Think about a healthy person you have known, someone you would describe as whole or together. Inevitably, that person has a calm confidence, inclines toward peace and coordination, feels significant and helps others feel the same, and maintains strong ethics. It is predictable, then, that those internal ingredients directly impact their external way of life. To the outer world they are known as reliable, trustworthy, understanding, and affirming.

In other words, good people are good because they have well-conceived qualities on the inside that define them.

Now compare that person to a malignant narcissist. On the outside, they incline toward disdain, destruction, and conflict. It is impossible for them to sustain caring relationships because they are consistently mean and invalidating toward others. Just like their “whole” counterparts, they, too, are defined by what is inside themselves. But unlike whole people, they carry much turmoil within.

If you have ongoing interactions with such a person, it is essential to know about their troubled interior so you can make protective adjustments to their problematic exterior behaviors. On the inside of malignant narcissists are primary tensions that have not been resolved.

For instance:

  • Malignant narcissists have no meaningful conception of love. They are unable to attach. This problem may be due to environmental influences, it can be “hard-wired” from birth, or perhaps it is a combination of the two. Nonetheless, they have determined that people exist to be used. Period. To them, kindness and nurturance are unsustainable qualities.
  • They have concluded that life is quite competitive. From early on, they learned to categorize people as either winners or losers. The spoils go to those who can dominate, while problems await those who are dominated. In the malignant narcissist’s mind is the notion that only the controllers survive.
  • That being the case, they crave the favored position. While they will not give affirmation, they see admiration as their birthright. Fearing irrelevance, they believe their importance will be sealed and solidified as others recognize them as unique and enlightened.
  • That understood, they are drawn toward themes of power and might. They have concluded that if they can put people into subordinate positions, they have succeeded. A good life, in the narcissist’s estimation, lies in direct proportion to one’s ability to make people bend toward them. Strength is derived from seeing others as weaker.
  • Malignant narcissists have concluded that the best way to avoid pain is to become an inflicter of pain in others. Building upon a grandiose narrative of self-importance, they derive a perverse satisfaction when they succeed in hurting others. It proves their importance. It proves they are a Somebody to be reckoned with.
  • Logic is dismissed as they gravitate toward a mindset that allows for only one person to declare what is right or wrong. Malignant narcissists draw pseudo-strength from issuing decrees, pronouncements, commands, edicts, and mandates. In their minds, others cannot be trusted, leaving oneself as the only person who should be consulted.

These inner tensions are what lie at the foundation of a malignant narcissist’s personality. These individuals have a dim view of people in general and as a means of thwarting the appearance of weakness, they need to see themselves as superior. It is all part of a grand compensation for hidden fears and insecurities, but that truth is completely lost on them. They give no credence to anyone beyond themselves and maybe a few sycophants.

Understanding this, it is predictable that their behaviors and treatments of others will follow suit.

For instance:

  • Malignant narcissists openly scorn tenderness or goodness, seeing it as a sign of weakness. They readily mock people who seek peace or accommodation.
  • They relate, instead, to others as either friend or foe. “You are either with me or against me.” They make little to no room for diversity, nor do they attempt to understand those who are simply different. Empathy is non-existent.
  • They are quite willing to humiliate those who do not agree with them or whose ideas seem contrarian. They are free with criticisms, insults, and condescending comments.
  • Malignant narcissists are known for their unwillingness to negotiate. They proudly believe in the exclusivity of their own ideas and opinions, so they will clearly indicate that your thoughts, needs, feelings, and interpretations mean nothing to them.
  • Malignant narcissists prefer to collect enablers. They insist that if anyone is going to have access to them, they must first prove their fealty to them. Malignant narcissists want their living partner to be one who caters to them. They wish to turn their children into “mini-me’s.” At work or in play, they prefer “yes” people.
  • In conflict, they can be brutal. Often, they will erupt with loud, abusive anger. They can be ruthless, holding grudges for a long time. They will display contempt through passive aggressive non-cooperation.

It is important for you to appreciate the meaning of the word “malignant.” In its classic sense, a malignance is potentially fatal. (Think of a malignant tumor as an illustration.) Malignant narcissism is a pattern of life that is doomed from the beginning. It is not appealing, nor is it to be excused or tolerated. It is a destroyer of the soul.

As you understand that a malignant narcissist is damaged from the inside out, you can find assurance that their ugly pronouncements about you are actually a reflection of their own inner turmoil. You need not carry the psychological burden they place upon you.

Practically speaking, though, you’ll need to have the least involvement with that person as possible. They are not treatable, and they will continue their destruction wherever they land. Become as separate as you can from the malignant narcissist.

Good, whole people are that way because they have a psychological interior that predisposes them to be good. In the same vein, malignant narcissists are the way they are because they carry rot on the inside, and that rot has infested their very soul.

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~Dr. Les Carter