malignant narcissist

12 Red Flags You Are Dealing With a Malignant Narcissist

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Malignant narcissists are among some of the most dangerous types of narcissists. They often meet the criteria for both narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder, and their behavior is typically harmful, exploitative, and destructive (Goldner-Vukov et al., 2010).

Chances are, if you’re dealing with a malignant narcissist, you constantly feel uneasy and angry over your situation. You may also feel trapped, and your safety might be at stake. Let’s get into the other signs of malignant narcissism. 

1 – They Crave Power At All Costs

Most narcissists covet power and control. It helps maintain their limitless egos. But a malignant narcissist is constantly starving for power, and they take no shortcuts to gain as much of it as they need.

Unfortunately, malignant narcissists may work in highly influential careers, making it easy to secure this power. For example, they often hold roles as CEOs, politicians, doctors, or lawyers. 

Even if they work in smaller settings, like schools or local businesses, they want complete control over the daily operations. To satisfy their urges, they have no problem overstepping rules or throwing other people under the bus. 

2 – They Hold Grudges Deeply

If you ever wrong a malignant narcissist, don’t expect them to forget about it. Not only will they remember what happened, but they will probably try to remind you of your mistake every chance they can.

In addition, even more than other types of narcissists, malignant narcissists can easily cut off or estrange others. People are entirely disposable to them. Even if they make you feel special, they can turn off that feeling like it’s a light switch. 

Therefore, malignant narcissists tend to have long lists of enemies, haters, and people who allegedly wronged them. Naturally, they will speak of these people as if they are sub-human, as if they are the worst people ever to exist. But if you dig a little deeper, you will probably find that those people didn’t really do anything wrong! 

3 – They Never Show Remorse

Some narcissists seemingly show regret when they make a bad decision. It doesn’t mean their regret is credible, but it can mean that they know how to practice enough cognitive empathy to feign intimate connections.

The same can’t be said for malignant narcissists. These individuals don’t apologize. They never show an ounce of regret or shame over their past decisions. 

Instead, they often even appear proud of their wrongdoings, justifying and contorting them to make it seem as if they were the genius all along. Even if their mistakes are blatantly obvious, they blame other people or external factors for causing the problem. 

4 – They Enjoy Your Pain

Most narcissists feel threatened by someone else’s success. But malignant narcissists take this feeling a step further. Like sociopaths, malignant narcissists get a sick thrill when other people suffer. That’s because malignant narcissism entails a sense of inherent cruelty- these individuals seemingly get a high from hurting you.

You can tell if they enjoy your pain if they laugh at you when you cry, seem “happy” when things don’t go your way, or try to sabotage your efforts for success. Any of these traits may signify that they relish in your anguish.

Of course, if confronted, they will deny this desire. Instead, they will attack you for being crazy, weird, or jealous. They might even turn your confrontation inside-out, insisting that you’re the one who wants to see them hurting. 

5 – They Never Take Responsibility

One of the classic traits of a malignant narcissist (and most any narcissist) is the inability to assume personal accountability. Instead of acknowledging a mistake, this person will shift the blame, gaslight you, or deny what happened. In other words, they will do anything they can to avoid owning up to their actions.

And if you try to call them out on it? Their anger only escalates. The malignant narcissist does not want to be confronted, and your attempts to do so will likely backfire tenfold.

As a result, you’re stuck apologizing for their behavior, walking on eggshells, or hoping and begging that they change. If other people point out their issues, you often feel responsible for defending them.

6 – They Expertly Plot Revenge 

Malignant narcissists aren’t as impulsive as other narcissists. They may not also be as outwardly grandiose and attention-seeking. Instead, their behavior is far more controlled, making it more insidious and dangerous. 

If they believe someone wronged them, they often spend a great deal of time planning and calculating their next moves. They may spend months brainstorming exactly how they intend to seek revenge. The planning gives them as much of a thrill as the execution.

7 – Their Narcissistic Rage Is Always Triggered 

Does it seem like no matter what you do, you’ve upset the malignant narcissist? Maybe they felt you were criticizing them. Perhaps someone else gave you too much attention. And in some cases, you won’t even know what you did- but you’ll know it was apparently the wrong thing to do!

Whatever the specific reason, their reactions are always extreme and disproportionate to the situation at hand. Narcissistic rage is one of the more dangerous malignant narcissist symptoms, and that’s because their rage can trigger anything from smearing to life-threatening violence. 

8 – They Are Paranoid 

The malignant narcissist tends to be suspicious and untrusting of others. They often believe people have ulterior motives, and this anxiety can manifest out of nowhere.

This paranoia may extend into some seemingly obnoxious behaviors. For example, they might track or stalk people. They may fall deep into rabbit holes about nonsensical conspiracy theories. 

Intervening often feels futile. If you try to suggest a more logical approach, they will likely react by telling you that you’re too naive. 

