How does malignant narcissism differ from NPD?

demonic

There’s a lot of talk about the narcissistic spectrum — the idea that narcissism runs on a spectrum from “normal” narcissism (healthy self esteem) all the way through malignant narcissism at the top. Somewhere in the middle, “normal” or “healthy” narcissism shades into Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

While I do think narcissism runs on a spectrum, I don’t think “healthy” narcissism has much, if anything, to do with pathological narcissism. Healthy narcissism is what makes us stand up for ourselves when we are being attacked. Healthy narcissism is what makes us feel proud of ourselves when we’ve accomplished something good. Healthy narcissism is what makes us want to look our best when we’re going on a date.

People who are narcissists, on the other hand, have little to no self-esteem. They either hate who they really are, or they don’t know who they really are, so they develop a false self to stand in for their real one. The false self can only survive by feeding off the reactions of others (narcissistic supply). That’s why narcissists can be so manipulative and dangerous. Since they are usually in their “false self,” and can’t risk exposure of their vulnerable real one, they will go to extreme measures to keep their false self intact, which includes projecting any bad traits onto others, denial, lying, gaslighting, and other tactics meant to deflect attention away from any flaws and transfer them onto others.

To a narcissist, you are not a real person, since a false self can’t acknowledge your humanity, only your usefulness to them. Like an infant who hasn’t yet realized they are a separate entity from their mother, your only purpose is to serve them and keep them alive. Narcissists, like babies, are emotionally unable to recognize that you are a human being who has needs and desires of your own.

You can be a pathological narcissist without being a malignant one, though. Malignant narcissism isn’t a person with NPD who is “more” narcissistic; it’s a person who has both Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)or an NPD with ASPD or sociopathic/psychopathic traits. Malignant narcissists are very dangerous because they combine the traits of narcissism with the traits of a sociopath or psychopath.

From Wikipedia:

The APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision (DSM IV-TR), defines antisocial personality disorder (Cluster B):[19]

A) A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:
–failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
–deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
–impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
–irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
–reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
–consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
–lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
C) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.
Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) falls under the dramatic/erratic cluster of personality disorders, the so-called “Cluster B.”

I probably don’t need to define NPD here, since so much of this blog is about that.  While several of the traits of NPD and ASPD overlap (lack of empathy, aggression, and dishonesty), there are some differences too.   Conscience isn’t entirely lacking in a narcissist (though empathy, which is different from conscience, probably is).  In fact, some narcissists are overly concerned with “right” and “wrong” (of course, they’re always right) and never do anything remotely illegal and may seem concerned about “morals.”   That’s why so many of them are so judgmental and they can so commonly be found in churches and the helping professions.   Narcissists are also over-sensitive to criticism and care very much what others think of them, since the mask they wear requires the approval or at least attention of others.   People with ASPD and psychopaths (the latter are merely people who were probably born without a conscience or the ability to feel empathy) have no need for narcissistic supply from others since they aren’t wearing a mask.     They just want to do what they want to do and don’t care what you think of them.   They are not what anyone would call “sensitive” but most narcissists are incredibly sensitive (about themselves).   Unlike narcissists, who have strong emotions which are hidden due to shame, people with ASPD seem to not have any emotions, or their emotions seem limited to anger or boredom.    People with ASPD are also much more impulsive than narcissists, and don’t plan their actions ahead of time.  They act on whim, according to whatever strikes their fancy at the time.   They are also much more likely than people with NPD to break the law and be incarcerated (so there are a lot more narcissists walking around than antisocial people, which makes them more dangerous).

