October 03, 2009

A new category on my blog: Need-To-Knows

A green-neck duck with a seville orange, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin

I would like to create a category on my blog, geared towards a basic understanding of pathological narcissism. A new link for Need-To-Knows will be located on the right side of my blog and hopefully, some of my articles will capture the basics of a disorder most people have never heard of: malignant narcissism.

If people have heard of 'narcissism', they assume narcissists are vain---self-worshipers spending far too much time in front of a mirror; that anyone in the public eye or a leadership role is a narcissist; and that narcissism is benign self-centeredness---annoying at worst and laughable at best. In fact, it astonishes me how frequently people boast about being narcissists. Some people seem to believe that narcissism means they are self-confident and assertive. That being a narcissist is worthy goal. It's cool!

Narcissism is a psychological disorder that is being minimized by pop-culture and even while the term is becoming more common in daily parlance, it is also becoming 'meaningless.' A Fluff word. A Puff word. A word disguising the significant damage narcissists do to other people. Here's a short list of how Not Cool narcissists are: 

Narcissists have a distorted self-image. Narcissists are incapable of emotional maturation, caring for others in a safe and trustworthy bond of love, and they lack the capacity to cope with life's stresses without blaming others. They do not forgive, do not trust, do not grow old gracefully. There is nothing funny or praiseworthy about being a narcissist. Anyone with personal experience dealing with a narcissist, would be loath to consider 'narcissism' to be nothing more than benign hubris.

Note To The Wise

Unless we understand the detrimental impact narcissistic relationships have on our spiritual and emotional well-being, we'll be like green-necked sitting ducks for those Machiavellian narcissists in camouflage.

The fact is: You cannot change the narcissist or cure him-or-her with your love. You will change. The narcissist won't.

You cannot spot narcissists from afar. You cannot avoid interfacing with narcissists. Though estimates of people with NPD are fairly low, a large per centage of our population has narcissistic traits or patterns. According to Dr. Nina Brown, even two or three narcissistic traits can harm other people and destroy a relationship.

We live in an increasingly narcissistic culture which means each one of us is impacted by social influences. What can we do about that? How can we protect ourselves from narcissists? As a society, how can we stop ourselves from normalizing narcissistic behaviors?

What we can do is learn about pathological narcissism and become familiar with our reactions to people with narcissistic traits and/or a personality disorder.

If you do not want to be a lame duck, the only way to avoid being target practice for duck-hunters, is to educate yourself about pathological narcissism.



Brown, Nina. Destructive Narcissistic Patterns.


  1. I totally agree. I've heard the word narcissist used so much recently, yet it's always in reference to someone who's self-involved or in the public eye. Most people don't have a clue that narcissism is on a continuum, which culminates with malignant narcissism.

    I can't stand it when people dismiss people they don't know as "narcissists." That's why I wrote "Barack Obama is a Narcissist and Other Urban Legends."

    Unless you've been up close, you haven't seen the malignant narcissist drop the mask. That's when things get scary. Thanks for you ongoing effort to enlighten the public

  2. Please feel free to correct add an "r" to the you. I'm tied, I mean tired. What a difference a letter makes!

  3. Hi anonymous!

    I'm assuming you're Jan from Planetjan? I haven't been around much lately and somehow missed your article about "Obama and Other Urban Legends".

    Here's a direct link:


    p.s. Blogger won't let me edit people's comments. I tied.

    p.p.s. Imaginative spelling is much appreciated. You even get an A+ for you creativity and humor!



  4. "The fact is: You cannot change the narcissist or cure him-or-her with your love. You will change. The narcissist won't."

    Wow, doesn't that just say it all. I went from a bright eyed woman, new in love, to a zombie who didn't recognize herself in the mirror.

  5. You know the old cliché: "What you don't know can't hurt you?"

    Narcissists who insist their lies are compassionate maneuvers to protect other people from pain and suffering, must have coined that phrase.

    This blog exists as testament to the fact that "What you don't know CAN hurt you."

    Ignorance is not bliss unless we’re speaking about narcissistic defenses. Ego defenses allow the narcissist to feel ‘good about him-or-herself’ because they are blissfully free of accountability, remorse, and personal responsibility for harming others.

