“The Narcissistic Continuum”


There’s a fantastic blog I haven’t mentioned before (because I didn’t know about it), so I’m doing it now. It’s called “The Narcissistic Continuum” and it differs from other narcissism and ACON blogs due to its unique format of ordering its articles according to severity across the narcissistic spectrum, from “healthy narcissism” all the way up to psychopathy/sociopathy. I think this is a fascinating approach.

The blog also looks fantastic and the articles are extremely well written. I’ve just added it to the “Info and Support” tab in my header.

TNC’s owner also has a forum, Web of Narcissism (WoN).

The narcissistic spectrum.

17 thoughts on ““The Narcissistic Continuum”

  1. Thank you, LuckyOtter! I try to check the narcissism blogs each day but don’t always have access (or time) to write comments. I really appreciate your acknowledgment.

    Some people were reluctant to consider “the narcissistic continuum” at first but I think it’s becoming fairly common knowledge. We used to only understand narcissism as a pathological disorder, a fine mix of psychopathy and narcissism. Now we’ve muddied the waters a fair amount with what’s considered to be “normal narcissism” as measured by the NPI (Narcissistic Personality Inventory). Unfortunately, many people have left comments on my blog saying they LIKED their narcissism because they enjoyed being recognized as leaders of the free world and global capitalism. ha! They wouldn’t like their narcissism if they were NPD—there’s a great deal of suffering accompanying this pathological disorder.

    And as you know, many people began questioning their own narcissism, falsely assuming it was similar to those with a NPD. I think it’s wise to question our own narcissism, where we might be getting ourselves in trouble, where we might be limiting our lives because we refuse to examine ourselves. But to equate ‘normal narcissism’ to pathological narcissism is a huge mistake. For one thing, you wouldn’t worry as much about Red Flags if you assumed the pathological narcissist was no different than yourself. This mistake is often made by empathic and accommodating personality-types like myself. I could “see” my issues and my ex’s “issues” and assumed we’d both get better over time. The issue then, is that pathological narcissists do NOT get better over time unless they have intensive psychotherapy and even then, there’s a risk that they can’t be treated.

    I started learning about NPD online during my divorce and enjoyed so much talking with other people in a way most of us can’t face-to-face, that I’ve stayed involved in the ‘recovery’ movement, hopefully adding to the general knowledge about narcissistic relationships. I’ve made some lifelong friends too and it’s been an extremely rewarding experience running a forum and writing a blog. My time is very occupied right now because I take care of my daughter with MS and there are weeks when our days are spent in waiting rooms and medical offices. Being able to have online friends has kept me connected to the world and I appreciate so much the healthy communities being created online.

    p.s. The Web of Narcissism forum is not inactive…it’s slow compared to other groups. We were so busy at one point that we needed a dedicated server to handle the traffic and the costs of maintenance outstripped my budget. ha! So we’ve reduced traffic dramatically by pulling the forum off search engines. However, the good thing is that there’s more privacy for people who choose to post. I think blogs are more popular today than forums but there are several very active forums which are either “pay-to-post” or sponsored with fund drives. Forums used to be (way back in the day, ha!) the most popular method for educating people about pathology and bringing people together.

    Thank you so much for mentioning my sites. That’s very kind of you, LO! I enjoy reading your blog, too and am amazed at how quickly you are able to compose multiple posts. I”m kinda like a snail…I have to think of an idea and let it creep about in my mind for awhile before writing. And then it can take a few days to put a post together but it’s such a rewarding thing to do.


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  2. CZBZ,
    I was going to email you last night and let you know I was “pimping your blog” here (lol) but I was too tired, and lo and behold, you show up! You might have received a pingback or trackback on your site though.

    I wanted to say (well, I already said) I love your site and also think it’s easy on the eyes. Some blogs are great but just LOOK so awful it hurts my eyes after awhile and I can’t stay on them very long.

    I love continuums too, because as an Aspie, I’ve always liked ordering and categorizing things, and a continuum is right up my alley.
    It occurred to me though, almost all people have healthy narcissism (unless your self esteem has been all but obliterated by malignant narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths). So it would follow that almost all people would be on the narcissism spectrum.

    I agree with you that ASPD belongs on the narcissm spectrum and is really just a “nicer” name for sociopathy/psychopathy. I wrote about this in my article, Is ASPD really NPD on crack? Let me know what you think.

    I never heard of DNP until I found your blog, which is surprising because I would think this is very common.. I think a lot of people are DNP, possibly including me. As a Borderline (I recently came out about it), another Cluster B disorder related to NPD I have a lot of narcissistic traits. So would borderlines have a form of DNP or be comorbid with that? One thing that might be different though–someone with DNP would have a stunted or limited conscience/empathy capacity while someone with BPD has a conscience and ability to feel empathy, but they get so involved in drama and their own issues they sometimes “forget” that others exist.

