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Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) - Malignant Self-Love/Narcissism

Malignant Self-Love/Narcissism

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Malignant Narcissism

Upon searching the internet for the subject of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) you will most likely stumble upon an endless amount of confusing information regarding the personality disorder. Generally, most people have come to believe that a 'narcissist' is somebody who is simply in love with their self causing them to become vain and big-headed. This isn't really the nature of the narcissist as this isn't their true self.

The truth is that narcissists have a deeply embedded invisible psychological barrier, made up of a false sense of self-esteem (ego) behind which their true emotions and persona are hidden away. Behind this virtually impenetrable exterior narcissists are actually feel weak emotionally and behind the facade they suffer with extremely low self-esteem. They repress awareness of their hatred and contempt, not just for themselves, but for just about everything around them also, which is usually caused by some kind of long term emotionally/mentally damaging subjective experience (abuse).

Narcissism is a natural defense mechanism, a normal human trait which we all possess, but in narcissists has been triggered into overdrive - that is, it has become malignant.

How Does the Disorder Work?

Narcissists build a false sense of self-worth from narcissistic supply (attention, adoration, adulation) which helps to regulate their ego and they often do this by using and slandering the people around them, sometimes showing off and putting other people down in order to make themselves feel and look good; they may carelessly and severely damage the lives of people around them in doing so.

Narcissists are experts at psychological manipulation and mental and emotional abuse. When confronted narcissists make projections, they twist the evidence to make it look like everyone else is wrong and that they are right and furthermore, that they are the one being victimized - they play the victim oh so convincingly. If in a relationship the narcissist manipulates their relationship partner to reflect the behavior desired in them so that the partner acts out the narcissist's rage for them - the partner will have already been ostracized behind their back, usually starting very early into the relationship, so that people around them start to believe that the real victim is the one who is mentally unstable.

Over long-term periods of time the disguised abuse gradually wears down at the psyche of the partner of the narcissist, eventually leaving them feeling like their soul is being worn down and crushed, though the victim often does not consciously realize or understand what is happening or why, the abuse is simply too well disguised and insidious in nature - usually it's the narcissist's partner who ends up having to go to therapy to learn how to deal with them and is the one left scratching their head wondering 'is it me?'

Narcissists can sometimes be extremely paranoid to the point where they will go off the rails if they so much as hear that someone has mentioned their name, even if in innocent conversation. Narcissists develop an obsessive compulsion to uphold the false sense of self that they have created, it has become a part of them and it needs to be consistently and constantly fed.

When in conversation narcissists usually discuss everything in the manner of how it relates to them or their own past experiences therefore giving the illusion that they are in love with themselves - In reality the opposite is usually the case, deep down inside narcissists are emotionally scarred and weak and have repressed their true emotions resulting in a callous, shallow exterior - a highly evolved and highly elaborate defense mechanism which acts to protect the hidden inner emotions.

There are actually various types and sub-types of malignant narcissism/NPD, despite what you may read about narcissists being either cerebral or somatic. A somatic narcissist is someone who uses their body for constant attention by becoming a satyr (if male) or a nymphomaniac (if female). A cerebral narcissist gains this attention by showing off their intelligence and sometimes finances to make others seem inferior. There are also many other forms of the disorder.

Covert (or stealth) narcissists can be extremely difficult to detect and it's actually possible to live with a covert narcissist for all of your life without even realizing it. Don't be fooled by the statistics that shows most sufferers of NPD to be male. This is an inevitable misconception and statistical research shows that the figures may actually be closer to 50% male and 50% female. Females are naturally more narcissistic in their nature anyway, it's part of the natural female defense mechanism so it's much easier for female narcissists to remain unrecognized.

Despite the original belief that only approximately 1% of the world's population suffer with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, more recent research indicates that the true figure could be as many as 13%-16%. Narcissists are masters of invisibility, they don't get picked up by the standard radar of human perception, only intuition and even then you won't quite be able to put your finger on what's really going on.

How Do I Recognize a Narcissist?