    As long as the narcissist remains ignorant about his-or-her destructive impact on so-called beloveds, "What the narcissist doesn’t know, doesn’t hurt ‘em.”

    For their victims though, we lose faith in our ability to create a healthy relationship. We lose self-trust, self-confidence, and everything we believed about ourselves comes into question. Even reality.

    We must find a way to educate people about the damage they will suffer if they do not recognize narcissism as a destructive element in any relationship.

    People might assume they were in denial but in my way of thinking, you can only deny what you know to be true. If you don’t know about psychological pathology, “What you don’t know CAN and DOES hurt you.”


  6. Aaarghhh, the frustration about people not getting the true meaning of malignant pathological narcissism!!!

    I would like to quote (once again) Kathy Krajco on this topic.

    Don't confuse NPD (malignant narcissism) to what people usually mean when they say someone is "narcissistic". Despite the superficial similarities there's a world of difference.

    Some narcissists are breathtakingly arrogant, conceited, boastful, presumptious and full of hubris, but I wouldn’t list this as a red flag of NPD.

    In fact, I’ve known a pathological narcissist who would strike you as anything but grandiose, vain and haughty. He kept his immodesty well hidden beneath a cloak of false modesty. A true malignant narcissist is a wolf in sheep’s clothes, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The overt grandiosity of the Mr. Hyde part of their personality only comes out behind closed doors. Usually in the form of narcissistic rage.

    And once you've seen that, you know that they're not JUST self-absorbed.

    A mere (non-malignant) narcissist is someone with a big head. Fame and fortune have probably gone to his head. So he may be arrogant and haughty, but doesn't go around tearing people off pedestals by slandering and calumniating others to make himself look better than them. Or by raping them for being purer than him. A mere narcissist may be obnoxious and dissapointing, but he is not a PREDATOR hostile to the happiness and well-being of others. Hurting people doesn't make him feel good. He has human feelings and can form human relationships. He loves his own children at least and wouldn't dream of hurting them.

    A malignant narcissist is a far different animal.

  7. "Some narcissists are breathtakingly arrogant, conceited, boastful, presumptious and full of hubris, but I wouldn’t list this as a red flag of NPD." ~Kathy Krajko

    Hi Liselotte!

    Though I tend to write about narcissism in a narrative manner (ya think?!! ha!), I shall discipline myself to writing about narcissism with a more direct approach. I hesitate doing that because i am not a psychologist and resist misinterpreting psychological theory or misrepresenting myself as anyone other than an everyday citizen who struggles to survive the hideous destruction of narcissistic influences.

    My experience with narcissism spans the continuum from social narcissism to clinical narcissism and yes, there is a vast difference between the malignant narcissist and someone who might even be defined as having a NPD. (though even clinicians differ in their interpretations of DSM-IV criteria).

    Kathy Krajko was always very clear about the malicious nature of the malignant narcissist (Kathy is deeply missed by many who came to rely on her insight and brilliant writing...); though my sense is that even an OVERT narcissist is destructive to other people.

    To me, there is no such thing as 'benign' narcissism.

    Anyone who does not work towards ameliorating unhealthy narcissism IS destructive to other people. I believe this to be true.

    Predatory narcissists leave a trail of victims. People they harm through financial, emotional, spiritual, physical abuse and manipulation. The abuse and destruction of other people is obvious and undeniable.

    But unhealthy narcissism impacts others in surreptitious, covert and destructive ways, too. There may not be an obvious body count but the damage done to people's sense of trust, esteem, self-worth, etc. is often overlooked. Especially by the 'victim' who may not ever realize they were victimized.


  8. Hi CZ!

    Thanks for a great comment and you're absolutely right.. when I think of it now; an overt arrogant narcissist could be just as damaging - especially to his children - as the covert one.

    My point is; at least with the haughty, arrogant assh*** you know where you're at. What you see is what you get! You quickly become bored and laugh at his stupid show offs, you simply walk away at some point (and no, children in this case do not have a choice if it's their father, unfortunately).

    I think what Kathy means to point out is the malicious, hostile and WELL HIDDEN intent to hurt others and derive pleasure from it. That's the malignant almost psychopathic part of this personality disorder.

    The manipulative mind-games.. the subtle put-downs.. the uncontrollable urge to chip away at anybody's self-esteem.. to be in control.. and all that to feel good about himself.

