Malignant narcissists like to engage in character assassination. Oftentimes, this means taking something that’s true, and then distorting it.
It’s that little bit of truth that makes it believable. This allows them to kill your reputation, because their story is so plausible.
People who normally don’t listen to gossip often believe these lies. Narcissists are charming and persuasive. Their tales are convincing. They also deliver them in a manner that doesn’t sound like backbiting. So, people who’d normally be put off by such behavior don’t even realize it’s happening.
So, why am I writing about this maddening personality disorder on a natural health blog?
How to Recognize a Malignant Narcissist
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One reason is that I’ve had personal experience with a covert narcissist. So I know that dealing with a deceitful person is highly stressful.
Stress is very bad for your health. On this site, I discuss natural ways to reduce stress. Sometimes, in order to have emotional peace, you need to look at your relationships. Destructive people deserve less of your time. Or, you may need to sever ties completely.
Also, many people might be dealing with a malicious person, but may not not realize it. It could be a friend, a neighbor or a coworker. Once they recognize the signs, they can take steps to safeguard their physical and mental health.
Female Malignant Narcissists
One more thing. I want to tell the world that female narcissists exist. There are competitive, malicious women out there. They employ horrific, underhanded techniques, designed to destroy their rivals.
Also, in some of my posts about malignant narcissism, I stress the need to forgive the person who hurt you. That’s because staying angry will eventually do you in, one way or another.
However, it’s important to never give this person an opportunity to abuse you again. That’s where discernment comes in.
Knowledge is power. Toward the end of this article, I will list some of the signs of narcissism, so, hopefully, going forward, you’ll be able to recognize these fakers. Their behavior is much like that of a sociopath, a more familiar term.
What I’ve Learned About Malignant Narcissism
Please understand that I’m not a mental health professional. So I don’t have all the answers about this puzzling and prevalent disorder. But I do have some personal insights, which I’m happy to share.
If you talk with people who’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, you’ll eventually learn a new word. It’s called “narcology.” It pertains to the maddening traits of someone who suffers from this all-too-common character disorder.
Survivors have developed their own lingo about these malicious narcissists, who’ve managed to reach adulthood without developing any empathy.
Narcissism and Bullying
Wherever they go, narcissists cut a wide swatch of destruction. The lie, cheat, embezzle, gossip and refuse to accept responsibility. They always have a target. They’ll go to the ends of the earth to isolate and humiliate this person. They don’t seem to be happy, unless they are making someone else miserable.
If this is your first introduction to narcissism and other antisocial personality disorders, and you’ve been wondering why your life has become so chaotic, there are some excellent resources available. (I just wish I knew about them before my encounter with a narcissist. But, better late than never.) The book Narcissists Exposed clues you in on some of their games.
Malignant Narcissistic Character Assassination
The narcissist is the one with the problem. He or she is devious and divisive. A workplace or social setting that includes one of these characters will soon turn toxic. (Trust me, this will cause immense stress if you don’t remove yourself from the situation.)
Plus, if you’re the target, you’ll get blamed for it. Here’s why.
The narc will convince everyone else that you’re the one causing trouble. If, somehow, you can just leave, peace will reign and everyone will be happy again. (This is why workplace bullies typically succeed in driving their target out of a job.)
How Does a Narcissist Operate?
Malignant narcissists appear angelic to nearly everyone else. Consequently, most people are fooled. So these bystanders also turn on the target, compounding the anguish.
In many ways, malignant narcissists are amazingly similar. So if you meet one, it’s almost as if you’ve just met them all.
They share common characteristics. They engage in the same antisocial behaviors. These include gaslighting, grooming, favoritism, discarding and narcissistic rage.
Gaslighting is particular sinister. It’s named after a vintage movie called Gaslight, in which a deranged husband tried to drive his wife crazy by moving objects in their house, and then denying what he did. In real life, a narcissist may set up little scenarios designed for confusion. Then, he or she will try to convince you that your perceptions are wrong. Over time, you begin to doubt yourself.
Malignant Narcissism Antisocial Personality Disorder
Remember that term “narcology,” which I used earlier? It isn’t like psychology or sociology. You can’t earn a degree at a university in this particular specialty. But, if you’ve ever been involved with a malignant narcissist, you’ve learned some valuable life lessons that no amount of formal education could ever impart.
(However, there is a medical sub-specialty of the same name, which focuses on drug and alcohol abuse.)
You’ll learn never to judge someone by their outward appearance. Some of the most put-together and successful people could be suffering from this disorder. Only those closest to them would ever have a clue.
In the case of a female narcissist (trust me, they do exist), her children may not have seen her in weeks. She’s jetting around the world, after clawing her way to the top of a Fortune 500 company. Her family knows that something is very wrong, because she’s never around. But they don’t miss her either. She’s miserable to live with. However, no one looking in from the outside would ever guess.
Covert Malignant Narcissism
Or, you might have met that “saintly” man at your parish. Everyone is sure he’s a saint. He practically lives at church, heading up every committee. However, he seems to have it in for the parish secretary. She cowers when he walks past her. His family members are also well aware of his sarcastic and sadistic streak.
This is someone who fits the description of covert malignant narcissism. It’s my personal feeling these are the most dangerous kind. The “saintly” cover allows them to get away with a lot.
Once you’ve met one or more malignant narcissists, you’ll develop a much deeper appreciation for the normally wired individuals, who care about others and deal with people honestly.