Malignant narcissists are a deadly combination of antisocial and narcissistic traits.   Because they are still narcissists, they are oversensitive to criticism, but unlike garden-variety narcissists, they have no conscience or sense of right from wrong.  Or if they do, they don’t care.  They are sadistic and enjoy the suffering they cause others.   They go out of their way to hurt others, because hurting others makes them feel good.    If you cause a malignant narcissist to suffer narcissistic injury, they will react in very antisocial ways.  They are spiteful and seek revenge when they are hurt.  They also tend to be extremely paranoid and act out against others pre-emptively to prevent injury.  A garden variety narcissist, when injured, may annoy you to death, demand reassurance, project, gaslight, or disappear, but won’t deliberately seek revenge just to hurt you.   They are broken people desperately trying to keep their false self intact but are almost always unaware of this.  They may be paranoid, but not to the point of pre-emptive attacks to avoid narcissistic injury.   Malignant narcissists also like to create chaos and tend to thrive in chaotic environments, where other people (including non-malignant NPDs) would just fall apart.  They may not be criminals or do anything against the law, but they like to cause upheaval, chaos and suffering.

Non-malignant narcissists are manipulative and dangerous too, but they don’t go out of their way to hurt others.   They are probably unaware of the pain they cause other people, and just think they are always right and that others are just extensions of themselves.   They may truly believe they are doing the right thing, truly believe you are at fault, or truly believe the person they are victimizing is really victimizing them.   Some non-malignant narcissists, if they ever become aware of the harm they cause to others, suffer from feelings of guilt and shame and even remorse.    Not so with malignant narcissists, who are usually fully aware of the pain they cause to others and derive sadistic pleasure from it.

Malignant narcissists, outside of an act of God, probably can never get any better.  They will never voluntarily enter therapy because they don’t think they have a problem; it’s everyone else who has the problem and deserves their wrath.   If there are evil people in the world, people with malignant narcissism would fit the bill better than anyone else.  Non-malignant narcissists may be extremely disordered, but they aren’t evil.  They may have moments of humanity and even emotional empathy.  They may be very difficult to cure (NPD is probably the most difficult personality disorder to cure outside of ASPD) but sometimes they voluntarily enter therapy, especially after a great loss.  A malignant narcissist would never be caught dead in a therapist’s office.

Where does this silly idea that covert narcissism is the most malignant come from?

evil_queen

I used to believe malignant narcissism was at the top of the narcissistic spectrum, but after learning and reading more,  I’ve changed my opinion somewhat.  I think malignant narcissism is actually a hybrid of NPD + ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) or NPD with sociopathic traits. So it’s not really “higher” on the spectrum than “normal” NPD, it’s NPD that crosses over into the psychopathy or sociopathy spectrum.    They are narcissists that possess all three of the “Dark Triad” traits–narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.   I wrote about the Dark Triad in this post.

For some stupid reason, the web is filled with declarations of covert narcissism being the “most malignant” form of NPD. I call BS on that! Covert narcs are the most likely to be self aware and their NPD is less ego syntonic than the overt type.  They are far more likely than overt narcs to feel guilt and shame and want to change their behaviors and even present for therapy.    I used to frequent a forum where a number of diagnosed and self-avowed narcissists posted about their disorder, and the vast majority were the covert, fragile type and were definitely not happy being narcissists (if that’s what they were at all).  Covert narcissists, being non-aggressive, are (much like borderlines, who they resemble in many ways) likely to become codependent to an overt or malignant narcissist.    They are often victimized themselves (a malignant narcissist would never become a victim!).   I’m not defending covert narcissists.  They are still narcs and are still dangerous.   They should be avoided whenever possible. But it’s time to set the record straight.   The only reason covert narcissism might be more “malignant” is because their disorder is harder to see. Covert narcissists don’t wear a neon sign announcing they are narcissists.

Due to their sociopathic/psychopathic traits, malignant narcissism is ego-syntonic and the afflicted person will almost never think they are the ones with a problem. Even if they become self aware, they will still be “happy” with their disorder and tend to blame everyone else when things go wrong–and enjoy doing so.

