What is a Malignant Narcissist (& 7 Signs to Spot One)

dealing with a malignant narcissist

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Narcissism is a personality trait that many people possess to varying degrees. However, malignant narcissism is an extreme form. A relationship with a malignant narcissist, whether this person is your romantic partner, family member, or friend, can be an emotionally draining and hurtful experience.

What is a Malignant Narcissist?

Malignant narcissism, or toxic narcissism, is considered the most severe type of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A malignant narcist’s traits are commonly combined with antisocial behavior, so a malignant narcissist may have a tendency to lie and break the law, show a lack of remorse for causing harm to others, and be aggressive, hostile, and violent.

People with this type of narcissism are highly abusive and incapable of feeling empathy or remorse for their cruel actions. At their darkest, a malignant narcissist may be a sadist who takes pleasure in seeing others suffer.

Malignant narcissists are typically destructive and manipulative. They have an excessive need for attention and adoration and a strong sense of entitlement, believing that they are better than others. They use various manipulation strategies to control and dominate others. A malignant narcissist will take advantage of you to gain self-esteem and satisfy their own needs while completely disregarding yours.

What Makes a Malignant Narcissist Different from Other Types of Narcissism?

Most people with narcissistic personality traits, or NPD, have a strong sense of entitlement and self-importance. They crave attention and constantly need someone to feed their ego, so they use manipulation to satisfy their needs.

However, a malignant narcissist typically uses more extreme and aggressive strategies to satisfy this need for attention and appreciation. This combination of narcissistic and antisocial traits is what primarily differentiate malignant narcissists from other types of narcissism. They lack empathy, feel no regret for harming others, and may even take pleasure in abusing people and causing pain.

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What Causes Malignant Narcissism?

The exact reasons that cause malignant narcissism are not known. However, psychologists believe that various factors, such as genetics, neurobiology, and childhood experiences (abuse, a disorganized attachment with unpredictable care, and either overprotective or authoritarian parents), might contribute to developing a narcissistic personality disorder.

Traits of a Malignant Narcissist to Look Out For

suffering at the hands of a malignant narcissist

Recognizing the signs of a malignant narcissist is a crucial first step toward escaping their abuse. So, here are the seven traits of a malignant narcissist to keep an eye out for.

1) Lack of Empathy

A hallmark sign of malignant narcissism is the absence of genuine concern or compassion for other people’s experiences, needs, and feelings. Empathy is at the heart of healthy relationships because it allows us to understand and experience another person’s feelings and viewpoints. Because they significantly lack empathy, people with malignant narcissism cannot build and maintain positive, mutually satisfying relationships.

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2) They Use, Abuse, and Then Discard People

Malignant narcissists are experts at manipulating and controlling their victims to fulfill their own wants and needs. As long as you serve as a narcissistic supply, they will do anything to keep you close. They will use gaslighting, for example, to distort reality, make you question your own sanity, and rely on them for your sense of self and reality. However, they would discard and abandon you once they no longer required you to fuel their ego.

3) Attention-Seeking Behavior

A malignant narcissist has a constant need for admiration and attention. They will violate your boundaries, demanding your absolute attention, loyalty, and devotion.

4) They Feel Entitled

Their distorted perception of themselves consumes malignant narcissists with delusions of beauty, prosperity, and power. They believe that they are better than others. So, a malignant narcissist will request admiration and favorable treatment from those around them.

5) They Seek Power and Influence (At Any Cost)

Malignant narcissists show abusive and aggressive behavior when their ego is threatened, often deriving pleasure from their victim’s suffering.

6) They Feel Superior to Others

Narcissists have a grandiose sense of self-importance and superiority, believing they are better than others. They may overstate their own achievements and skills, expecting to be regarded as superior although lacking comparable skills or accomplishments.

Because malignant narcissists feel they are special and unique, they believe they can only be engaged with or understood by other extraordinary people.

7) They Can’t Take any Criticism

Narcissists, in truth, are insecure and have low self-esteem. Every critic threatens a narcissist’s fragile ego, so they are extremely sensitive to criticism, even if it is constructive.

How to Deal with a Malignant Narcissist

The first step in protecting yourself from a malignant narcissist’s harm is understanding their traits and behaviors. Once you understand the motives behind a malignant narcissist’s actions, you can decide about the following steps to heal and move forward.

Set Free

There’s a big chance that the malignant narcissist in your life is aggressive and abusive. In this case, the best thing to do to protect yourself is to end the toxic relationship. However, if you intend to stay in that relationship, here are a few tips on how to deal with a malignant narcissist.

Seek Help from a Professional

Seeking support from a professional is essential if you are in a relationship with a malignant narcissist. A specially trained counselor can help you:

  • Set healthy boundaries.
  • Validate your experience and learn that the malignant narcissist’s behavior is not your fault.
  • Develop coping strategies to navigate the narcissist’s abuse.
  • Rebuild your self-esteem and confidence.

Coaching is a safe place to acquire the tools and strategies to regain control of your life and move toward healthy relationships. Remember that you are not alone. Contact me today to set up a free empowering conversation.

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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My name is Kamini Wood, and I’m here to accompany you on your journey toward understanding yourself on a deeper level so can create the life you want personally and professionally. It’s time to embrace your AuthenticMe ™