In many cases the narcissist often has an ex-partner (or several) who they will claim is mentally ill in some way and who may have become dependent on alcohol or drugs (therefore, in the narcissist's opinion, it's all their fault). This is commonly the result of being subject to narcissistic abuse over a long period of time. In extreme cases, this alien behavior can go as far as to develop into full blown psychological murder. Narcissists are experts at using very cleverly plotted, calculated, emotional, mental and verbal abuse, guilt and sympathy to manipulate and exploit the people around them. In covertly narcissistic relationships this is usually solely the narcissist's partner (victim) and in a lot of cases the covertly narcissistic behaviour gradually becomes more and more overt over the years.

Narcissists naturally use hypnotic forms of communication to very cleverly disguise abuse within embedded verbal commands and they use subliminal persuasion tactics, undermining the perception of their victim(s). Seeing as they have been practicing this hypnotic art since they were a child they become experts in it and have what is commonly described as a superhuman capacity for manipulation. So much so, that narcissists can use other people as pawns and can use them to carry out their manipulative tactics and deceit on their behalf without the pawns even being aware of what's really happening (abuse by proxy), it is as though the narcissist's subconscious mind is their conscious mind.

Malignant narcissism can be described as a severe or complete lack of empathy whereby the narcissist is unable to put themselves in anybody elses shoes, they are unable to relate to other people's emotions, although they often pretend to - this is simply learned behavior and is recalled from script as and when needed - it is not genuine empathy.

Narcissism starts to develop naturally at the age of about six years old and continues to develop from there, it is a necessity for life but for some people traumatic experiences can cause this aspect of personality development to become stunted and as they grow into adulthood, the narcissist remains 'stuck' in the frame of mind of a child or, at the other end of the spectrum, they are overly spoiled and smothered as a child (also a form of abuse). That is, narcissists go through life playing pretend in the same way that a child does - they remain in the self-love stage of development and do not go on to learn love of another.

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When confronted and guilty a narcissists deny everything outright to the point where they will swear on their own children's lives without so much as a flinch then will try to convince their victim that they were imagining everything and that it was all imagined and didn't really happen. They will go as far as to try to convince their victim that they need professional help (and medication). Narcissists are highly skilled expert liars and some can even beat the polygraph due to a lack of physiological response (no empathy).

Over the years it's a possibility that people closest to and who live near the narcissist, particularly family and friends around them, may start to point the finger and make accusations, which are often wrongly targeted at the narcissist's victim. Sometimes people may gradually begin to realize the shocking truth and will eventually have no choice but to break off all contact with the narcissist (and family) and move away, there may even be a great deal of damage done - however, this will only ever take place over the course of several years and it involves somewhat of an 'awakening' process. The narcissist will act innocent usually having everybody around them fooled, thinking that everybody is incorrectly pointing the finger at them, no matter what. They play the victim better that a professional actor could.

Many narcissist's have one very close friend in particular, a kind of 'scapegoat' who trusts them. Someone they turn to for sympathy, someone they can rely and depend upon, someone who believes they see the narcissist for who they really are despite being fooled by their charismatic facade; narcissists really are that naturally skilled.

What's So Bad About NPD?

The worst thing about malignant narcissism is that it's so infectious, not contagious but infectious. Someone who is brought up by parents who are narcissists will inevitably suffer with similar related symptoms and it's not uncommon for children of narcissists to be diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It's a rapidly increasingly problem in society and is spreading at a fast rate - not just from people who suffer with the disorder naturally but from people who are manipulated or abused resulting in them becoming narcissistic resulting from the abuse itself which,essentially, seems to be how the disorder manifests in the first place. It's a vicious cycle yet recognizing a narcissist can be extremely difficult.

Whereas psychopathy is a lack of guilt or remorse and sociopathy is a lack of conscience, narcissism is a lack of empathy - a narcissist cannot relate to another persons emotional needs or understand the pain they may be inflicting upon them. However, they certainly know the difference between right and wrong and between good and evil.

Note: The terms psychopath and sociopath (which are considered derogatory) have now been merged into the new diagnosis of Anti-Social Personality Disorder.

By Sparkster

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Willyhill on July 26, 2020:

I love thd pseudo science of psychology.

The only things I will always try to keep reminding people of is these:

Sigmund Freud was a drug addicted sexual pervert.