Because of this, malignant narcissists will never present for therapy (unless they are forced to) and if they do, they can never get better, because the willingness to isn’t there. Non-malignant NPD, while difficult to treat, may be curable IF the patient is self-aware and willing and their disorder is ego-dystonic (which it often is in the covert subtype) .

There is a cruelty and sadism to malignant narcissists that’s missing in garden variety narcissists. Most narcissists don’t set out to deliberately hurt others, but malignant narcissists do. While they’re getting their supply, they also get a thrill from making others suffer.  Like vultures, they feed off your pain.   In contrast, some “benign” narcissists might even feel guilt when it’s called to their attention they hurt someone, even though they still keep doing it because they can’t help themselves and like a drug addict, getting their fix of supply is more important than the feelings of their victims. But malignant narcissists actually want to see their victims suffer, or at the very least, don’t care.   Malignant narcissists are almost always the overt, grandiose type.   It’s virtually impossible for a covert narcissist to become malignant, because they are generally not happy with themselves, even if they aren’t aware of their own narcissism.

There’s another difference too.    The malignant narcs I have known have a cold deadness to their eyes that’s not as evident in people with garden variety NPD.   Their eyes can also be very predatory, seeming to bore right through to your soul. That’s their one saving grace: their eyes warn you of how dangerous they are.

The narcissistic spectrum according to Lucky Otter

Man looking at reflection in mirror

A friend and I were talking about where exactly different levels of narcissism would fall on the N-spectrum. Of course narcissism (or any psychological topic) isn’t an exact science so giving the different levels numerical values seems a little silly, but in my mind this is how I view the different levels on the spectrum, starting with a Baseline of O (on most narcissism spectrums, “healthy” narcissism is at baseline) and the transition to NPD at around 5, which is smack dab in the middle. Narcissism becomes pathological (causing the person or others problems) at around 4.
Please note these are just my own subjective ideas.  I’m a geek who likes to classify things.

The Narcissistic Spectrum according to Lucky Otter

9-10:
Sociopathy:
A person at this level is almost indistinguishable from someone with ASPD (antisocial personality disorder), but an NPD sociopath is more concerned about image or obtaining supply than a pure ASPDer. Most cult leaders fall here. (Psychopathy appears similar to sociopathy in behaviors, but describes a condition that a person is born with instead of one that was acquired; many psychopaths were never abused and were always like that, but sociopaths were made).

8-9:
Malignant Narcissism:
A person at this level has severe NPD with antisocial traits. A person at this level will show more emotion (usually rage) than a narcissistic sociopath. Usually fits all the DSM criteria or most of them.

7-8:
Severe NPD:
Not malignant because there is no sadism present, but person is still highly dangerous and manipulative. Fits most or all of the 9 criteria and symptoms are severe.

narcissist-bird

6-7:
Moderate NPD:
A person at this level may be barely tolerable, if contact with them is casual or seldom. Fits more than 5 of the 9 criteria.

5-6:
Mild NPD:
A person at this level fits 5 of the 9 DSM criteria for NPD but symptoms are not too severe and they may have moments of acting like a decent human being. NPDers at this level may occasionally respond well to therapy or seek it out.

—Pathological—

4-5:
Narcissistic Personality (Destructive Narcissistic Pattern disorder or DNP):
  A person here fits fewer than 5 of the 9 NPD criteria in the DSM but has at least three.  Symptoms may not be that severe and the person at this level is more in touch with their true self and may seek therapy.  They usually have the capacity to feel empathy but it’s limited.

3-4:
Non-Pathological Narcissistic Personality:
Your garden variety self-centered jerk but may genuinely care about those they love.  Not particularly dangerous. Has moments of insight into themselves or empathy for others, especially their loved ones.

0-3:
“Healthy” narcissism.
Most normal people can be found here.

O (Baseline) and lower:
People down in the negative digits might as well be wearing a “KICK ME” sign. They are almost always victims of narcissists and sometimes even normal people give them a hard time or take advantage of them.

npd_spectrum
The simplified spectrum. Psychopathy does not belong here at all.

