Here’s How To Spot And Survive A “Malignant Narcissist”

To live with the malignant narcissist is to live in a place more dangerous than hell.

Malignant narcissists are malignant because, by nature, they are mean, sadistic, and evil-intentioned people.

Some of them are purely diabolical and unsafe to be with. Sometimes, even looking back at them can set them off to unleash their narcissistic rage at you.

Worse, many of them hide their malignant nature until they have trapped you too deeply. Annie Hartwell, a malignant narcissist survivor, says,

“The humiliation is extreme. They want to ruin you and all too often they succeed.”

To survive a malignant narcissist, you must first learn how to spot them. And, if you’re already in their web, learn how to protect yourself and deal with them fast.


Signs of A Malignant Narcissist

While there are mainly six types of narcissists, the most dangerous and harmful of them is the malignant narcissist.

Malignant narcissists have almost zero empathy for others, a terrifying drive to wield power and control over people around them, and an unpredictably erupting rage. They always carry an extreme sense of self-importance, to the point of being blind to other people’s tears and pain.

These narcissists are a toxic mix of narcissism, aggression, sadism, and antisocial personality disorder (psychopathy).

Here are some signs of malignant narcissists to look out for:

1. Extreme Self-Entitlement

Malignant narcissists believe they are superior to others and entitled to only special treatment.

Even if they don’t show it, as some covert malignant narcissists do, their “superiority complex” is sky-high. This extreme sense of entitlement makes them highly arrogant and full of hubris.

They are quick to anger whenever they feel they have been belittled, insulted, or criticized.

Worst of all, their inflated self-entitlement always goes to deflate other people’s self-esteem.

2. Severe Lack of Empathy

Malignant narcissists have a complete disregard for the feelings and emotions of others.

These people are just incapable of feeling the harm their actions and words have on those around them.

They just don’t have the brain wiring to empathize with the feelings and perspectives of others.

Rather, they want to control your feelings. So, if you tell them how you’re feeling, they’ll tell you why you should ‘not’ feel those emotions.

If you’re happy, they may want you to be sad, and if you’re sad, they may ask you to be happy.

3. A Very Sadistic Nature

Malignant narcissists derive pleasure from causing pain and suffering to others. They may engage in bullying, abuse, and other forms of aggressive behavior.

They may use and manipulate those around them to meet their own needs, without any consideration for the consequences.

They can be quite dangerous to pets.

They fully realize that humans are the most dangerous species on this earth. So they hurt animals to establish this superiority.

They often have a history of volatile or abusive relationships.

4. Paranoid Tendencies

Malignant narcissists often have delusions that others are plotting against them and trying to persecute them.

They have a general mistrust of people, feel threatened by practically everyone, and often attack others under false charges.

These people are generally hypervigilant and may view even those closest to them as suspicious.

Their paranoid streak can make them explode with anger and violence when they feel their authority is under threat.

5. Highly Manipulative Behavior

They are masters at manipulating others to get what they want.

Malignant narcissists will use you whenever they can. Your relationship with them is largely one of you serving their whims.

They may use flattery, guilt-tripping, love-bombing and seduction, hysteric meltdowns, and other tactics to achieve what they want.

How To Quickly Deal With A Malignant Narcissist

Dealing with a malignant narcissist can be one of the most harrowing experiences of your life.

If you feel you have become entangled with a malignant narcissist, don’t delay taking protective measures since your life may be at risk.

Here are some effective ways to deal with malignant narcissists:

1. Spot Them Early On And Avoid Them

Malignant narcissism is a complex and dangerous personality disorder. So, the first rule of dealing with a malignant narcissist is to always avoid them to the best of your ability.

They are fully capable of, and will often provoke or troll vulnerable people into committing suicide.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that when they have tortured you enough, they will feel sorry and change for the better. They won’t.

They will rather change for the worse because:

  • First, they lack emotional empathy, so they cannot understand your pain.
  • Second, your submissive behavior teaches them that they can now get away scot-free after torturing you again.

They are so dangerous that if you tell them you want to leave them, they can hurt you for it. They interpret your desire to abandon them as a grave insult to their person and worth.

2. Set Strict Relationship Boundaries

This is the second mandatory rule for dealing with a malignant narcissist:

Set the six necessary boundaries with them.

Clearly tell them what you need and expect from them.

Tell them what you will do if they violate your boundaries.

It may be risky to tell them how you feel or what they will face when they breach your rules.

  • First, they may learn your trigger points and use them to trigger you whenever they want.
  • Second, challenging them with consequences may provoke their narcissistic rage.

Just tell them what you’ll do if they cross your line.

Don’t give them access to your personal things, time, or space. Learn to say No to their unfair and needless requests.

Train them to get used to your No by refusing them most of the time, even when they ask.

If they violate your boundaries, make it a prominent issue and enforce consequences each time.

Do not let them take advantage of your kindness and gentleness. Be firm and courageous, and do not hesitate to walk away if necessary.