    Do you know where I could go to get some more info about DNP? Is it listed in the current DSM?

    I also have some confusion about the delineation between malignant narcissism and sociopathy/psychopathy. How would MN’s be lower on the spectrum?

    Sorry about all the questions, I hope you have time to reply.

    I also edited the post about the forum not being active. Sorry about that!

    I do think blogs (and social media like Facebook) have overtaken forums, which used to be huge but don’t seem to be anymore. Most forums I know of have lost activity or been overrun by trolls in some cases. There are some that are still active, but they do seem to be losing popularity overall. I think it’s a shame, because I always liked the thread/topic format of forums. Again, probably my Aspie obsession with order and categorizing things. I really can’t stand social media even though I use it as a way to promote my stuff (and have lately gotten active on FB because I made some new friends there). BTW, do you know what’s up with all the Facebook groups for narcissistic abuse survivors/ACONs? How many of these groups are there anyway? They seem to be endless. I can’t join all of them and it makes you wonder which ones are “good” and which ones are “bad.”

    I hope you like the little graphic I made of the continuum. You are free to use it on your blog if you wish.

    I guess that’s it for now. Good talking to you again. 🙂 t Hugs backatcha!

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    • Dr. Nina Brown has written about the DNP (destructive narcissistic patterns). She has several terrific books that are very accessible to the general public. Her theoretical book came out a few years ago but the cost is prohibitive for most people. She writes in the first chapter of her book, “the concept of destructive narcissism, which is considered to be less severe and limiting than pathological narcissism as defined by the DSM-IV, but is, nevertheless, characterized by the negative impact on forming and maintaining satisfying and stable relationships.”

      Her concept of the DNP is a bridge between normal narcissism and pathological (NPD).

      I’m surprised you (and others) haven’t come across Dr. Brown’s books, especially “Loving the Self-Absorbed.” She was my main resource when learning about narcissism. It’s very very interesting to me that she has not been promoted or recognized for the valuable contributions she has made describing a destructive narcissism. Be sure to check out her books which might seem simplistic to people who like “theory” however, she offers practical tips and insights that people can put to use without reading Dr. Kohut or Dr. Kernberg! How much does anyone have to know about the intricacies of NPD? What we need to know is how to deal with someone who is narcissistic. How to work through our personal narcissism if we are behaving in ways that are problematic for our relationships. I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Brown and I wish she had more exposure to the public.


      The link above is a graph I created on my blog (it’s located at the top of the right sidebar) which has helped people understand the terms we read all the time but aren’t quite sure what they mean. Like “normal” versus “unhealthy” narcissism, for example. I tried to fit everything on the graph that people were likely to come across while learning about narcissism. This graph took at least a couple of years to figure out. After I pulled it together, a top notch psychologist looked at my work before publishing in on my blog. The last thing I want to do is lead anyone astray! I try to be scrupulous about giving credit to psychologists and adding links so people who are kinda obsessive like myself, can read psychologists’ books and articles.

      As far as AsPD being on the narcissism spectrum, Dr. Kernberg wrote, “The antisocial personality disorder (psychopathic) merits distinction from Cluster B disorders and may be considered a subgroup of the narcissistic personality”.

      In distinguishing malignant narcissism from AsPD, Dr. Elsa Ronningstam wrote, “A more severe level of superego dysfunction in people with a narcissistic personality structure has been captured by the term “malignant narcissism”. This is a form of characterological functioning that falls between NPD and AsPD…people with malignant narcissism differ from people with AsPD since they still have the capability for loyalty and concerns for others, and for feeling guilty.”

      I am totally spent tonight and will come back in the morning and read your article. I think most of your questions can be answered on my Narcissism Key Graph. I’m am very pleased to talk about “the narcissistic continuum” so don’t apologize for asking questions! I may not have the answers you’re looking for but it’s always a pleasure to talk things out.

      Be back in the morning….thanks, LuckyOtter!

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      • Hi there again!
        It’s funny you posted this just after I found some info on Nina Brown’s books and posted the link on Amazon. I want to read it myself.

        This stood out to me:
        …people with malignant narcissism differ from people with AsPD since they still have the capability for loyalty and concerns for others, and for feeling guilty.”

        Now I’m even more confused! Malignant narcissists have capacity for loyalty, concern for others and feeling guilty? If so, then what distinguishes them from people with garden variety NPD? The willingness to hurt others or a sadistic impulse? I know garden variety narcs don’t set out to hurt others, but will if they must to get what they need/want. Maybe MN’s are more sadistic? It’s very confusing.
        I’m taking a look at your graph now and will comment later.
        Thank you for the updates. Take care and sleep well.