Covert (“fragile”) narcissists may be found anywhere on the spectrum, but because their narcissism is more hidden and arrogance and grandiosity may be absent, a covert narcissist at any level is harder to identify. They may appear to have BPD, Avoidant PD, or Aspergers Syndrome instead (these are the three disorders most often confused with Covert Narcissism).

High-functioning (successful) narcissists are more likely to be found high on the spectrum, and sociopaths are often extremely high-functioning. There are many sociopaths (and psychopaths, who were generally born with a different brain structure and may not have been abused) in politics, religion, and heading huge corporations. Sociopathic traits and most NPD traits are generally sought after in the higher echelons of business, politics and entertainment. A person with just the “right” combination of antisocial behavior and arrogance, entitlement, grandiosity, and fake confidence can be a devastating adversary or competitor, and they will have no scruples about crushing you into the ground to achieve their goals.

Most high-functioning narcissists tend to be the Grandiose (classic, or overt) type that best fits the DSM criteria.

Covert and overt narcissists all have the same disorder, but for most, one form or the other is dominant. That said, they can and do switch back and forth in the same person. I think temperament is partly to do with whether someone is overt or covert (the more timid or fearful types leaning toward covert narcissism), but I also think circumstances (such as a sudden loss or gain of supply) can cause a switch from overt to covert or vice versa.

Low-functioning narcissists are much more likely to be covert.  They tend to receive less supply than overt narcissists, so their false self is weaker (the “deflated” false self, according to Masterson). Because of their discontent with their lives and general lack of success, covert narcissists are more likely than overt ones to seek help. If a covert narcissist suddenly begins to receive a lot of supply, they can become much more overt-acting (grandiose, entitled and arrogant). If an overt/grandiose narcissist suffers a huge loss of supply, they can sink into depression and become covert (at which point they are more likely to seek help).

We Are All Narcissists

An interesting and slightly scary walk along the narcissistic continuum, from “healthy” (adaptive) narcissism up to sociopathic or malignant narcissism…

I think age of NPD onset correlates with malignancy and curability.

kids_different_ages

Because of a recent conversation I was having on Psychforums about age of onset and prognosis for a cure for different levels of narcissism, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this.

I do think how old a narcissist was when Ground Zero occurred–that would be the primary traumatic event that forced the child to create a False Self–determines the difficulty/ease of healing, and also how low or high the narcissist falls on the spectrum.

Here’s what I came up with.

Age of onset of Trauma/stage of child development (Piaget, Freud):

0-2 (Piaget’s Sensorimotor stage; establishing boundaries, physical and comfort needs met; Freudian Oral/Anal stage):

toddler_bear

High spectrum, malignant narcissism and/or psychopathy/sociopathy (if as an infant)– not curable except under extreme circumstances in very rare cases. May be self aware but has no incentive to change.

3-6 (Piaget’s Concrete Operations; Freudian Anal–Oedipal/Electra stage )

childabuse

Mid-high spectrum narcissist who may or may not be malignant. May become self aware but will be resistant to a cure. In unusual circumstances (total loss of supply or primary supply), a narcissist this high on the spectrum might seek therapy. They are unlikely to be willing to do all the work required for healing due to its difficulty for someone this high, but there might be a few exceptions.

7-11 (Piaget’s Formal Operational stage; abstract learning, competence; Freudian “latency” period)

sad_girl2

Mid-spectrum narcissist. Could become self aware and if so, there’s a good chance of them seeking therapy or treatment. They’re more likely to be cured, but it’s not a guarantee.
Therapy would be difficult at the higher end (onset before 8-9), moderately easy at lower end (onset between 9-11).

12-21 (adolescence)

sadness

sadness

Low-mid spectrum narcissist. Likely to become self aware and good chance of being cured.
Low spectrum at the higher ages (onset after 15/16), mid spectrum at the lower ages (younger than 15).
Good prognosis for a cure and self awareness. If very low, may be able to heal him or herself without outside help

21 +

How's my hair?