The entire industry of modern psychology is based upon thd lies and delusions of Freud and the massive research replication scandal of 70% published studies being non repeatable.

Modern paychology is like allopathic Pasteur based germ theory, a huge fraud.

The Old Man From Mississippi from North Mississippi on November 17, 2017:

WoW! This is an extremely good article. Glad I found it, as I am in the 'aftermath' of a 10 year marriage to a woman who has a severe case of NPD.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on April 24, 2015:

Technically, yes it would be illegal although some people have done it. I do not recommend it though, you could be placing yourself in a very dangerous predicament by doing so and its not the way to go. Whilst most narcissists are indeed men, most of the narcissists I have dealt with in my life have been women. Female narcissists are much more difficult to detect and are even more cunning than male narcissists.

Cindy on April 24, 2015:

Wow I saw an article about narcissist that says, "Everyone has to keep speaking out,keep spreading the word about these people so they can’t hide behind their masks and lies any more." This was a first. All the other articles says run away, hide, no contact, dont confront, dont say anything. is that because the victims are usually women and women are not expected to be fighters? Why doesn't anyone ever say the names of these men? Would that be illegal to say the name of the person you had a relationship with? I just warned the new woman my ex-narc brought to church with him after I broke up with him 30 days ago. I am a fighter, I challenged him every step of the way, I did no give him money, he gave me money and gifts to try to win me over. I told him I was never going to marry him or have kids with him and after another attempted three day silent treatment, I broke up with him abruptly, confronted him about his illness and refused to be friends unless he seek help. He then showed up to church last week with a woman he was clearly already seeing during our relationship. I told her everything, including showed her pictures, text messages, incoming phone calls and even let her listen to a voicemail. She was crying so I believe she will continue to date him, but atleast I was loyal to another woman and warned her. I told her to google the disorder and find out for herself. I also told one of his co-workers who happens to work with people with special needs and evidently the co-worker asked him about it. I want to post his name, and the information everywhere. He is a weak, manipulative, cheating, lying mentally ill looser and I want other women to know. he is a covert narcisist, so he plays the victim role, hiding behind a stutter, church and suppossedly and verbally and physically abusive father. He is supposedly such a nice guy that women have taken advantage of. Does anyone else want to out these guys, can we start a website, blog, something women can check? Would this be illegal? Someone please let me know?

unknown on August 10, 2014:

Thanks for this article, I feel like it explains my mom very well. She is an alcoholic narc, a very bad one at that. She's been accusing my dad for years that he had molested me and my brother and now acussing my dad and me of "having a thing" and she turned her back on me. Thinking all these paranoid lies that aren't even true, he's never touched me or my brother. She fights with us all hours of the night trying to tell us were wrong and she's right and she knows the truth. I always feel so depressed, she hates me and my dad. Hes been dealing with this for 20 years and is ready to leave. She's the worst case of narcissism. I always thought I was wrong and he had done those things but I grew up and realized nothing added up and it has never happened. She was just accusing everyone malicious things, all she does is get drunk and play the victim card saying no one loves her or appreciates her when we do. Its a bunch of bs and we are about to give up on her. She always apologizes to us then does it all over again. Its a bunch of lies and loves to mess with us. She's recently done it again, and I'm so depressed and stressed. I'm not even 18 yet and I am dealing with a narc mother . She won't admitt to needing help and says I need help or my dad needs help.

Gracie on October 29, 2013:

From what I"ve read elsewhere, narcissists are both cerebral AND's just one may be more dominant over the other and tend to switch out with one another over periods of time.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on May 06, 2013:

Oh I have been living with someone like this. The things are the same and they are related in one of my articles that I took off of HP and put on Wizzley. You can add it to your site if you want too and it also gives a description of what Intimacy Anorexia is.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on May 06, 2013:

I don't think it was "attacking" and to be quite honest, I've written much harsher elsewhere. Fact is these people can destroy your life, mind and soul without you being able to do anything about it and they couldn't care less. Whether they have a disorder or not, they do not have the right to exploit, manipulate and destroy other people at their will.

