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 Essential 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 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20856182/