Malignant Narcissists in History
Narcissism is not new, as anyone who’s ever read a the Bible or a history book can discern. An individual capable of giving orders to commit mass murder has something lacking in the empathy department. Many kings and rulers down through the ages were probably malignant narcissists.
Malignant Narcissism and Evil
But there is something about our present age that makes a lot of people wonder if, perhaps, malignant narcissism is a scourge of our times. My own educated (or uneducated) guess is that it’s more prevalent today. But, bear in mind, I don’t have a formal degree in psychology or sociology, just a lot of informal training in narcology.
The disorder was first described by the late German psychologist Eric Fromm. He believed it was “the quintessence of evil.”
Make no mistake. Malicious and manipulative people are dangerous. In his book, Dangerous Personalities, retired FBI agent Joe Navarro arms you with information on how to spot them.
Malignant Narcissism Syndrome
People who’ve been abused by a malignant narcissist first spend time wallowing in the darkness. Then, eventually, it dawns on them that it’s not their issue. Instead, the perpetrator is the one with the problem.
They begin to understand this is a fundamental character flaw. Psychologists believe malignant narcissism is permanent.
However, I believe in God, and in miracles. So I think know He can change hearts. In the case of a malignant narcissist, it’s going to take this sort of Heavenly intervention, because such a person is very resistant to reforming themselves.
Malignant Narcissism How to Deal
Eventually, with any luck, a narc’s target will stumble across good reading material that describes this disorder. Next he or she has to decide what to do, and how to stop the abuse. Typically, this means distancing yourself from an overgrown bully. For instance, if this person is your boss, and she’s making you miserable, looking for a new job may be the logical next step.
One of the best ways of learning about narcissists is by spending time on various online forums. There are a lot of people who’ve walked the walk. They want to help you maneuver your way out of a bad situation, or, if this isn’t possible, to at least set very firm limits on what you’re willing to accept.
Malignant Narcissistic Friend
Most of my own experience with malignant narcissism comes from a chosen relationship. This was someone I met at church. This “friendship” was destructive, to say the least. Reading the online forums helped me gain clarity. I realized why my life had become so complicated. I immediately cut ties with this person, while continuing to pray for her. (I’m Catholic.) Here is a book I’ve written about my experience.
With my new “degree” in narcology, I then decided to start writing about this disorder. I know so many others are at the receiving end of abuse, from one or more of their “friends.”
Malignant Narcissism Characteristics
Online support allows you to ask questions and gather information anonymously. You can learn about narcissism and bounce your ideas off of others who’ve been there. It’s much safer than discussing it in real life.
That’s because there’s a risk in confiding in anyone who knows the abuser. Narcissists are very good at gathering information. Unless the person you confide in is rock-solid trustworthy, there’s always the chance, no matter how slim, the narcissist will learn about this conversation. The details will be used to further discredit you.
Also, it’s not good to talk about others, even if the bad things they’ve done are true. Going online frees you from having to do that.
However, you do have to be very careful about some of the people you “meet” online. Disordered individuals are known to troll abuse forums.
What about going to a therapist? There’s risk involved in this as well. Although exact figures are impossible to come by, a certain percentage of therapists have their own character disorders. You don’t want to find yourself bearing your soul to another malignant narcissist.
Malignant Narcissism Manipulation
The experts tell us that we shouldn’t attempt to diagnose anyone. However, it’s a good idea to keep your eyes open for red flag behavior. Here are a few of the giveaways typically displayed by highly manipulative people. (Please note this is my non-professional assessment, unfortunately, gleaned from personal experience.)
- A heightened sense of entitlement. This is one of the most common indicators that you’re dealing with someone who gets a kick out of mistreating others. He or she may expect all kinds of favors, but will not reciprocate, or, if asked to, will have a ready excuse.
- Is unable to offer empathy. That’s because people suffering from narcissistic personality disorder are deficient in this department.
- Impulsive behavior. Lacking the maturity you’d expect for someone of his or her chronological age, a malignant narcissist may make a series of rash decisions.
- Inability to control anger. Sometimes, especially as you are getting to know a narcissist, you will see this only as lightening-like flashes of rage, quickly followed by a smile. Take this warning sign very seriously.
- Arrogant or haughty behavior. Not all narcissists come across this way. But pay attention when you see this.
- Lying. Compulsive lying and malignant narcissism go hand in hand. How can you tell when a narcissist is lying? Answer: When her lips are moving.
- The Pity Ploy. Morally disordered people can fool even the experts. In her book, The Sociopath Next Door, Dr. Martha Stout, PhD. explained that there is no foolproof way to spot someone with antisocial character traits. However, she notes, they may give us one clue. This is the pity ploy. So, watch out if a new acquaintance tries to play the pity card.
- Stories that Don’t Line Up. If someone’s story doesn’t line up, or if you get a vague sense that something is off, pay attention. For instance, female narcissists make lousy mothers, despite their claims to the contrary. They may spend little time with their children, often dropping them off at a friend’s house, so they can have time to themselves. They rarely reciprocate. Or, they may work so many hours that they rarely see their children.
- An Uneasy Feeling. If you get an uneasy, uncomfortable feeling whenever you’re around a certain person, listen to your intuition.
For Additional Reading
How To Spot a Dangerous Treacherous Person
Apparently, there’s no foolproof way of spotting a dangerous and treacherous person at the outset. I wish there was. But, unfortunately, these master deceivers can fool even trained professionals.
However, there are some warning signs you should never ignore. These are often apparent right in the beginning. However, we tend to ignore them because narcissists are so charming. Armed with this new knowledge, I’ve been able to head off a couple of disasters.