Unfortunately, their paranoia often seeps into your personal life. Soon, they might be telling you that you can’t spend time with particular family or friends. They may insist they are just concerned about your well-being, but their gestures are out of a selfish desire to keep you insulated from the outside world. 

9 – They Have No Close Friends

Because malignant narcissists exclusively focus on their own needs, they cannot maintain healthy relationships with others. As a result, most people keep a safe distance, only sticking around if they absolutely must.

Malignant narcissists might spend time with other narcissists. But chances are, they spend time with people who suck up to them. These people fulfill their narcissistic supply- it’s why they often hold leadership or executive positions. It forces other people to admire them.

Who genuinely seems to enjoy their company? If you can’t think of anyone, that’s a red flag. It’s also a concern if they have a long list of enemies- it means they have a pattern of overly destructive relationships that end in chaos.

10 – They Frequently Break Laws 

Most narcissists believe they are entitled to whatever they want. But malignant narcissists assume that laws are mere suggestions. They don’t feel the need to subscribe to them if they don’t meet their specific needs.

In some cases, their pattern of breaking laws may seem incredibly bizarre. For example, a wealthy businessman earning millions of dollars might steal a candy bar at the grocery store. Or an ICU surgeon who works with trauma victims might aggressively speed to work every day. 

These strange discrepancies happen because narcissists don’t live in the same plane of reality. They make exceptions that fit their status quo. If they want something, they take it- no questions asked.

11 – They Physically Hurt You

Malignant narcissists are most likely to use violence to control others. Physical violence can come in many forms, but it may include pushing, hitting, kicking, or otherwise harming you without your consent. 

Unfortunately, it’s easy to dismiss violence. You might find yourself justifying what happened or blaming yourself for provoking the narcissist. You may assume that it was just a one-time thing or a quick reaction to anger. 

Keep in mind these narcissists might also harm pets or small children. That’s because they perceive them as “weaker” and easier to control. Unfortunately, the violence often escalates- once they start engaging in this behavior, they usually won’t stop.

12 – They Know They’re Narcissistic 

Believe it or not, some wise narcissists recognize their behavior and have insight into their personalities. Indeed, many malignant narcissists know that they are narcissistic. 

But here’s the thing: knowing doesn’t translate to caring. In fact, some narcissists are proud of their attitudes, and they thrive on the chaos and resentment that comes their way. To them, life is just a big game, and other people are opponents meant to be beaten down.

Ending Your Relationship With a Malignant Narcissist 

Being with a malignant narcissist can undoubtedly be scary. That said, the thought of leaving the relationship may feel even more terrifying.

If this dynamic sounds familiar to you, it’s critical to reach out for support. Make sure that you can find a safe place for you and your children. Avoid any and all contact with the narcissist and consider pursuing legal action if needed.

How to Finally Break Free From the Narcissistic Nightmare

Until I let go of the idea that narcissists weren’t dangerous, I was powerless to stop the crippling doubts and traumatization I experienced.

Today, after healing myself through the exact steps in The Break Free Bootcamp, I experience healthy happy relationships that are kind, supportive, and fulfilling, and I have absolutely no trouble in walking away from anyone who is manipulative or abusive because I feel safe and in ownership of my worth and power.

I want the same for you too.

If you want to become aligned with these truths to actualize your recovery out of the pain and into truly healthy, wholesome, and fulfilling connections, then I’d love to help you.

You can start this journey today by clicking this link.

As always, I eagerly look forward to answering your comments and questions below.


LJ;, G.-V. M. M. (n.d.). Malignant narcissism: From fairy tales to harsh reality. Psychiatria Danubina. Retrieved October 3, 2021, from


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Gwendolyn Climpson says August 9, 2023

When I realized something was wrong with my ex-narc husband, I’d never heard the word or name narcissist. Thank God, after one and a half years of marriage, I had to get out and I did. After listening to Kim Saeed’s program, I went NO CONTACT. I left him with just the clothes on my back, essential papers, and my laptop. This has been about 8-9 years ago, and thank God that I haven’t looked back and have no intentions to do so. Kim, going NO CONTACT was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. I’m still dealing with some residuals of the relationship, but I can truly say, “I’m not where I need to be, but thank God, I’m not where I use to be.” TGBTG (to God be the Glory).

Olivia says August 3, 2022

Do narcissists get worse as they get older? I know my mother had lots of friends when she was younger, some were close friends. But after the age of say, 70, she gradually lost touch with 99% of them and doesn’t have many friends anymore. She doesn’t seem to care either, she just criticises everyone.

