The Difference Between Narcissism and Malignant Narcissism
There are two kinds of narcissists. Your garden variety narcissist and your malignant narcissist. It is unfortunate that they go by the same name, because they are as different as night and day.
But most people think that a malignant narcissist is just an extreme form of narcissist. Hence they get the idea that narcissism is a mental disease that exists in varying degrees of severity.
In fact, many go further and say that psychopathy is just one more gradation of severity beyond malignant narcissism.
But this is flawed thinking. For then you're just a narcissist till you get caught and convicted of a physically violent crime, right?
That makes no sense. The very idea of a disease being the sick person's deed is absurd. For example, then Lee Harvey Oswald was only a malignant narcissist till the day he murdered President Kennedy, by which act he suddenly became a psychopath, right? Absurd.
As Dr. Robert Hare asserts, the vast majority of psychopaths never commit a physically violent crime. But that doesn't mean they aren't absolutely capable of committing one anytime they are tempted to and think they can get away with it.
And it certainly doesn't mean that they aren't destroyers nonetheless, who leave a vast pile of human destruction in their wake.
Because they have no conscience.
It's what people are CAPABLE of that counts, and that we never know. In fact, we never know what we ourselves are capable of in extremity until we discover it in extremity.
Everyone has a certain amount of narcissism as a personality trait. It is essential. It is responsible for our self love and instinct for self preservation. People we call "narcissists" are usually people who have inflated self esteem.
The typical stereotype is the one Mohamed Ali used to spoof when he was called Cassius Clay: "I am the greatest! The prettiest! The best!"
The narcissist puffs himself up. Note that this is POSITIVE.
Whom does it hurt? No one. At worst it can be inconsiderate, snobby, and condescending. Yes, the mere narcissist can be obnoxious. But he isn't a PREDATOR.
He doesn't have to hurt others to kill his pain. He doesn't have to establish his grandeur by tearing others down off that pedestal. He doesn't have to treat others like dirt to feel good about himself.
Why? Because he really does feel good about himself. In fact, his problem is that he feels too darned good about himself. He is typically someone spoiled, born with a silver spoon in their mouth, or someone in whom fame and fortune have gone to the head.
But is he capable of loving a spouse and his children? Yes! of course. If he sees a dog or person suffering in a gutter on the street will he kick them for the power rush it gives him? No! He will tenderly help them. He is a human being. He just has a bad personality trait. Who doesn't?
Now ask those same two questions about a malignant narcissist. The answers will be reversed. He will not respond humanly in either situation ... unless there's an audience to put on a kindly humanitarian act for.
The malignant narcissist is nothing at all like your garden variety narcissist. The malignant narcissist's narcissism isn't just a personality trait. He has a disordered personality, a broken one, a dysfunctional one. The malignant narcissist is a NEGATIVE narcissist. He thinks he can obtain grandeur by negative means. By taking it away from others.
Hence, he thinks to glorify himself by degrading you. He thinks to gain respect by denying any to you. He thinks to make himself important by treating you like dirt. He improves his reputation by ruining yours.
See the pattern? It is like he thinks grandeur some sort of substance he assimilates by devouring it in you. Like predator. That's what a predator is made out of - the bodies of all the prey it has eaten. Your malignant narcissist is just doing the same thing in the moral sphere of action.
He thinks all the regard, respect, love, attention, worth, and appreciation he robbed you of belongs to him now. In other words, the malignant narcissist is a moral cannibal. Kinda like a vampire who lives by drinking other people's blood (a symbol for life and suffering).
So, instead of praising himself like the garden-variety narcissist does, the malignant narcissist just denigrates you. See the difference? It's a huge difference.
Which is why he's a predator. He goes through life hungrily looking for good prospects to take a bite out of. He's addicted to that pain-killing narcotic. So the more he gets the more he wants.
Therefore, hurting people isn't something malignant narcissists do by accident: it's how they live.
In other words, they are not just mildly sick in the head: they are seriously sick in the head, no matter how good they are at passing for normal in public.
So, there you have it: the portrait of the narcissist and the malignant narcissist. The resemblance is purely superficial in that both are often (but not always) arrogant or even haughty. Both are inconsiderate.
But that's where the similarity ends. The narcissist has no malignance in him.
A malignant narcissist doesn't really have inflated self-esteem. He lives in terror of moments of self-awareness so as to unknow that though. He is just ACTING the part of a god, acting the part of someone who thinks his you-know-what doesn't stink. He is a little child playing Pretend by dressing up in Daddy's cloths. He actually despises himself. So much that he won't even know his true self.
He won't identify with his true wretched self. He prefers to be a mirage he makes in mirrors.
So, a malignant narcissist isn't just a severe case of narcissism. A malignant narcissist is a whole other thing.
narcissistic personality disorder narcissism