wade on May 06, 2013:

this was very attacking towrd people with this illlness though

Survivor of Npd Spouse on March 23, 2013:

In the process of divorcing a narcisst husband of 20 yrs. Narcissism did not manifest until 4 yrs ago. We have a minor child (sophomore) in high school. I was trying to stay 2 additional years for our sake. The dysfunction, continued to escalate to a point that I decided I love myself and our child uncondionally . It became possible to love my husband. He doesn't love himself! He has displayed all the behaviors mentioned above. He's angry solely with me, manipulative, and disconnected from reality. He berates,loathes, labels me as mentally ill, and has become such a vile creature that I don't care to be in his presence. I moved to a separate residence last year. Within 3 months he experienced an electrical house fire in our jointly owned marital property. Following full

Renovation, he refused to allow re-entry into the property. (Mind u he had moved out leaving no forwarding address for us 2 yrs prior to our move.) Pretty certain he's the victim of childhood abuse and has emerged as a victimizer. He doesn't believes he has issues. The problem is me. Our child is given spurts of attention from this middle aged once doting dad. Now he wants to be with women who are barely a few yrs out of high school. I was wise enough to seek therapy for our child and myself because of the devastating effect this development could pose on our lives. My motivation was our child, teaching how to stand strong and make tough decisions in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, I got a feeling he will be the urine soaked old guyin the nursing home that no one bothers to visit. Our faith, the good Lord has brought us through. It's all I can do to pray for him. He has denounced his faith as NPD emerged. My greastest fear is that should he seek therapy and recovers unlike the physical our emotional scars and wounds will never heal.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on February 20, 2013:

"NPD is one of the worst, and overlooked, forms of abuse."

Ain't that the truth. Thanks for your comment magnolia1106.

magnolia1106 on February 11, 2013:

My issue will address some of the aforementioned posts, and I can only hope that my words will help some of these men and women.

I am a 31 y/o woman. I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. My father is a doctor. He is also a clinically diagnosed NPD. In 2007 his medical license was pulled and he was forced to go to rehab to save his name. He was originally sent for substance abuse, but instead they moved him to another facility across the country when they realized that his issue wasn't the alcohol, it was the psychological disorders. My mother sent me literature on NPD and so I have a pretty good grasp on it. I lived it.

Only now, as an adult, have I realized the pain and anxiety it has caused me, wreaking havoc on my life. On the outside I am great. I am well-dressed, in excellent shape, support myself, I have a Master's Degree and I'm starting a company. My dreams, most nights, are terrible. On average, I accuse my boyfriend of things that he hasn't done, start fights about things I made up in my head, and I feel that I'm not living in reality a lot. I can be manipulative and self-centered to the point where I derive some happiness from his pain. I feel that I have some of the signs of NPD, and I do feel that it can be passed down, if not genetically, by some sort of transitive property. I feel that having been so completely manipulated my whole life, I learned to play the game and so I became good at surviving and manipulating by whatever means I could. I know that I am not healthy, mentally. My saving grace is that I can step outside of myself enough to see that I need serious help, and I am committed to healing myself before it's too late and I ruin one more healthy relationship, or continue down a path of anxiety/depression and self-sabotage. Yes, with all of my accomplishments, I self-sabotage like no other. And I'm doing "ok." There are four kids in my family and one of my sisters goes through spurts of being a basket-case.

To the women on the forum living with a narcissist. GET OUT. YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. There are people in the world who are not narcissists, who will love you and support you. But first, you have to respect and love yourself enough to leave. My father trapped my mother for 21 years. She had NO friends, she cut ties with her family and he made her feel like he was her only option. When she finally decided to leave, I was 14 and she used me as her therapist because she had no real contact with the outside world....she had nothing. No money, no resources, pretty much nothing. BUT SHE DID IT. And so can you. Keep a separate bank account, talk to your friends, find therapy resources. You HAVE to. Make a plan. Leaving a narcissist will be one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do in your life, but when you do, you'll look back and see that he made you a shadow of the person you were before you met. The worst thing you can do is think that you can fix him. You can't. My father had a stroke around late October '12. He writhed in agony while he detoxed in the hospital, and we all thought he would die. Instead, when he recovered, he continued (continues) to drink. I was forced to cut ties with him last month.

