Are Malignant Narcissists Dangerous?

When we hear the term “malignant narcissist,” it might sound like a complex psychological jargon, but in simple terms, it refers to someone who’s a bit more than just self-centered. In this blog post, we’ll break down what a malignant narcissist is, debunk some stereotypes, delve into what they might say, learn ways to deal with them, and touch upon possible treatment methods.

What is a Malignant Narcissist?

A malignant narcissist is basically someone who takes selfishness to a whole new level. They’re not just into themselves; they’re also manipulative, lack empathy, and can be downright toxic in their relationships. Picture a person who believes the world revolves around them, and they’d do anything to make sure it stays that way.

What Does the Research Say?

In this study by Mila Goldner-Vukov, researchers took a deep dive into the world of Malignant Narcissism, a serious condition often overlooked in the world of mental health. They felt it was time to shine a light on this issue and provide mental health professionals with insights into its biopsychosocial dynamics and treatment recommendations.

The researchers began by digging into existing literature on Malignant Narcissism, only to find that it was quite sparse. The concept was first introduced by Otto Kernberg in 1984, and since then, there hasn’t been much added to the discussion. 

Interestingly, the study uncovered that elements of Malignant Narcissism were present in fairy tales long before psychiatry recognized it. To make the subject more relatable, think of it like a character in a fairy tale who displays extreme self-centeredness and harmful behavior.

Malignant Narcissism, as described in the study, is a mix of core Narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial behavior, ego-syntonic sadism, and a paranoid orientation. The lack of a specific structured interview or self-report measure makes it challenging for researchers, clinicians, and individuals themselves to identify Malignant Narcissism. This gap in tools hampers both research and effective treatment.

The study emphasizes that Malignant Narcissism is not just a personal struggle; it has severe consequences for families and society as a whole. The researchers stress the importance of recognizing and addressing this disorder within the field of psychiatry and the broader social science community.

To tackle Malignant Narcissism, the study suggests a treatment approach within a therapeutic community and a prevention program focused on psychoeducation. This means not only educating mental health professionals but also spreading awareness and understanding within the wider social community. The goal is to create an environment where people can identify and address Malignant Narcissism early on, preventing its harmful effects on individuals and society.

Stereotype of a Malignant Narcissist

Contrary to the Hollywood image of a villainous mastermind, a malignant narcissist might not always look like the bad guy. In fact, they often wear a mask of charm and charisma, making it tricky to spot them initially. These folks can be your friends, family members, or even colleagues. It’s like they have a talent for hiding their true colors behind a friendly facade.

Things They Say

Understanding a malignant narcissist involves paying attention to the words they use. Here are some phrases that might give you a clue:

It’s Always About Me: Malignant narcissists have a habit of making every conversation about themselves. No matter the topic, they find a way to shift the focus back to them.

I’m the Best: They have an inflated sense of self-importance. You might hear them bragging about their achievements, exaggerating their talents, and putting others down.

No Empathy Here: Unlike your friend who lends a listening ear, a malignant narcissist often lacks empathy. They might not understand or care about your feelings, and you’ll notice a dismissive attitude when you share your thoughts or concerns.

Manipulative Maneuvers: Malignant narcissists are experts at manipulation. They use guilt, fear, and other tactics to control those around them. It’s like they have a playbook for getting what they want.

Never Admitting Fault: One glaring sign is their inability to admit when they’re wrong. It’s always someone else’s fault or the result of a conspiracy against them.

How to Deal with Them

Dealing with a malignant narcissist can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are some practical tips:

Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries and stick to them. Malignant narcissists often test limits, so it’s crucial to be firm about what you find acceptable and what crosses the line.

Stay Calm: These individuals might try to provoke a reaction from you. Stay calm and composed. Responding with anger or frustration can fuel their manipulative tactics.

Limit Exposure: If possible, limit your time with a malignant narcissist. Spending too much time around them can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. Choose quality over quantity in your interactions.

Seek Support: Share your experiences with trusted friends, family, or a therapist. Having a support system can provide validation and help you navigate the challenges of dealing with a malignant narcissist.

Practice Self-Care: Focus on self-care to maintain your mental and emotional health. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and prioritize your well-being.

Treatment Methods for Malignant Narcissists

Now, let’s briefly touch on the tricky topic of treating malignant narcissists. It’s important to note that therapy for these individuals can be a complex process, and success isn’t guaranteed. However, here are some approaches:

Therapy, Anyone?

Psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can be beneficial. These therapies aim to address the underlying issues contributing to the narcissistic behavior and help develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Group Therapy

Sometimes, group therapy can be effective. Being in a group setting allows narcissists to receive feedback from others, fostering a better understanding of how their behavior affects those around them.


In certain cases, medication might be prescribed to address co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. However, medication alone is unlikely to address the core narcissistic traits.

Educational Programs

Participating in educational programs that focus on empathy, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills can be beneficial. These programs aim to teach individuals healthier ways of interacting with others.

Motivation for Change

For therapy to be effective, the malignant narcissist must be motivated to change. Unfortunately, many individuals with narcissistic traits may not see an issue with their behavior, making it challenging to engage them in treatment.


In conclusion, understanding and dealing with malignant narcissists involves recognizing the signs, setting boundaries, and prioritizing your well-being. While treatment options exist, success can be elusive, as it heavily relies on the individual’s willingness to change. Remember, it’s okay to seek support and prioritize your mental and emotional health when faced with challenging relationships. Stay vigilant, stay strong, and surround yourself with those who uplift rather than drain.

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