Mary says February 13, 2022

I was raised by a single mother who had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It was a living hell.She was physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive. When I was four years old she chased me across the room with a butcher knife and threatened to kill me. Many times she pulled me across the floor by my hair and threw me out of the house and locked me out (because I was crying). She always bullied me by telling me that if I ever told anyone (about the abuse) that I would be taken away to jail and as a child I believed her because I thought it was my fault. My sister became anorexic at age ten and my mother pretended it wasn’t happening. We weren’t allowed to talk about it or even acknowledge it. When I was diagnosed with a chronic illness at age 13 she refused to let me take the prescribed medication. My mother would heat only her own room and leave the rest of the house cold in the winter. She bought food for herself but only bought a bag of apples for each week. She was constantly threatening to kill herself, telling us we would be sorry.The constant gaslighting, abuse, and downright craziness drove my sisters to move out when they were sixteen. They both dropped out of the tenth grade. I left shortly thereafter. It wasn’t like she supporting us, anyway. She always used as her emotional dumping ground but when we needed a parent she couldn’t be bothered. She was busy watching TV and smoking pot. We were expected to take care of her. I always envied my friends who had normal parents who cared about them, who didn’t tell them they “owed them rent for living in their parent’s house. We were always made to feel guilty for having even the most basic needs. She constantly threatened to kick us out of the house. She referred to everything as “my” house, “my” sofa, “my” phone, etc. Nothing was ever “our”. By the time I left home I felt like I had escaped a war zone. It took years of therapy to gain any self worth.

Jay D. says December 7, 2021

Narcissism is a by-product of collectivism or statism (socialism/communism/centralized government) – i.e. the one thing all narcissists share is intellectual dependency, or a deviation from the full use of their own mind and thus reality itself. The socialist, or statist society, requires mass conformity, which translates into mass dysfunction; a society of victims and authoritarians who can’t (or refuse) think for themselves. Today, the target of the narcissist is the person who refuses to conform to collectivism i.e. anyone who embraces Individualism (liberty) is the immediate target of both the Narcissist and their victim. This is a theme that has been playing out for centuries.

    Siggi M says January 4, 2022

    That isn’t remotely how NPD is developed in a person. ALL personality disorders are from missed developmental milestones from between ages 2-5 years old, trauma, neurology, and genetics. It is impossible for an adult to develop a personality disorder because the process must start when someone incredibly young and begin missing milestones like object permanence and object consistency.
    The only reason I responded to this was so people could read factual causes of NPD.

      Themiaestro says March 10, 2023

      I think saggi comments was insensitive to what Mary shared of her ACTUAL life. Please listen before speaking is all I have to say. Some hear need to hear these things.

Karen says October 14, 2021

So accurate but at the same time after years of people letting me down, I learnt to not trust sometimes in a good intuitive way sometimes bad. After counselling and a long time I found out I tolerated too much bad behavior for fear of rejection until it all boiled over like a boiling pan I had a break down. Love should come with good loving connections. The cogenetic behavior course thankfully I found that reality was correct my intuition most of the time right but sadly a small percent wrong and that came from hurt from my past. Sadly a narc will pick the negative until even the positive will offend in effect you can’t win. I found I was right and people did let me down but knew others let themselves down and I was not responsible for others If they mess up their life no matter how heartbreaking it is you can’t always help them. People you love have to find that help for themselves. . You or I are not responsible for a narcs behavior you can point them in the right direction but counselling may not work. Sadly it can be difficult to get help and let people you love go when your depression is so far down a hole but hopefully some day you do get better and start to be happy and get back trust and see love from the people who are there who love you because they see that you are lovable for who you and love is infested into both of you life’s together. . You or I are tool for a narcs nasty view of none trust we make mistakes but through genuine love try to put it right and move forward not digging up dirt for hurt missiles and trouble because a narc will never surrender or see love around them they are stubborn conceited always right . They see the world is out to get them everyone is to them is wrong they are always right and up for a fight. I do feel very sorry for them living through life like that but they choose this life. They can get help but then walk out of counselling with a huge negative because in our case the said person/narc thought the councilor was ignoring them because they where on the opposite side of the street and didn’t say hello. Probably the councilor never saw them so guess the out come counselling stopped because they didn’t say hello. Paranoia in its full glory! Even the councilor was a threat and wasn’t trusted by them!. Kim your site helps so much but it has been a long trip to understand me before I can even try to understand a narc their abuse and their own scrutiny has become their life line they see the world as a thread and fuel a habit of all about themselves yet can’t I believe be cured. So much love to you all on these sites and thank you kim.xxxxxxx

Silvona Rhine says October 4, 2021

This is the type of person I was dealing with for 35yrs and finely broke away from in 2019 when I learned about him thru reading your posts. Thank you! I’m still healing after all this time. I had a dream about him the other night and as soon as I saw his face I immediately jumped up!

Anonymous says October 4, 2021

My ex had 10 out of 12 of the list!

Angela Borg says October 4, 2021

It is a very difficult situation if you have a daughter who shows these narcisistico traits and and she lives with you and has a 6 year old son who I love very much and cannot kick her out because of him !

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