One of the charities my company will be giving to is for women in domestic abuse houses. NPD is one of the worst, and overlooked, forms of abuse. Having someone make you feel crazy or ruin your mental health is horrendous. But you can get out. If anyone ever needs any kind of help, please contact me.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on November 27, 2012:

I'm so sorry that you are having to go through this Rita. It sounds like a relationship that you really need to get out of, things are not likely to get any better. Don't try to catch him out or expose him for what he really is. Instead, my advice would be to keep quiet, build up a network of friends & family if possible, get as much money together as you can and once you're in a position to be able to do so get out of there.

Best wishes,


Rita on November 26, 2012:

My husband becomes very angry when I accuse him of something he is doing, he is never ever wrong & it is always my fault, I could never say how i really feel , He gets crazy. we have been together 13 yrs &he always has obsessions with other women , mostly neighbors. if I dare to say anything about this he tells me Im sick & I need help.He hates to be found out . Im really wearing out. I feel like dirt.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on November 05, 2012:

Thank you Kurt, I hope things are better now.

Kurt on November 04, 2012:

Great article. I was in a relationship with a woman who caused me a lot of emotional damage and this summed everything up perfectly.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on October 13, 2012:

Thank you for pointing out that subtle inconsistency Gail, I have updated the article to reflect what I would consider to be more accurate information, according to research.

I have discovered that many children of narcissistic parent(s) do not necessarily develop the disorder but may go on to become more narcissistic than others (but not disordered) and that many of them suffer with ADHD or ADD.

I have also found that children who have just one narcissistic parent, rather than both parents being narcissistic, seem to 'grow out of it' and go on to live a healthy lifestyle. Since you have mentioned malignant narcissism running in families and bloodlines I'd like to direct you to this hub:

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on October 13, 2012:

I think this is an excellent hub, sparkster. I think you are right that the occurrence of NPD is much, much higher than 1%. I think you hit the nail on the head with this hub. While NPD does seem to run in families, I disagree that an NPD parent necessarily results in an NPD child. I say this because there are 5 children in my family with an NPD mother. To the best of my knowledge and understanding anyway, I would say three are definitely not NPD, one definitely is and the youngest seems to be heading in that direction. I also base it on experience with other survivors in ACON groups. Interestingly, the worst NPD personalities I have ever experienced were also members of secret societies - some make bigger secrets of their membership while others openly admit it. I really wonder how much that influences NPD running in families or bloodlines.

I am me on April 29, 2012:

This reminds me so much of my mother and father. To the point they have convinced my entire family my husband and I are drug users and abuse our children and each other while being unfaithful to each other. And then accuse me of being brainwashed when I stop talking to them because I am sick of having to refute their lies to every member of the family i talk to. And all because I refused to parrot their bigotry and agree with everything they say or do. No, we don't do drugs, or beat our kids, we were never kicked out of anywhere Ever, my husband doesn't hurt me in any way, physically or emotionally, neither of us have ever stolen anything and neither of us are or have ever been unfaithful in any way to the other. I know that I will never be able to talk to my family again and not have them try to convince me that that is my life. I have been left severely emotionally scarred, but there is nothing I can do about that. There can be no closure when the object of your depression will tell you one moment they are sorry they put you through it all and then say that you deserved it because they did nothing wrong with the same breath. I love my husband and children with all my heart and soul, but there will always be that void left because of my parents' betrayal. It can be hard to live knowing that you just don't understand that type of love, irrelevant of the fact I grew up with it.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on March 30, 2012:

Thanks for your comments. To answer your question Lili, most sufferers of NPD do not realize they are narcissistic.

Lili on March 29, 2012:

Why doesn't the legal system recognize and deal with this type of abuse? Why don't counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists recognize narcissism and diagnose it?

Is there any kind of support group for women whose narcissistic husbands pull things like trying to have them committed? Why is not more done about abusive acts like this? And when will the courts truly start caring about the best interests of the children? Because narcissists have a horrible effect and influence over their children, especially in a divorce where they use their children like pawns without thinking twice about the effects that their words and behavior have on the kids. The scary thing is that during a divorce, the narcissist has extended periods of time alone with the children - very worrisome. One question - do narcissists recognize their own narcissism?

