10 Signs You’re Dealing With A Malignant Narcissist

10 Signs You’re Dealing With A Malignant Narcissist

Dealing with a malignant narcissist is like being in a psychological minefield. These individuals aren’t just full of themselves; they’re a whole different level of self-absorbed, often leaving a trail of emotional chaos behind them. It’s essential to recognize the signs of a malignant narcissist, not just for your mental sanity but for your emotional well-being.

1. They believe they’re better than pretty much everyone else.

Malignant narcissists operate with an inflated sense of self-importance. They’re convinced of their superiority and often overstate their accomplishments. It’s not just about having confidence; it’s an oversized ego that demands constant attention. They’re ensnared in a world of their grandiosity, expecting people to always recognize their alleged superiority. Their exaggerated self-perception is often disconnected from reality, manifesting in arrogant behavior and a disdain for people they consider inferior.

2. They’re Masters of Manipulation.

Dealing with a malignant narcissist means constantly being manipulated. They use people for personal gain, disregarding anyone else’s feelings or interests. Their charm can be deceitful, luring you into a false sense of trust and security. It’s like being a pawn in their self-centered game, where they always play to win, regardless of the cost to everyone else. Their tactics can range from subtle manipulation to outright exploitation, all serving their self-interest.

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4. They suffer from emotional blindness.

A tell-tale sign of a malignant narcissist is their apparent emotional blindness. They seem incapable of understanding or sharing people’s feelings, making them seem cold and uncaring. It’s not that they’re unaware of emotions; they’re just primarily focused on their own. Their lack of empathy is striking and often apparent in situations requiring compassion and understanding. They’re typically unconcerned with the emotional damage they inflict on other people, as long as their needs are met.

5. They’re often consumed by envy.

Malignant narcissists often live in a state of perpetual envy and believe people are equally jealous of them. This toxic combination of insecurity and arrogance makes it difficult for them to see people succeed or be the center of attention. Their envy is like a shadow that follows them, constantly comparing themselves to other people and feeling resentful when they achieve or possess something they desire.

6. They have a deep-rooted Sense of Entitlement.

Malignant narcissists have an ingrained sense of entitlement. They believe they deserve special treatment and demand compliance with their expectations. This entitlement goes beyond mere self-centeredness; it’s a deep-rooted belief that they are fundamentally above everyone, deserving of privileges and indulgences that are denied to other people. They often react with rage or contempt when they feel they’re not receiving the special treatment they believe they’re entitled to.

7. They’re Prone to Explosive Anger.

Their threshold for anger is often alarmingly low. Malignant narcissists can quickly become enraged or aggressive if they feel slighted, criticized, or not given what they believe they deserve. This isn’t just typical irritation; it’s often disproportionate and intense. Their anger serves as a weapon to control and intimidate those around them, further asserting their perceived dominance.

8. They Derive Pleasure from Other people’s Downfall (Schadenfreude!).

One of the more disturbing traits of malignant narcissists is their tendency to enjoy belittling and degrading people. They often find satisfaction in mocking or humiliating people, asserting their dominance through such toxic behavior. This isn’t just harmless teasing; it’s a calculated effort to diminish and control. It’s particularly damaging because it can be subtle, gradually eroding your self-esteem and sense of worth.

9. They lack accountability.

Malignant narcissists are notorious for their inability to take responsibility for their actions. They will lie, distort facts, and manipulate situations to avoid blame. They’re experts at gaslighting, making you question your reality and perceptions. The idea of being at fault is inconceivable to them, leading to a complete denial of any wrongdoing, no matter how evident.

10. They Thrive on Creating Chaos.

Malignant narcissists often create and thrive in chaotic environments. They seem to have a knack for stirring up trouble and setting people against each other. This isn’t just about loving drama; it’s a strategic move to keep people off balance and themselves in control. They might spread rumors, pit people against each other, or create situations that cause conflict. It’s a way of diverting attention from their shortcomings and maintaining a position of power. This constant need for turmoil can be exhausting for those around them, as there’s rarely a moment of peace or stability.

11. They Use Intimidation as a Tool.

Intimidation is a favorite tool in the malignant narcissist’s arsenal. They use fear to control and dominate people, often resorting to bullying tactics. This can manifest in various ways, from subtle threats to outright aggressive behavior. It’s not just about physical intimidation; it can also be psychological, such as threatening someone’s job security or personal relationships. This behavior is designed to make people feel powerless and dependent, ensuring the narcissist’s position of authority and control. Living under this constant threat can be incredibly stressful and can take a significant toll on your mental and emotional well-being.

Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.