Severe Narcissistic Malignancy And Psychopathy

Severe Narcissistic Malignancy

Severe narcissistic malignancy defines psychopathy (alt: sociopathy). Now, I’m well aware of how confusing the terms psychopathy and sociopathy can be. And that’s no accident. Professionals played loose with both terms for years. As a result, the general public understandably became confused. However, it’s well worth examining these character disorders closely.

Extreme character disturbances of all types are more common these days. And that includes those characterized by severe narcissistic malignancy. So, it’s inherently empowering to be in the know about them.

As I’ve written before, narcissism can come in some relatively benign forms. (See: Amorous Narcissists Can Charm Convincingly .) However, when certain aspects of narcissism are extreme, it becomes malignant. (See: The Narcissistic Malignancy Spectrum.) And malignant narcissism lies at the root of the most serious character disturbances. (See: Malignant Narcissism: At the Core of Psychopathy and Malignant Narcissism Goes Beyond Haughtiness.)

Severe narcissistic malignancy is ultimately about heartlessness and extreme ego inflation. When someone lacks empathy it’s problematic enough. But when when they also feel superior and entitled, they can exhibit all manner of ruthlessness.

Antisociality, Psychopathy, and Sociopathy

Folks often use the term “antisocial” incorrectly. Some use it to denote social stand-offishness. However, the technical definition is different. Literally, to be antisocial means to be “against society” or opposed to the social order. Antisocial characters are society’s archetypal rule-breakers. They hate someone telling them what to do. They’re fiesty, contentious, and fiercely independent. (I describe them in In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance as “unbridled aggressive.”) They’re the “hot-headed” among us. In contrast, psychopaths and sociopaths are society’s more “cold-hearted” predators.

As I mentioned, severe narcissitic malignancy is mostly about heartlessness and extreme ego inflation. Early researchers thought people who appeared to have no heart or conscience suffered from a form of insanity. That’s where the term “psychopath” (literally: “diseased mind”) came from. Later researchers focused heaviliy on the socially predatory behavior of such folks. That’s why and how we started using the term “sociopath” more commonly.

As you might expect, antisocial personalities frequently run afoul of the law. But most hot-headed common criminals are not psychopaths. Moreover, many psychopaths are stealthy enough as predators to avoid social sanction. And that makes them even more dangerous. (See also: Predators Among Us: The Psychopaths.)

Like most character disturbances, psychopathy and sociopathy are on a spectrum. And I was the first to describe the folks some have called “almost a psychopath.”  (Others now call these types “covert narcissists”.) These are the folks who can present mask of civility and charm but will still wantonly abuse and exploit you. And they’re the subject of the book that launched my career. Because they can be so adept at looking good, most folks only learn who they are after it’s too late. (See also: How Did We End Up Here?.)

Character Matters

Pathological heartlessness and egomania are certainly not normal but are sadly becoming more common. And I’ll be saying more about the factors contributing to severe narcissistic malignancy in the coming weeks, both in the weekly articles and on the “New” Character Matters program. The current episode explorespersonality, character, and some of the roots of extreme character dysfunction. Find it on YouTube and in the Archives.



5 thoughts on “Severe Narcissistic Malignancy And Psychopathy

  1. I have a question, my grandkids are 5 & 7 yrs old. in the past year and a half they are being taught to strike out at us by direction of their parents. How do I come to this conclusion? My grandkids told me. Here are the problems I am being presented with after having watched them both since they were 6months until they were 3 1/2 & 5 yrs old 3x’s a week so parents could work and have breaks. Drove 1/2 hour 4x’s each day to pick up and drop off.
    3 almost 4 yrs old: suddenly peeing on chair and rugs.
    Climbing on furniture and sitting on arms of furniture.
    Pretending to not remember being told not to.
    Taking candy without asking and laughing when told not to.
    Saying rude things to grandma.
    Telling me I was bad when I was pregnant with their dad.
    Coming in the house soaking wet out of the pool.
    Throwing handfuls of gravel into the pool and laughing at me.

    If you’re thinking I’m being too hard on my grandkids, you’d be wrong. They NEVER were doing this prior. They were very loving and well behaved and respectful. I know they’re being told to do this at my house as I said. Not to mention I’ve seen son and dil teach their kids to be rude to other grandparents.

    What if anything would you do if this was being done to your relationship with your grandkids?
    Talking to the son and dil is pointless…deny deny deny.

    I stopped babysitting when the peeing happened twice as my granddaughter said mommy told her to do it at our house and then she laughed.

    I’ve been limiting sleepovers and pool days as a result as well.

    1. Priscilla,

      So sorry you’re dealing with this. Must be heartbreaking. Such a loss for everyone and using the kids as weapons if just sickening.

      It’s sounds like what you are doing, putting limits and consequences on your grandchildren (and their parents) is all you can do.

      Perhaps when the grandkids realize that grandma isn’t a pushover and that they are only hurting themselves – when I throw gravel in the pool, grandma takes away my pool privileges ( this is explained to them, when you throw gravel in the pool, come in the house soaking wet after being in the pool, you’ve shown me that you don’t respect the rules, so I’m taking that privilege away from you for _____. If after that time, you show me that you can go back to respecting the rules, I will let you back into the pool).

      Perhaps if they learn the cause and effect, they will not get the payoff their looking for and realize it’s in their best interest to go back to following the rules and treating grandma with respect.

      If it were me, any time that pulled any of that shit, (the mocking/laughing peeing on things) I’d say, okay, time to go home – and explain why/consequences(boundaries).

    2. I agree with Mindful on this. You did the right thing by setting boundaries and limiting the parents’ power to harass you through her children. It is pathological how some people are willing to use their children to carry out their dirty work against you. You may want to suggest counseling to them because this is not normal.

  2. “Moreover, many psychopaths are stealthy enough as predators to avoid social sanction. And that makes them even more dangerous.”

    “These are the folks who can present mask of civility and charm but will still wantonly abuse and exploit you.”

    This reminds me of Iago from Othello.
    And in my own life, I have encountered people who wear that “mask of civility and charm” as you mentioned.

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