How’s my hair?

A person cannot become a true narcissist after age 21 or so. They may instead have a lot of narcissistic traits, have DNP (Destructive Narcissistic Pattern disorder–just below NPD on the spectrum), or in rare cases they could develop “acquired narcissism” (this is something a lot of celebrities and famous people get) which is temporary and lasts only as long as the adulation or fame lasts.

ETA: I got a rebuttal to this on Psychforums. I think this poster’s argument may be valid too, so I’m going to post it:

I believe the PD occurs in the first 5-6 years due to abuse/trauma, the critical level of which differs for each person depending on genetics (temperament, sensitivity).

I think NPD-like traits resulting from abuse/trauma after age 6 would be cPTSD to a normally developed personality.

I suspect traits from coddling/overvaluation after age 6 would be easier to “return to earth” from than something like sexual abuse and humiliation (say, having to testify in court) after age 6. I think the former might be unwind’able to a level of stable narcissism. I think the latter could be a more permanent scar/condition.

left-out_child

But, I don’t know much about. That’s just the way I think of it. It doesn’t seem feasible that PD could occur after the P(personality) is developed. I thought the whole point of a PD was that the P stopped developing, became a defective structure. Not merely unresolved trauma (like PTSD is?) but structural and permanent.

Basically his argument is that after age 6, true narcissism won’t develop but complex PTSD (C-PTSD) could. This could mean a child acquires a lot of narcissistic traits (what ACONs call “fleas”) that could resemble NPD in many ways but is more treatable/curable. I think this would be the same thing as the spectrum condition called the Destructive Narcissistic Pattern (DNP)
This would also take into account type of abuse inflicted and level of severity.

What exactly is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

For those of you who follow this blog, this question probably seems like a no-brainer, but this is one of the most informative and readable articles I’ve ever read on the subject, and I even learned a few new things I didn’t know, so I wanted to share it.

What Exactly Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
By Christine Louis deCanonville, author of The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse

deviantartecho
Narcissus and Echo by Esstera, Deviantart

Explaining the Many Facets of Narcissism!

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, what exactly is it? Trying to explain exactly what narcissistic personality is takes some doing, the reason being that there are so many facets of behaviour involved. However, Narcissism, roughly translated means “love of oneself”. The term itself refers to a set of character traits that involve self-admiration, self-centeredness, and self-regard; to the point where the narcissistic person becomes very grandiose, arrogant, aggressive, lacking in empathy for others, superior to everybody else, and sporting a sense of entitlement that leaves them in constant need for attention and admiration in all their relationships. The term was coined by Sigmund Freud who picked the myth of Narcissus as a symbol of a self-absorbed person whose libido is invested in the ego itself, rather than in other people. There are several versions of the myth, but roughly translated Narcissus, in Greek mythology, was a beautiful Greek boy who found himself to be so attractive, that he falls in love with his own reflection. The term narcissistic personality disorder, also taken from the myth, describes a self-loving character with grandiose feelings of uniqueness.

The Spectrum of Narcissism is on a Continuum.

Narcissism is a spectrum of behaviour that is prevalent in the human condition universally. What this means is that we are all narcissistic to a degree, and the narcissistic traits can range on a continuum from 1 – 10, from what we call Healthy Narcissism (being a 1), all the way to a pathological form, called Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD (being a 10), with varying degrees in between. When narcissism reaches a stage called “Malignant Narcissism” the person consistently manifests at least 5 of the 9 criteria necessary to put it into the category of being a mental disorder.

To the casual observer, telling the difference between a normal range narcissistic personality and a narcissistically disordered personality may not be very evident to begin with, because the difference is the difference between the individuals “intentions”. The healthy narcissistic personality operates from a place of good will towards another person, while the unhealthy malignant disordered personality operates from a place of ill will towards another person, which naturally enough puts a chasm between them.