        • Hi again (after a good night’s rest)…As you have probably realized after studying NPD, psychologists have varying opinions. They even argue about the DSM criteria being inadequate/invalid. When social psychologists added narcissism studies (sub-clinical, normal narcissism) to clinical psychologists work with pathological narcissists (NPD), a growing fountain of knowledge basically turned to mud. It was a luxury learning about narcissism as a pathological state. It’s more confusing now, I think.

          Key to understanding Ronningstam’s description is that malignant narcissists “have the capacity” for empathy, loyalty and guilt (as do people with NPD). Malignant narcissism is a more severe dysfunction with accompanying paranoid traits and ego-syntonic aggression. A few distinctions between NPD and Malignant Narcissism are: interpersonal sadism, self-justifiable violent behavior (people with NPD are unlikely to engage in antisocial/criminal behaviors), self-destructiveness which includes suicidal preoccupation.

          Malignant narcissists have been associated with murderous feelings after chronic humiliation or feeling like a loser/nobody, leading to revenge killings. I mention this because if anyone believes an ex is a malignant narcissist, you might reconsider ‘getting even’ with him or her! We don’t usually associate murder with NPD but in the case of the malignant narcissist, whose self-esteem increases with aggression, backing down can be an act of courage and intelligence. It means you’ve done your homework and have a healthy respect for pathology.

          I think it’s best (for those of us who are not psychologists) to pick a psychologist we like and then use their descriptions as the basis for understanding the narcissistic continuum. And then expect kickback from someone who likes Dr. so-and-so’s descriptions better.

          The NPD community is nowhere near to the BPD consensus on etiology and treatment. Perhaps NPD will follow the same track as BPD although there’s a difference in that no one has suggested it’s healthy to be borderline. Yes, there’s a continuum of traits and behaviors with BPD but there isn’t an Ideal borderline state (like ideal healthy narcissism). Where this is all headed, who knows? It’s kinda exciting to watch things unfold.

          If you like categorizing differences, (and I’m guessing you do!), read Dr. Elsa Ronningstam’s book, “Identifying and understanding the Narcissistic Personality.” It was published in 2005 but you can find newer articles by her (and a video on YouTube).


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          • Thank you for clearing up the distinction between malignant narcissism and NPD. My ex is definitely a MN– maybe I better NOT jump into trying to fight the circumstances that led to his disability increase….people had been trying to tell me this but I can be over-bold and headstrong when angry. It’s my BPD impulsiveness, I think. I get so riled up and have to DO something — and don’t really think over the consequences. I think I just need to learn to accept things with him as they are, and pray a lot for acceptance and peace within myself. If he deserves retributional karma or whatever, it’s not up to me to provide it. God or the universe eventually will.

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            • You heard me…yes, I think it’s wise to know When To Back Away. I kinda wondered if your ex told your daughter about his $$ simply because he knew it would rile you up. He knows you value honesty and integrity, so suggesting he was “cheating the system” would be a way to trigger you into action. It’s a hard thing to learn, just sitting on our hands and doing nothing. It challenges our notion of being a “stand up person” and “doing the right thing” because sometimes—the right thing is doing nothing.

              You are really bright, Lucky and you may be able to categorize distinctions in a clearer manner than I’ve been able to come up with. I always looks forward to your posts, reading what you’ve studied and the personal way in which each of us integrates the information. It is quite fascinating and inspiring reading blogs by people who put their own creative twist on some rather…shall I say boring data?! ha!

              One last bit of info for my friend for whom I wish nothing but peace and happiness: think of your ex’s malignant narcissism like starving rottweiler. Would you even try to take away his foodbowl?

              p.s. (a bit off-topic) If he is cheating the system, then the system is at fault and not you. Perhaps he is lying to your daughter…but just in case he isn’t and just in case he’s getting a buttload of money from SSDI, you don’t wanna mess with his food bowl. If he thinks his survival is at stake, there’s no telling how far he would go to get revenge. Maybe he’d never take action but the possibility is there if he’s a malignant narcissist.


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  3. Thanks for the terrific info! I believe we need enough narcissism to keep us fed and sheltered–and not playing with grizzly bears!–but when it encourages harm to others, it’s pathology. I have always argued that the root of all evil isn’t money; it’s narcissism. Thinking that you’re the only real person on earth and that your wishes are more important than anyone else’s rights, etc. Wish they had a pill for that!

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    • It’s very disturbing the way narcissism has become a virtue and empathy etc. a “weakness.” If I was a fundamentalist Christian I would be saying it’s a sign of the last days and Satan’s dominion over the earth. I don’t know why things have reversed in recent times where bad is good and good is bad, etc. but I do know it’s evil.


