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12 Signs of a Malignant Narcissist

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

If you’re curious about the extent to which narcissistic behavior might progress, the final result is a Malignant Narcissist.

While not a recognized diagnosis, malignant narcissism occurs when an individual exhibits narcissistic, antisocial, sadistic, and paranoid behaviors.

Learn the Signs of a Malignant Narcissist and how to spot a person suffering from malignant narcissism and what to anticipate from them.

If you know someone who exhibits these characteristics, it is critical to know and understand what you can do to protect yourself.

You know, all around us some people think they are better, more successful, and more beautiful than others, who have too high an opinion of themselves. These are narcissists.

Did you know that there are many different types of narcissists? Some classifications are researched more, and their behavior is well understood. Do you know that there are malignant narcissists?

Very little is understood about malignant narcissists, and there is little information in the psychiatric literature. This article will help you recognize if you have someone with this disorder in your circle.

What is a malignant narcissist?

To know what a malignant narcissist is, you need to know what narcissism is. Narcissism is the most common form of a self-satisfied person who thinks they are the best at everything.

That there is no better person than them. There are several different forms of narcissism.

Malignant narcissism is one of the types of personality disorders that have not been well researched. A malignant narcissist is a person who has a combination of antisocial personality disorder, narcissism, aggression, paranoia, and sadism.

A group of mental health professionals wrote mental disorders’ diagnostic and statistical manual. This book describes all mental health disorders, including those that share the characteristics of malignant narcissism.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM -I in 1952, and the sequels DSM-II-1968, DSM-III-1980, DSM-R-1987, DSM-IV-1994, The DSM-IV-TR-2000, and the last part of the DSM-5 came out in May 2013.

Many psychiatrists have used this book for years as a guide (as its name suggests) in diagnosing many mental disorders. In this book, the characteristic symptoms of malignant narcissism are found in Personality Disorders – Cluster B. The following will briefly describe the symptoms of several personality disorders that together make malignant narcissism.

What is the primary goal of a malignant narcissist?

Malignant narcissists enjoy devaluing and highlighting the flaws of the people around them. Their main goal is to destroy their confidence and dominate the people around them.

12 Signs of a malignant narcissist

Mental health experts who have studied this severe personality disorder have agreed on the characteristics of malignant narcissists:

Psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg described malignant narcissism as syndrome  characterized by a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial features, paranoid traits, and egosyntonic aggression.

Other symptoms may include an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and a sense of importance (grandiosity)

1. Antisocial behavior

This behavior is much more pronounced in malignant narcissists than in ordinary narcissists.

Malignant narcissists are prone to violence and are often associated with murder. Many serial killers could be classified with an official diagnosis of malignant narcissist. They have no absence of guilt when they behave destructively toward other people.

2. They have short fuse

By this, I mean that malignant narcissists are irritable, impulsive, mythomaniacs, and have a low tolerance for frustration.

3. Sadistic behavior

Malignant narcissists enjoy torturing others and causing pain to others. They have no guilt anyway.

4. Lack of conscience

The absence of conscience and accountability is the main feature of the typical narcissist. Still, this feature is much more robust in people who have a malignant narcissistic disorder. Lack of conscience causes aggression in these people if someone opposes them.

In addition to the above traits, malignant narcissists also may have the following personality trait:

5. They exploit and then reject others.

6. They are obsessed with power.

7. Every situation for them is personal. 

8. They love revenge and are very angry.

9. Nothing can stop them from getting what they want.

10. They have many enemies.

11. They never show insecurity 

12. They maintain the illusion of the facade of a perfect person.

Kernberg believed that malignant narcissism should be considered part of a spectrum of pathological narcissism.

Signs of a Malignant Narcissist

Malignant narcissistic abuse

Malignant narcissists tend to abuse people around them, and there are many ways to do that.

They think they have the upper hand over you, and they start abusing you by asking you to do small favors for them. If you don’t do that, they belittle you.

Malignant narcissists are master manipulators, and people from their environment can’t notice them because they are emotionally attached. In addition to abuse, they know how to abuse both mentally and emotionally. It can also be your boss, husband, friend, or family member. To prevent further torture from being inflicted on you, it is best to set boundaries and stay away from such people.

A man who laid the foundations for research on malignant narcissists

Erich Fromm was the first to lay the groundwork for research into malignant narcissism. He was a psychoanalyst, social psychologist, and humanistic philosopher. He considered malignant narcissism to be the most severe and worst pathological condition of humankind.

He describes malignant narcissists as boastful, antisocial, and very hostile.