Healthy Narcissism Style vs. Unhealthy Narcissism:

Every human being craves approval. This need for approval is driven by the ego in order to make us feel loved, important, powerful and in control, and perhaps even more importantly, to steer us away from any criticism, which can lead to feelings of inferiority. Adler (psychologist) believed that it was the pain of inferiority that motivated all human action to strive for a sense of superiority and perfection. This is natural, and is healthy narcissism in action, a normal defense that is essential for psychological health. It is this action that protects us from painful disappointments, failures, and keeps us away from feelings of helplessness. This boosting of our morale (Healthy Narcissism) is what motivates us to do better with our lives.

Read the rest of Christine’s article here.

The Cluster B stigma and the nature of evil.

evil_face

I don’t care if what I’m about to say is controversial or unpopular.

There are some folks in the ACON community who think ALL narcissists are evil, and some think all BPDs are evil too. (In fact there are some BPDs who are worse than some narcs).
It’s understandable why people feel that way (and I did for a time myself), but the people who abused them were usually high spectrum malignant narcissists or sociopaths so they think all narcissists (and even all Cluster Bs) are as bad as the abusive or rejecting parents who raised them.

cluster_b

The stigma against Cluster B disorders is very pervasive and it’s getting worse. NPD used to just be a psychiatric diagnosis. Now it’s a condemnation to hell. Even if a low-mid spectrum narc or a borderline is self aware and wants to get better, they’re still put in the “evil” box along with the malignants, psychopaths and sociopaths. It’s always assumed they “have an agenda” or are “full of shit” and everything they say is a lie. I wondered why hearing people say this used to bother me; now I know why. It hurt my feelings because inside, I already knew I was one. I’m self-identified now and really, really want to change and every word I say on my blogs is my reality and truth. It’s my true self speaking, always. I think.

Cluster B’s are cut no slack by some ACONs. We are told we deserve no sympathy even though we were abused too and were victims too. This is extremely damaging to those of us who want to be rid of our Cluster B disorders.

The Cluster B stigma also makes it hard for those of us who want treatment to find it. Many therapists won’t get near someone with NPD or BPD with a 100 foot pole. I remember one therapist I had an intake session with, who I felt comfortable with, but said he’d need to order my psychiatric records before we could go any further.
A few days later he called me and said, “I’m sorry but I don’t treat Borderlines.”
Even if a therapists is willing to see someone with a Cluster B disorder, most insurance companies or government-funded health insurance like Medicaid or Medicare won’t pay a claim for a “Cluster B diagnosis” because it’s assumed they’re incurable. So we are given some other diagnosis instead and treated for THAT disorder (such as depression or anxiety) which doesn’t get to the root of our real problem but only treats symptoms.

victim_badge

People who judge and demonize all narcissists are doing exactly what NPDs and BPDs are so well known for-–engaging in black and white thinking. They don’t believe or realize that narcissism is a spectrum disorder and those in the bottom half of the spectrum probably aren’t evil, even if they’re usually PITAs.

I know there will be some of you who will disagree. That’s fine and we can agree to disagree. I’ll hold to my belief that narcissism is a spectrum disorder with many shades of gray ranging all the way to black (evil).

So what is evil? Evil to me means a person who wants to bring harm to others and has no remorse over what they do and doesn’t care about the suffering they cause–and even enjoys it. It’s a person who goes out of their way to hurt others. It’s a person who tries to destroy the reality or the soul of another human being. It’s a person who never feels guilt or shame over their actions and has no empathy for the pain they cause. All evil people (as far as I know) are of the Cluster B persuasion and most are narcissists (or ASPDs), but not every narcissist or borderline is evil.

To really get a handle on what evil is, Dr. M. Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie” is the best analysis out there. Most of the stories in his book describe people who would today be called malignant narcissists (high spectrum narcissists with antisocial traits).

