Are some narcissists worse than others?
I can see how the lay person falls for the notion that your garden variety narcissist or psychopath - who never commits a violent crime - is somehow not as sick as the one who does. But I am peeved at professionals for being so simplistic. It's their job to think a little better than that.
An example will show how flawed this notion is.
Let's take two narcissists. One happens to be the son of Saddam Hussein back in his heyday. The other happens to be the younger brother of an FBI agent.
These two predators live in very different environments. They have very different situations.
Saddam's son cannot be punished or retaliated against for anything he does. No one dares even look at him crosswise. When he says, "I want a woman in my torture chamber within the hour," a whole herd of people scramble to do his bidding. He is so powerful in his world that he doesn't even have to hide what he is. People see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil about him. Out of fear they bow and scrape to him. They glorify him for every detestable thing he does. He not only has no inhibitions, he actually is tempted to do violent crime for the sucking praise he'll be rewarded with for it.
Now compare him to the school teacher whose brother is an FBI agent. This teacher knows that if he starts hunting human prey and bringing victims to a torture chamber in his basement that his brother will notice things that make him suspicious. The neighbors might notice something. His colleagues at school might notice his inappropriate relationship with students. He is very vulnerable. No one would praise him for doing such things. Anyone would turn him into the police if they suspected him of doing such things. He'd be shamed for life in his world if anyone discovered that he was about such horrible things.
Now compare these two men. Which is sicker? We can't tell. One has inhibitions and the other doesn't. One can get away with murder and the other can't.
What if they switched places? Do you think that the FBI agent's brother, filling the shoes of Saddam's son, would be any different than Saddam's real son? Or vice versa?
Therefore, a narcissist's acting out could very well be a measure only of their FREEDOM TO ACT OUT, not a measure of how warped they are.
This part is just my own observation, but seeing is believing for me. More than once I have seen a narcissist's life circumstances change almost overnight, so that they suddenly could get away with much worse abuse. And guess what happened?
Bingo, it was like pushing a button on them. Overnight they began doing things that I'd have sworn the day before they were incapable of, shocking, odious things.
Which is why I am convinced that the only rein on a narcissist's behavior is what they think they can get away with. I'm not stating this as an authoritative opinion: it's my personal opinion. But my observations and thoughts have proven dead on so often that I now trust my instincts and will bet the farm that I'm right.
And I think it's time the professionals started investigating. I bet they will find that the only thing that one makes on N worse than another is his ability to get away with worse.
Because if you have no conscience, you have no conscience. And, just being afraid to have people think badly of you is not the same thing as having a real conscience.
What does this mean if it's true? It means that the N you live or work with now may become monster overnight someday when the situation changes.
A death in the family is an example of the type of thing that can can precipitate the event. It always results in a shake up of existing relationships and the balance of power. For example, many have observed that the death of a non-narcissistic parent often precipitates a coming-out of a narcissist. Though an adult, the narcissist still is that parent's child, so the non-narcissistic parent still had the old parental rein on the N child's conduct. But as soon as that parent is gone, the other children in the family had better look out.
This is why you shouldn't tempt fate. If someone is a malignant narcissist, he or she may be little threat to you today, but that can change. With a promotion, a death in the family, or any number of other everyday events.
narcissistic personality disorder narcissism