Nicolw on March 29, 2012:

This is exactly what I have been living with for over 15 years. The worst of it started two years ago when our third child was not even a month old. An exgirlfriend contacted my husband on LinkedIn (my husband "jokingly" called it "HookedUp") and they were in contact by e-mail for a month. He told me he broke off contact with her, which I believed at the time. Ever since I have come to realize he is a manipulating, lying narcissist. He has played mind games with me and put me down relentlessly ever since. I have sought the help of a local women's shelter's counseling services to deal with the mental, emotional and verbal abuse. Life with him has been absolute hell. My goal is to protect our three children and myself from this evil man. Not everyone sees him for what he really is. He is so smooth and fools people with his good looks and neat appearance and being an engineer. All of his issues and dysfunction he projects on me - it is so disturbing and confusing, some times I start to question my own perceptions. Then, last October, I received a letter in the mail through probate court in which my husband alleges that I am mentally ill. I was stunned and scared. I had to go be mentally evaluated and because the doctor and social worker found me to be perfectly fine, an order of dismissal was issued. This stunt was the last straw. I filed for divorce - the best decision I have ever made! But as nasty as a narcissist is, they are even nastier during a divorce. Apparently men trying to have their wives committed for no legitimate reason is way more common then you think. Something needs to be done about this. Anyone have any suggestions or have had a similar experience?

Kenna Kane from Augusta Georgia on March 27, 2012:

I love this hub. Gives me such a sense of relief.

stillwaters on March 04, 2012:

My ex husband is a covert Narcissist. We were married twenty years. He was emotionally abusive in such a corrosive yet undetectable way. After 19 years, i was exhausted and depressed. Ex husband was not receiving the reflection back that he was Mr Wonderful. So he went off with his high school girlfriend. Who seems to have Borderline Personality Disorder. My daughters refuse to see their father. And so he has accused me of alienating them. He has created an alternative reality, in which I am the evil witch....and he is the noble victim. I could scream. Thanks for writing about the covert under-cover breed of NPD. They are the most damaging creatures on the planet.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on February 21, 2012:

Thanks for commenting disraught,

You are definitely not alone! I was assaulted earlier by my ex-fiancee's (female) cousin when she doesn't have a clue about the truth of what's gone on.

distraught on February 21, 2012:

Feels like you must have been watching the dreadful nightmare I have been living with since my Narc ex-wife turned on me 6 months into our marriage. Seems she couldn't deal with the intimacy and love involved in a real relationship. Five years down the track and two children lost to her lies and manipulation I am still beating my head upagainst her brick wall trying to be there for my kids so they can know what love, affection and empathy actully are and have a chance of avoiding becoming a Narc themselves. Its hard dealing with her financial manipulatoin, lies and using the legal system to keep me seperated from my children. What's amazing is how she manages to turn every situation against me, every critisism or fault becomes my own and negates her responsibility. Its all my fault but nothing I do can fix it or make her happy she is forever dissatisfied and confrontational unless she sees some potential for financial manipulation. Truly bewildering.

Thanks so much for your article its affirming to know that I am not the only one to have suffered such a situation.

Jeff Hileman on January 16, 2012:

Wrote a letter to my daughter. Have not sent it though. Your very accurate about the financial damage. yet another thing we have in common.

great writing. I'm here for you. In what ever way you need it. If I am able that is. Moral support is hard to come by in our situations.

Jeff Hileman on January 15, 2012:

Very accurate rendering. Not to sound NPD myself lol. But a patriarch person in my family fits the family description you gave to a 100% match. Me I suffer from terrible anxiety problems from it. This individual has caused me job loss after job loss and my kids are not even my own kids. Not just in the persons own private opinion. The person even goes out of their way to promote that falseness. Suffering for victims is a generational thing. Explaining this to my daughter. That's where I am at right now. And I don't yet know how too. Very informative hub.

Mary Grace on July 28, 2011:

Informative and useful. Great work.

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