When does a narcissist cross the point of no return?

no_going_back

This question came up on the forums I’ve been active on. I think this question has fascinating implications but may never be answered with any degree of certainty.

Where the point of no return (the point at which a narc cannot be healed) exists on the narcissistic spectrum isn’t a question we will probably ever know. However, I have a couple of theories that ping ponged around inside my head.

1. Level of sadism/paranoia. (these traits were suggested by another forum member)
I think the ratio of ASPD traits to NPD traits would come into play–and most ASPDs are at least somewhat sadistic. I don’t know what the percentage of ASPD traits would have to be (and maybe it would vary in individuals anyway) but obviously a narcissist with a lot of ASPD is going to be more sadistic, and therefore more malignant/psychopathic, and that’s the point where no self awareness is possible–when a narc becomes malignant or psychopathic. Paranoia would come into play too, as I think paranoia rises with sadism. The more malignant the narcissist, the more paranoid (and sadistic) they will be.
For more, please see my article about The Dark Triad.

2. Soul-murder/cognitive dissonance.
My second theory about the point of no return is going to sound a little strange. I don’t believe the world is just the physical world we see. I’m not especially religious and don’t interpret biblical events literally but I am Christian (Catholic) and believe with no doubt that evil exists. Whether there’s an actual entity called Satan is not something I can answer. But I think there are evil entities, or energies, and I think M. Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie” explains all this brilliantly (and was the first book to explain malignant narcissism even though it wasn’t called that in 1983). It was also the book that helped me identify my mother and my ex as MNs.

Anyway, I think it’s possible for a person (a victim of abuse) to be infected with the evil of another person. If it goes on long enough, the victims’ “narcissism fleas” (N traits picked up from their narcissists) can become cancerous and turn into full blown narcissism. If the victim was especially abused or sensitive (or was both scapegoat and golden child) they may be more covert but are still N.
I think choice also has to do with it. If one sides with their abusers all the time, or colludes with them in antisocial acts, I think something in the person’s soul can turn dark.

npd_spectrum

Once this darkness sets in, a person who was low-mid spectrum moves higher on the spectrum into malignant narcissism and can’t go back to being the way they were. That’s the point of no return. This has happened in wartime, with soldiers forced to do things that go against their morals like killing innocents, or accidentally killing a fellow soldier in combat — when these veterans return they suffer severe PTSD but for some, who were forced to commit deeds that went against their conscience and morals, they crossed a line into evil.

I think the mechanics of what happens is that when one makes a choice or is forced to do something that goes against their morals, there’s so much cognitive dissonance that a split in the mind occurs, where the person, feeling so guilty over their deed that it’s unbearable, takes the side of evil, to correct the dissonance.

I think all PD’s may actually be complex PTSD (c-PTSD) that is more deeply embedded in the personality.

As far as narcisissts lower on the spectrum (low-through mid spectrum)–and I absolutely believe it’s a spectrum disorder like autism–a non-malignant/non ASPD narcissist isn’t evil and hasn’t crossed the point of no return. It won’t be easy to get that “skeleton transplant” (and will be extremely painful!) but it can be done.

I hope my BPD wall of words made sense (someone told me that all BPD’s write posts that are as long as books with a lot of run on sentences, LOL!)

The 4 types of narcissistic abuse victims.

abuse_boy

It’s become clear to me that not all ACONs and abuse survivors are on the same page when it comes to their attitudes toward narcissists.
Because we all are abuse survivors you would think there’d be more solidarity among us, but this is not necessarily the case.

It seems there are four distinct types. In spite of things I may have alluded to in the past, I don’t think any one group is worse or better than any other. They are different, and each has their reasons for having the attitudes they do. I’ll explain why I think the attitudes are different among the four groups. There is definitely a pattern I’ve noticed.