  9. "I think what Kathy means to point out is the malicious, hostile and WELL HIDDEN intent to hurt others and derive pleasure from it. That's the malignant almost psychopathic part of this personality disorder." ~Liselotte

    Absolutely! The Overt Narcissist is easier to spot (which at least gives us a hint of their narcissism), though I think we underestimate their negative impact on people. Even beneath their pompous arrogance is the perception of superiority to others AND the ABILITY to maintain their grandiose status by harming others.

    We're just fooling ourselves if we think that the overt narcissist's obvious arrogance isn't affecting us (or our kids).

    For one thing, I wonder if exposure to Overt Narcissists might lead to choosing the opposite partner in the future...the one that appears to be kinda shy, kinda humble, kinda nice in a slightly mean sort of way.

    What Krajko reinforced for people is that narcissists are NOT insecure little people inside who need unconditional love so they feel safe enough to be nice.

    Narcissists are aggressive brutes who stoop to whatever means necessary in order to maintain superiority, control, and power. I think Krajko called this the 'teeter-totter' game: When the narcissist goes UP, you go DOWN.

    New research about old age narcissists influences my thinking today. We need to accept the fact that narcissism fluctuates and what is BAD at one point, can actually get WORSE. Just because a person displays overt signs of narcissism, it does not mean they will maintain a rather 'benign' state.

    Should life circumstances overwhelm their ego defenses, what might have been a pompous arrogant arse can become a dangerous threat to other people's welfare (and their lives).

    Steer clear of unhealthy narcissism at any point on the continuum...it is not a stable trait and even professional diagnosis is subject to error.


    1. And as you state in other articles here CZ, narcissism and the traits can get worse with age. Yeah, best to steer clear.

      In addition I disagree with the statement, "What you see is what you get" even with the arrogant, obnoxious, the obvious, "it's all about me" sort.

      I know someone who I might have said that about...a guy I knew only as a friend (thank God) who is exactly all those things. He never really listens to what anyone says and you can actually see in his face that he is just waiting for the person who is boring him with their trivial ramblings, to stfu, so he can get to his all important speech and brag about his accomplishments.

      Anyway, I thought (believed) he was pretty harmless. Annoying? Absolutely! Harmless? It never crossed my mind.

      He later met someone and married her. Later, I became friends with her too. At first just an acquaintance, but in recent years I've gotten to know her pretty well. And even more recently, we've become even better friends after she gave him the boot and it turns out he was VERY abusive verbally/emotionally and physically to both her and her son. He blames her all the way for everything and denies the physical abuse completely.

      So no. If they're showing signs of narcissism even in what seems a harmless way, don't be so sure that they are...harmless that is.

  10. Hi CZ,
    I wanted to let you know that I quoted you in a revision of a post I wrote in Nov,'09. The post, "Narcissists leave dirty wounds," has been read more than any of my posts. I don't know why but I felt I had to go back and clear up some of the content as it was misleading. I hope you don't mind that I used a couple of your quotes from this post.
    I'll try and give you a link, but you might see that already since I came here from the article.
    If I have used your quote in a way that you are not happy with, please let me know. And, if you have anything to add to it, since it is for some reason continuing to be read, I think any input you might offer would be helpful to the people who are reading it.
    Thank you.

  11. Haha! Jan from Planetjan here. I though it was funny that when Anonymous wanted their spelling corrected, you thought it could be me. I don’t do anything anonymously. I do hate to misspell words since I’m a teacher, but I found that proofreading and not writing comments while drinking wine cuts down on my mistakes. Today, I spelled “ornery” as “hornory.” YIKES! I was going to write a post in the same vein. I’ve been reading about how Facebook as turned an entire generation in narcissists. It’s like the term has been hijacked as an explanation for any excess in Hollywood/Wall Street. Sorry, I’ve been AWOL. After my knee surgery, I returned to school. Then over Memorial Day weekend we went to Yosemite and I brilliantly stepped into a hole and twisted my other knee. My husband is threatening to make me wear snowshoes at all times. As usual, my first, more articulate comment got lost when I tried to publish it. What is it with me and trying to post comments on your blog. I believe your blog is gaslighting me! >wink< Always, Jan


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