak of Conscience from the front

Cloak of Conscience

“Truth and reason are of no value to narcissists and psychopaths. Their aim is to defeat, exploit, and dominate—and not get caught. Lacking a conscience, they are free to use any method that will give them the upper hand without any ethical inhibitions standing in their way. Abusive people don’t feel that they owe their victims, or anyone else, a reason for their behavior. By ignoring requests for an explanation, they enjoy the sense of power they get from denying their victim the most basic respect.”

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Dealing with Resisters

outsider

Psychopaths dominate because most people are brainwashed to be victims. There occasionally are people with partial resistance. They are isolated and the psychopaths can easily discredit and remove them.

Why is it so hard to hold psychopathic abusers accountable?


 

Without Conscience

Because they play dirty. They don’t follow any rules of civil interaction. Lacking a conscience, they have no moral constraints on their behavior, and when confronted, they simply deny their evil deeds. They couldn’t care less about civility, decency, morality, or honor as long as their actions pay out and their unethical behavior is kept under the public radar. They are free to lie, con, deceive, manipulate, intimidate, incriminate, or use any other trick in the book.

chesskingWe may not recognize the disingenuous conniving techniques they use to control and manipulate. An experienced abuser is extraordinarily devious and almost impossible to pin down. Primed with denial strategies, he’s always ahead of the game.

Psychopaths use numerous deception tactics to create and maintain a respectable, virtuous, likable—maybe even admirable—public persona that deceives the best of us. They take advantage of our tendency to not recognize evidence that contradicts our beliefs, such as dishonesty and other lowly character traits in an individual who has ‘won’ our trust, respect, and appreciation. The persona provides a cover for devious schemes, exploitation, and abuse. 

A psychopathic individual may believe that all of us play the same game—only he is smarter and superior while most other people are weak and inferior pushovers. Until understanding of psychopathy becomes widespread public knowledge, the predator’s hunting grounds will remain saturated with easy prey.

 Persona: the aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.

MessyRule3

Related articles

When Compassion is a Mistake

compassion

What our gut tells us a manipulator is like, challenges everything we’ve been taught to believe about human nature. We’ve been inundated with a psychology that has us seeing everybody, at least to some degree, as afraid, insecure or “hung-up.” So, while our gut tells us we’re dealing with a ruthless conniver, our head tells us they must be really frightened or wounded “underneath.” What’s more, most of us generally hate to think of ourselves as callous and insensitive people. We hesitate to make harsh or seemingly negative judgments about others. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don’t really harbor the malevolent intentions we suspect. We’re more apt to doubt and blame ourselves for daring to believe what our gut tells us about our manipulator’s character.

empathy

Victims of Psychopaths: True Stories

From DailyStrength.org

psychopath victim

“Is he beyond a narcissist? Is he a sociopath or psychopath? Think we’re only talking about serial killers here? Psychopaths, sociopaths, and even narcissists come in every walk of life, every career level, and every socio-economic category. They are doctors, attorneys, ministers, students, and truck drivers. They are realtors, construction workers, and professors. They are your boss, your neighbor, your family member, and your lover or husband. You might even be with one now and not know.”

psychopath victim

Read the victims’ personal accounts and notice the similarities
between the psychopathic abusers that they describe!


They seem completely normal.

 

ASPD

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder are self-centered and remorseless. They do not care about the feelings of others.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Perhaps most frightening is that they often seem completely normal.
 
 
 

Men who hate women

Aside

Misogynist narcissists

Heterosexual women bear the brunt of narcissistic heterosexual men’s hostility, according to a 2010 study.

Narcissists’ lack of empathy, feelings of entitlement, and perceptions of being deprived of ‘deserved’ admiration and gratification can make them prone to aggression and vengeance.

The results from this study reveal that straight men’s narcissism is linked to an adversarial and angry stance toward straight women more than toward other groups. Although narcissists may want to maintain feelings of superiority and power over all people, narcissistic heterosexual men are particularly invested in subordinating heterosexual women because they are “gatekeepers in men’s quest for sexual pleasure, patriarchal power and status,” the study authors explain.

Another conclusion from the study is that male narcissists believe that heterosexual relationships should be patriarchal rather than egalitarian.

Read the full article.

Nature vs Nurture

“When it comes to nature vs nurture I’ll say this: 
A psychopath is born, a sociopath is created.”

Ted Bundy in custody

It is well established by scientists that psychopaths are born without the capacity for empathy. The parts of the brain and certain connections that are responsible for giving us a conscience are different in psychopaths. Upbringing and childhood experiences will affect other aspects of an individual’s personality but they do not cause this disorder. A psychopath can come from a loving family and have had a good childhood. Ted Bundy is an example. For the rest of us, it’s very important to understand how they function and to know that they will not change, no matter how kind and tolerant we are towards them. If anything, they will take advantage of a well meaning person. They regard compassion as weakness. Many of us compensate for our feelings of inferiority in different ways. Psychopaths and narcissists are different. They genuinely believe that they are superior and entitled to special treatment.