    • “The root of evil isn’t money; it’s narcissism. Thinking that you’re the only real person on earth and that your wishes are more important than anyone else’s rights”

      Excellent comment! Thanks for that!

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  4. The Narcissistic Continuum was one of the first blogs I came across when I first started reading and learning about narcissism. I spent many a late night bleary eyed in front of the screen reading CZBZ’s articles plus many of the comments. As well as doing some of my own commenting.

    I have not been to visit in a while though, so you’ve stirred my curiosity to see what’s new there and will visit soon. Maybe now. lol.

    Also, I’d like to know too if there’s more info on DNP. That’s a new term for me.

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    • I can’t believe I didn’t come across her site sooner what with all the reading I’ve been doing about narcissism since July or so. I am really very curious about this DNP too!

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    • Hi safirefalcon! I spent many a night bleary eyed in front of my computer, too. It makes me happy that you found comfort in my ideas, my stories, the way I’ve integrated information about NPD. I don’t have as much time to write articles these days but now and then I feel my skin will burst if I don’t. Thank goodness for understanding readers who are willing to put up with my unpredictable posting.

      And LuckyOtter–I can’t believe you didn’t see my site earlier, either. boohoo! It appears wordpress does a much better job promoting websites than blogger. I notice you guys have “like” features and “reblogs” and all kinds of social media stuff that we don’t have on blogspot! A friend tried to get me to the “WordPress Switch” a few years ago after she left blogspot because her traffic increased immediately. So anyway, thank you for visiting your third cousin over there in blogspot-ville, the community people drive by on their way to better places. hahaha


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  5. I Googled DNP and came across this definition:
    The destructive narcissistic pattern (DNP) is a term used to describe a constellation of characteristics generally associated with pathological narcissism, but which are fewer and less severe. Nonetheless, these characteristics negatively impact relationships. The destructive narcisist’s typical interaction produces negative reactions in others. For example, the individual devalues others, lacks empathy, has a sense of entitlement, and is emotionally shallow. He may function very well and be successful economically, but is unable to form and maintain stable relationships, as evidenced by numerous partners or marriages. The DNP, Brown asserts, is often unrecognized. Although others may find him frustrating and difficult, the individual with DNP can be charming when charm is perceived to be to his benefit.
    You can order Nina Brown’s book “The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern” here:

    I may write a post about this later.

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  6. CZBZ–the work you did on your graph is impressive. I think it makes sense too. I did a little reading on your blog about productive/extraordinary narcissists — interesting stuff indeed.
    Malignant narcissism as a hybrid or halfway point between garden variety NPD and ASPD seems to make a lot of sense too. One thing that distinguishes ASPD though is impulse control–I think people with ASPD are more like borderlines in that they lack the ability to plan ahead and tend to act out impulsively without thinking about consequences. Of course not all psychopaths are like this. The most “successful” serial killers, like Ted Bundy, were those who chose a victim, watched them, stalked them and carefully planned out the details of how the murder would be carried out. Would someone like Ted Bundy who eluded the police for years due to his careful planning have malignant narcissism or ASPD?

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    • Very interesting thoughts about borderline impulsiveness and AsPD. I’ve only recently delved into BPD because the preferred treatment works well for anyone who partnered with a narcissist, I think. DBT, mindfulness, mentalization—all these techniques have proved helpful either for myself or the people I live with.The whole of society could use a little DBT in their lives! It’s amazing what passes as normal. ha!

      In the case of Ted Bundy, I’d categorize him as “psychopathic”, not a malignant narcissist. His ability to plan ways to trap his victims by playing on their ‘normal’ emotions, indicates psychopathy. He was cool and collected enough to evade authorities for YEARS. I think malignant narcissists have too many deficiencies to pass as “normal” the way Ted Bundy did. Of the malignant narcissists I know (granted that’s only a couple which is why I must rely on clinical studies), they were too hot-headed, too reactive, too rash to exist undetected. Bundy had a fine mix of pathological narcissism and psychopathic traits which might define the Malignant Narcissist (according to some) but his “coolness” is what makes me think of psychopathy. How about you? What do you think?

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      • Yes, I agree with you about Bundy. He gave a very sane and good impression (hell, he even worked in a rape crisis center!) and even the smart college educated women he stalked fell for his charms.

        In contrast, every malignant narcissist I have known acts, well, batshit crazy. They don’t give that great an impression for any lasting amount of time because they are hot headed like you said and prone to frequent rages. There are cracks in their armor that a true psychopath does not have. I also agree with you that while they may be sadistic, they don’t stalk their prey in the same calculating, cold manner a true psychopath does.

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