Malignant Narcissists Always Pose High Risk

Malignant Narcissism

Malignant narcissists are a unique breed of disturbed character. And they’re inherently dangerous folks. So it really pays to understand and recognize this character type.

I’ve often made the point that narcissism, like all character disturbances, is a spectrum phenomenon. There are different types and degrees of narcissism. (See also: Narcissistic Personalities Come in Various Types.) But malignant narcissism is in a class by itself.

By definition, a malignant condition is one that’s expected to worsen, especially in the absence of proper intervention. But even with sound intervention, the prognosis is often poor. That makes malignant condtitions inherently dangerous. And malignant narcissism is no exception. Malignant narcissists are among the most dangerous disturbed characters. Any involvement with them always carries great risk.

The Nature of the Danger

Severe empathy impairment lies at the heart of malignant narcissism. Malignant narcissists simply don’t care. And some, truly can’t care. But that doesn’t mean they can’t feign care and concern. They can be very good actors. Still, because they really don’t care about anyone or anything other than themselves, they tend to wantonly use and abuse others, often without compunction. And that’s where the danger lies.

Quite often, the seriously disturbed characters I call the aggressive personalities are malignantly narcissistic. But the pathology of such folks goes well beyond their narcissism. It’s one thing to feel dominant, and quite another to actively dominate, control, exploit, and otherwise victimize.

A Special Danger

Covert characters of all types pose a special kind of risk. That’s because you it’s hard to know who they really are and what agendas they harbor until long after you’ve become involved. Moreover, some are so good at the art of positive impression management that their true nature can elude you for a long time. That’s why it’s so important to vet character carefully at the outset of a relationship, especially in our times. You also have to know just how to do this.

Some malignant narcissists are covert characters. And some of these types involve themselves with you (usually, through seduction) with your exploitation and victimization already in mind. That’s the very definition of predatory behavior. And I have a lot to say about predatory narcissistic aggressors in both In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance.


17 thoughts on “Malignant Narcissists Always Pose High Risk

  1. If a male spouse can be defined through study and experience as covert aggressive N, would it be a serious consideration that the traits and relationship of said mother and son of covert N would be that what is experienced by mother could be that the son is a malignant N. It would be a generational situation.

  2. My comment was quite confusing, I’ll try again. My ex husband is (what I understand from reading “sheep’s clothing” when first published) a covert aggressive N. Our son, who is now an adult, seems much more severely expressing N traits.

    1. I believe it can occur generationally, as I clearly see it in three generations in my own family; in one person in particular in each generation, and after the second generation not even in a direct line). Each generation seems to be progressively worse, too. There are narcissistic traits in the other siblings, too, but these three almost seem like clones in their personality. It does make you wonder.

  3. Read something that I found relates to this. Malignant narcissists are often “strongmen”. They come off as, well, strong. That they (and they alone) can solve problems, get around (or bulldoze through them). The problem is, they are only interested in their own agenda. They won’t be your strongman. You’re just another object to be used and abused and then discarded.

    By Timothy Snyder
    “Strongman rule is a fantasy. Essential to it is the idea that a strongman will be your strongman. He won’t. In a democracy, elected representatives listen to constituents. We take this for granted, and imagine that a dictator would owe us something. But the vote you cast for him affirms your irrelevance. The whole point is that the strongman owes us nothing. We get abused and we get used to it.”

  4. Yes. I can see this clearly in my interactions with certain individuals, in hindsight.
    I was in a weak or in a one down position and in need of help or support and they appeared to be stronger, more capable, or in a position to help. In the end, their “help” if it did actually come, always came with a heavy cost that was, at the time, impossible for me to conceive of. And it always served their ego in some way.

    In my experience when you feel powerless or helpless, these folks start looking really attractive. The fantasy of them rescuing you from the situation is an unhealthy coping mechanism and sets us up to be taken in and abused and exploited.

    It’s no surprise to me now that they use tactics, especially fear and terror to get people in line and under their spell. And stay there. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to think critically in that state of mind.

  5. For those of you long timers here that may know a bit of my history, I’m separated/divorced now from the X for 9 years. He’s still the malignant over narcissist he’s always been. Here is the latest.
    Me picking up and dropping off my grandson, now nine years old, whom GS and daughter live with the X, has turned into a full on crazy predicament.
    After the X speaking to me full of hate and insults a couple months ago, during a pickuup of my GS, I decided to go No Contact (again). I won’t tolerate abusive talk, ugly scenes. I won’t be his whipping girl, ever.
    So I have not had personal contact with him for two months. I’ve dropped off my GS to him without speaking to him. I’m not allowed anymore on his parking lot at his apartment complex to pick him up anymore. Once he saw my BF in the car with me during a pickup, that threw him into a flurry of hate.
    So my daughter brings him to me.
    Now he’s told her I can no longer drop GS off after spending the day with me, that he feels “threatened” by me.
    I’ve not spoken one word to him in 8 weeks.
    I figure what he’s doing in his sick mind is that now that I refuse any contact with him, that he wants the up position by saying that he’s the one who feels threatened and that I’m not allowed near his apartment. I figure he wants to control the situation since I made the decision he cannot contact me. That’s so typical of the malignant narcissist that he is.
    What I did observe, though, before when dropping off, he’d barely open his front door and he’d hide behind it, as if to shield himself from me. I’d be in the car or parking lot, not even approaching the door.
    What’s happening? Is he really “threatened”? If so, he gone plain psycho nuts.
    If he’s wanting to have his thumb down on me, that makes more sense, knowing how he so wants control.
    Now I’m concerned, what’s next.