1. The Narc-Hating Group.

female_warrior

These ACONs usually underwent the worst abuse as children, or had two narcissistic parents instead of just one. Having abusive parents seems to instill the greatest anger in victims–more so than having been with an abusive spouse–and this anger isn’t easily let go of. This group has a warrior mentality: to them, ALL narcissists are evil, bad seeds, or demonic, and have no hope whatsoever of recovery or healing. They may acknowledge a continuum or spectrum among narcissists, but it’s not important to them. A narc is a narc is a narc, and they are all considered impervious to change and anything they do is suspect. Some ACONs of this type are ultra-religious and believe all narcissists are seared souls destined for hell.

2. All Cluster Bs are the Same Group.

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This group goes a step beyond the first one, in that they believe anyone with a Cluster B disorder–Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, or Antisocial–is character disordered and manipulative, and therefore all pretty much the same and to be avoided like the plague. They do not make exceptions even for Borderlines–the least “malignant” of the four disorders. People who subscribe to this view were as damaged by their malignant narcissistic parents as the first group. One of their parents may have been Borderline or Histrionic, rather than narcissistic– but people with those disorders don’t always make very good parents either. It’s unfortunately all too common for narcissists to collude with Borderlines in the abuse of the child, with the Borderline in the more codependent, subservient role.

3. Not all Narcs are Hopeless Group.

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This group may be in the minority among ACONs (at least among bloggers), but it’s the group I’m evidently in–which has raised the ire of some of the Narc-Hating ACONs. People in this group aren’t going around singing the praises of narcissists and in fact the vast majority strongly encourage No Contact (just as the other two groups do). They do not tolerate or enable narcissistic manipulations and abuse, but they hold that because narcissism may be a spectrum disorder, that those at the lower end of the spectrum (non-malignants) may be redeemable under the proper circumstances and with the proper treatment. They may show more sympathy or empathy for people with narcissism than the first two groups, but they aren’t enablers either. Most do not believe malignant narcissists and psychopaths/sociopaths are redeemable, however.

Many people in this group were part of the Narc-Hating group when they were trying to disengage or go No Contact with their abusers. They used their anger to give them the courage and motivation to disconnect and stay disconnected. But because their hatred and anger toward narcissists isn’t as deeply ingrained as in the first two groups (I’ll explain why in the next paragraph), people in this group eventually can no longer hold onto their anger and prefer to try to understand the motives of those who abused them, while at the same time remaining disconnected from their abusers and not enabling narcissistic behavior. Their desire to let go of anger is very difficult for ACONs of the first two groups to understand, and people of the third group may be seen as betraying the ACON cause, even though this isn’t really the case at all. They’re just handling things differently.

Another reason a person may hold that some narcissists are redeemable is they may have a narcissistic child, and it’s an extremely difficult thing for a parent to accept that their own child may be beyond hope.

It’s been my observation that people in this group may have suffered less severe abuse as children, or had only one narcissistic parent instead of two. One of the parents (usually a codependent spouse) may have actually loved their child, and this love tempered the abuse inflicted on them by the narcissistic parent even if they were forced to collude with the abuse at times. Some people in this group may have even had normal childhoods with non-narcissistic parents, but got involved in relationships or marriages to narcissists (which technically means they are not ACONs at all). It’s been my observation that people who suffered most of their abuse at the hands of a narcissistic spouse or lover rather than a parent never developed the deep hatred toward all narcissists that the first two groups tend to do.

4. Codependents.

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Codependents are often (but not always) personality disordered in some way, and many of them are Borderlines or covert narcissists. They are usually victimized by their narcissists, but also identify with and collude with their abusers. Most codependents were abused by narcissistic parents, and are drawn to narcissistic relationships where they are compelled to re-enact their abusive childhoods. This is the group that may never acknowledge they are being abused or reach out for help. They continue to defend and enable their abusers and may believe they are the ones at fault for anything that goes wrong. If a Codependent leaves their narcissist and realizes they were actually being abused, then they are no longer Codependent and join one of the first three categories.