Fromm believed that narcissism was at the root of many harmful human behaviors.

Fromm said malignant narcissists feel very powerful because of the traits and qualities they believe they have had since birth.

The similarity of malignant narcissism with other mental disorders

Because malignant narcissism contains symptoms of certain mental illnesses, it can be confused with other personality disorders such as:

17+ Signs of narcissistic abuse Find out now!

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Nine traits help identify NPD, and only five narcissistic behaviors are needed to make a formal diagnosis.

The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder are:

  • preoccupation with thoughts of personal success, power, or attraction,
  • There is little or no empathy for other people’s emotions or feelings.
  • significant need for attention, admiration, and recognition.
  • A grandiose sense of self-importance, such as a tendency to exaggerate personal talent or achievement,
  • faith in individual uniqueness and superiority.
  • A sense of right
  • lack empathy.
  • propensity to exploit others or exploit people for personal gain.
  • arrogant or conceited behavior and attitudes
  • They tend to envy others and believe that others envy them.

People who have narcissistic personality disorder may have trouble coping with the changes. People with NPD feel humiliated if they feel that others are belittling them and find it challenging to bear insecurity and vulnerability.

What causes malignant narcissism?

Read more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Antisocial personality disorder (APD)

The main characteristic of this condition is that it neglects the feelings of other people. People with this disorder are prone to manipulation and deception.

Still, they know what they are doing is physically and emotionally abusive. They don’t even regret their wrongdoing.

Some of the symptoms are violent and aggressive behavior. Still, some people live with this disorder without being violent at all.

Symptoms of APD appear in childhood. Yet, only adults can be diagnosed with APD.

They can be violent toward other people and animals.

They don’t care about the consequences of their actions or the needs of others.

If there are three symptoms of the following, it means that the person could receive a clinical diagnosis from a mental health professional.

Traits of antisocial personality disorder include:

  • contempt for authority and social norms.
  • exploitation and manipulation of other people.
  • reckless disregard, impulsive, or risky behavior that shows disrespect for personal safety or the safety of others.
  • reckless disregard, impulsive, or risky behavior that shows a lack of empathy for the suffering of others.
  • little or no remorse for harmful or illegal acts,
  • generally hostile, irritable, aggressive, restless, or anxious.
  • pattern of irresponsible, arrogant, or disrespectful behavior.
  • difficulties in planning.

41 Manipulation Tactics Used By Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sociopaths

What causes malignant narcissism?

The exact cause of malignant narcissism remains unknown.

Since the symptoms of NPD and APD are common to malignant narcissism. It is believed that there are genetic and environmental factors that influence a person to get this mental disorder that is associated with the earliest childhood:

  • If they have experienced abuse or harassment,
  • If, as a child, they had unrealistically high expectations for
  • If, as children, they were over-praised or criticized.
  • If they had irritable, neurotic, or aggressive personality traits as children,
  • if they had a low tolerance for stress or frustration.
  • If they are too sensitive or unable to manage their emotions,
  • If they were abused or rejected in childhood,
  • If the parents said he was special or had exceptional talents,
  • If the parents had narcissistic traits,
  • If confirmation or praise is sought for something they have done, because that is how they raise their low self-esteem
  • If they considered vulnerability to be a sign of weakness,
  • If they were taught that failures and mistakes are unbearable and inadmissible,
  • if they are overly focused on status, recognition, power, and success.
  • If they have a lack of self-awareness and a problem recognizing emotions in themselves and others,
  • If they have impaired identity development.
Malignant narcissists

How to deal with a malignant narcissist?

People who have a malignant narcissist personality don’t accept direction from others, whether it’s a family member, friend, emotional partner, or boss. 

You must find a way to maintain contact with such a person.

If it is an emotional partner, know that you should end the relationship because he can harass you emotionally and mentally. Hence, the best solution is to leave that person. Leaving will save your life because people with this disorder don’t shy away from anything, not even violence against loved ones.

If it’s your boss, family member, or friend, you need to know the following:

You should know that people with malignant narcissism do not know their limits. You will need to set boundaries for physical space and other limitations, such as the limits to which you can do services. They learn, to the point of exhaustion, to seek service after service.

That you can’t expect it to change

You can’t change people with this disorder because they are not small children who can be influenced to change their behavior. They are adults who have their pattern of behavior. If you try to change them, you and they may be frustrated. You because you failed to change them because someone tried to change the unique behavior.