    1. Lucy, its been 9 years!? I remember when you quietly tippy toed into this forum and wrote about your experiences. I’ve read about it throughout that time and you really have come a long way.

      I’d like to say, the CDs in our lives are ALL very adept at misrepresenting OUR characters. What I can’t understand is the enablers. These enablers cannot possibly be that blind, they surely have had to experience in some way even just a little bit what we have experienced.

      Your ex is a nut job so interacting with him on his incredibly childish terms to have access to your grandson is what you need to do, and you seem to do it well. You know him best and he probably hates that the most.

  6. D.

    Yes I’ve learned so much, and desperately needed all the information I gleaned from this site. I’m so thankful to those of you who have helped me along the way.

    I once read that the CDs get worse with time, and I believe that is true. They do not care who they hurt in order to get to their target (me, in this case).

    It’s still astonishing to me that the X still is fixated on me. Only when things go his way does he “appear” to be reasonable. All along, though, even while “getting along”, I never forgot what he’s done, who he truly is, and how mean and vicious he can be, and that the “nice” side of him is only him being pleased for things to go his way.

    We should never forget how far these CDs will go to get their sick satisfaction.
    My daughter hates dealing with him, but she’d living with him, financially dependent. But she’s learning to cope by not giving his tantrums much life, although being around him is so unhealthy. And my grandson loves me to no end, and the X trying to poison our relationship isn’t working. I told GS last night that we know our relationship and he knows who I truly am and that I’m a good person, and that GS can make his own decisions about me. We’ve formed a very strong bond and the X will not be able to break it. What a sicko.
    I think the X so hates that I’ve cut him off, that it was MY decision to cut off contact, not his. So his sick brain wants to flip that around and say I’m a threat. The last time he spoke to me, which was him insulting me and calling me awful names, of which I didn’t even defend myself, I don’t do that anymore, don’t need to, but I did not address a thing he said, just kept saying over and over, just let GS come with me. Which he finally did, after he finished his insults.
    Yes I’ve learned how to handle him. Looks like he’ll spend his lifetime hating on me and trying to ruin relationships. But I can handle it. I’ve got tools now.
    D. I hope you’re doing well.

    1. Lucy,
      I have over time read comments on the blog. It seems he really is losing it, the malignant N get worse over time especially when they look in the mirror and see and old man. It reminds me of the the Movie about Dorian Gray, if you haven’t seen, it’s a real eye opener into who these sick individuals are.

      Is there someway you can get the courts involved and have them determine mutual terms for visitation?

      I am sorry you are suffering with him, I know it is torturous. My X passed away
      in Dec of 22, he has a massive heart attack right in the hospital. Guess who he put down as his contact, yup me. After all the years of torment, he still wanted me involved, no family members want anything to do with him so I have been involved in the cleanup. I have to say I am glad he is gone as I don’t have to worry about him showing up at my door.

      Under the circumstances you are dealing with, I hope you are well.

      1. I won’t get the courts involved. I’m thinking in his mind he has stirred up some imaginary scenario of where he really is scared of me. Maybe because of all the crap he’s thrown my way that I just won’t tolerate him anymore. But my method of not tolerating him is going no contact.
        He’s now allowing my to drop of GS to his place again. I dropped of GS this weekend and I kept my car way back from his door and watched from inside the car my GS walking into the apartment. The X was standing totally behind the door, and all that was visible of him was his hand grabbing the door. He completely hid himself behind the door. I find this so bizarre. He’s always been so brazen and confrontational.

        I can see how you can now have peace now that your X is gone. After all that, you’re the one he comes back to. I hope you didn’t have to sort his stuff out. Hopefully, he left you some money.

        You’re right, they do become sicker and uglier.

        1. Hello Joey!
          I am well. Still navigating the throws of having an X narc, but otherwise, doing very well.
          And how are you?

  7. My son met his malignant narcissist in college. She was odd. I am an MSW but don’t usually work outside the office. One day she told me a story “my mother had to come and get me from k-garten alot, and sometimes from preschool. One day the k-garten teacher told me to count to twenty and I didn’t want to stop counting so I kept going and I had to go to the office and my mother had to come and get me” I put on my therapist face and just looked at her, nodded and said to myself, oh gosh, she is crazy. Well, Dr. Simon, this is a true story and she was five.
    She has accomplished her goal of ruining my life, she has alienated both my sons and heaven knows what stories she has made up, as I have not seen her, nor spoken to her in eight years. I sensed an obsession with me, went back to the books and found that an obsession with vengeance is common. My sons were good people and they are lost to me forever. It is nearly unfathomable that one person has this much power but my son had just lost his father at age 22 so he was vulnerable. She got mad because my husband was not dying of ALS fast enough.

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