3. Go No-Contact With Them

Block their access to you.

Remove yourself to a safe distance if their physical presence is straining your nerves.

Go no contact with them if you find them repeatedly stressing you, maligning you, or trying to use you.

Don’t allow them extra space in your mental world. They know how to make you miserable even when they are not around.

You may find yourself overthinking (ruminating) as you try to rid yourself of the small guilts they instilled in you. You may try to overanalyze what they pointed out as your “mistakes” in their absence.

Try to limit your contact with them as much as possible. This will help curb their ability to manipulate and control you.

4. Build & Seek Social Support

Do not let them cut you off from your social circles. Create and maintain connections that do not include the malignant narcissist.

Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Having a supportive network can help you to cope with the stress and emotional turmoil that comes with dealing with a malignant narcissist.

5. Practice self-care

When a malignant narcissist sets out to harm you, they will keep harming you long after you have left them. Your memories of their hurts go deep and long.

To let yourself heal, practice self-care.

Make time for activities that bring you joy and peace, and engage in activities that help you to feel empowered and in control.

6. Seek Professional Help

Dealing with a malignant narcissist can be extremely stressful, as they can shut down your ability to think and decide.

If you’re a victim, reach out to a mental health professional experienced in NPD about your situation.

Above all, do not try to heal them. They can attack you for trying to change them.

Malignant narcissists can even manipulate and trash their therapists.

Causes of Malignant Narcissism

The exact causes of malignant narcissism are not well understood, but there are a number of factors that may contribute to its development.

1. Social And Cultural Factors

Social and cultural norms and values may play a crucial role in the development of malignant narcissism.

A cultural background that values power and success may lead people to develop an excessive sense of self-importance and a desire for admiration and attention.

Some of them may have had a powerful family where they could force others to kowtow to their wishes and make them value the narcissist’s feelings over their own needs and pains.

2. Childhood Experiences

The child may grow up in an enabling environment, where they are forced to earn their own upkeep the hard way and learn to make others fulfill their desires.

There’s an anecdote about a teacher who, unable to punish the prince for his mistakes, punishes his other pupils. The prince realizes this and blunders on purpose to make others suffer even more. You already know where this story is going and what will become of that prince as he grows up.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), such as extreme neglect, abuse, or trauma, can also contribute to the development of malignant narcissism.

Think of the other pupils in the anecdote above.

These abused children may grow up learning that the only way to get others to respect them is to forcibly make them, hurting them if necessary.

Over the years, they may develop a malignant sense of entitlement and self-importance.

However, childhood abuse and trauma do not justify malignant narcissistic behavior. They became malignant because they chose to.

3. Genetics

There may be a genetic component to malignant narcissism.

Literature on narcissism suggests it may run in families, and many narcissists have a narcissistic parent.

Researchers Livesley & Jang found that heritability for narcissism could be as high as 64%. Interestingly, they also found that submissiveness and attachment problems had low heritability.

However, no study confirms that narcissists inherited their narcissism in their genes rather than as a learned behavior.

What Is The Treatment of Malignant Narcissism?

Some of the treatments for malignant narcissism include:

1. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy, can help individuals with malignant narcissism identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors.

However, therapy does not help malignant narcissists become normal, good people. For these people, the goal of therapy is to teach them not to hurt others and to treat others with kindness.

2. Medications

While there is no specific medication for treating malignant narcissism, certain medications, like antipsychotics, may be used to help control the malignant symptoms, like aggression and impulsivity.

Medications may also be prescribed for co-occurring disorders such as anxiety disorder or depression.

3. Education and Awareness

The grandiose nature and “superiority complex” of malignant narcissists make it difficult for them to reach out for help.

Education and awareness about malignant narcissism can help individuals with the disorder understand the impact their behavior has on others and encourage them to seek treatment.

Awareness can also help family and friends understand the complexities of the disorder and how to support them and get them into therapy.


What is the malignant narcissistic stare?

Malignant narcissists often give others a cold, hard, long stare to make the other person nervous and tense without flinching. They seem to enjoy this ability of theirs to make others feel uneasy, as it gives them a sense of control. Studies suggest that on average, people have a preferred gaze duration of 3.3 seconds. Any more than that can be considered staring.

Are malignant narcissists evil?

Malignant narcissists, in my opinion, are the personification of evil. They are the polar opposite of all that is good and valued among humans. They are unreformable bullies, filled with contempt and callousness, who believe in snatching everything they want while mocking others for being weak. They are rabidly antagonistic, coldly cruel, unrepentant villains of society.

Three infamous malignant narcissists:

  1. Ted Bundy
  2. Caligula
  3. Vlad III

Final Words

Malignant narcissism is a severe form of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) that is often resistant to treatment.

Even with good therapy, their disorder doesn’t go away. They barely learn how to curb their destructive behavior.

They must be monitored on a regular basis to avoid their triggers from flaring up.

Prioritize your own peace instead of trying to fix them. Take action to heal yourself, thrive, and live a meaningful life.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).

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