If you try to do it openly, they can resort to physical violence or manipulation. They can manipulate you or tell your loved ones lies about you and thus keep people close to you away from you. To avoid such situations, you need to have healthy boundaries. Instead of openly refusing to do what they ask, you need to suggest alternatives.

If conflict is inevitable, don’t do it in front of a crowd

If there is a discussion in a public place, it would be best to tell a person with this disorder that it isn’t good for her because they are known to take care of their reputation as a perfect person.

Always have people with you who are not easy to manipulate

When a situation occurs, you need to have people to talk about the event and who will stand by you if necessary.

You need to manage your expectations regarding love

Such people have no feelings, and you should lower your expectations that you will ever get it. 

You need to let them talk about themselves and support them

If you support them, you reduce the possibility of them being aggressive towards you.

Celebrities who had a malignant narcissistic disorder

Did you know that famous historical rulers and murderers had malignant narcissistic disorders?

Can you guess who it is?

Famous rulers and assassins who have had this disorder are:

Julius Caesar

Known as Caligula, he had all the symptoms of a malignant narcissist.

He was ruthless and did not care about the opinions of others.

He was stabbed by the Praetorian Guard, which darkened his behavior.

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia

Today is known as Count Dracula. He was a great sadist because he enjoyed watching his victims die. He pierced them with a stake. He killed between 40,000 and 100,000 people. He was killed by beheading and was declared a national hero in Romania.

Adolph Hitler

Hitler was a German military leader who killed many people during World War II. Among the people he killed were gypsies because he believed that they shouldn’t live.

Robert John Maudsley

He is the inspiration for the creation of the character of Hannibal Lecter. He was a psychopath and killed people because he thought it was his duty. He was nicknamed “Hannibal Cannibal” when he ate part of the brain of one of his victims.

Mao Zedong

The Chinese revolutionary and founder of the People’s Republic of China had a malignant narcissist disorder. They forced people to kill each other to achieve a goal and make the Republic of China what he wanted it to be in his fantasies. He was ruthless.

Can a malignant narcissist be cured?

People with malignant narcissism can’t be cured because they rarely agree to therapy.

If they agree to the treatment, they have a certain degree of self-awareness and are ready to change, and that treatment can be made much more effective. It is necessary to do self-reflect.

That comes with therapy. This includes introspection, which can help detect flaws, errors, and insecurities that malignant narcissists cannot deal with.

It may be necessary to find a very experienced therapist who will know how to deal with a person with malignant narcissism because sometimes therapists can’t cope with a person who has malignant narcissism.

Grey Romantic Quote We Can Only Learn To Love By Loving Pinterest Pin Post 1


Malignant narcissism is a hazardous mental disorder, and if you have someone near you with this disorder, you need to maintain healthy boundaries to save your life. You need to consult a doctor to know how to behave if one of your family members has this disorder.

Read More about Narcissist Abuse and Domestic Violence

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

3 thoughts on “12 Signs of a Malignant Narcissist”

  1. Unfortunately I’m dealing with the fact I was recently married to narcissistic !!! 30 plus years !!! I’m currently unraveling this ball of yarn . Still hard for me me to believe that I’ve live with such a person !!! The gas lighting etc From the surface it look like a normal family. !!!! I was sooo fooled. !!!! He seem sooo nice at first . I was very naïve when we first met. He hated the fact that I wasn’t forever naive !!! I used to call myself Gumby !!! I had wanted to end my life . Because the emotional pain was sooo awful !!!!!! Let me say this the wild fire that burned down my home . Was a blessing in disguise’s !!!!! I had no more excuses to stay. !!!!! I called it the Step Ford wife syndrome. I hope and pray to write a book about this experience. I planned on calling my book Stepford wife Syndrome !!!!! One of the painful moments is seeing past photos of my family. It all so look normal !!! On the surface it seem that way !!!! Another very painful thing is so few understands this . What I’ve gone through !!!! As I once did. !!! Unless you experience it’s hard to wrap your mind around this. !!! Crazy thing is I still feel sorry for him. !!!! Guess I have Stockholm syndrome !!!! And or my first memory of what I thought he was. !!! A caring loving man. !!!! This is such situation to heal from. !!! Getting there. !!! It’s a work in progress. !!! Stages. !!!!!

  2. I had a trusted male friend for 20 years. 10 years ago we became romantic partners, and I ended it after a few months due to his frightening anger, and his horrible manipulation. He stalked and harassed me for 10 years. Last week he murdered his parents and then killed himself. I always knew he was capable of this, so I was terrified for all those years. You just can’t be too careful with a malignant narcissist.

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