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Why Malignant Narcissists are Dangerous

Updated on June 17, 2016

Watch Out for These Predators

The malignant narcissist in your life may not be serving time in jail. Technically, this dangerous predator hasn't broken any laws. Or, perhaps she did, but just wasn't caught.

Although it's illegal to harass someone, you'd have a very hard time proving that's what happened. Adult bullies are very good at covering up their misdeeds. This is how they manage to destroy people, and still maintain a mask of saintliness.

They have a number of ways to accomplish their nefarious plans, and they usually succeed. Eventually, their impulsive nature gets the better of them. But, until that happens, they get away with outrageous antics.

How do they do this?

One of their favorite tricks is bullying by proxy. Instead of attacking directly, they recruit a team of flying monkeys. These little primates take turns doing and saying obnoxious things, in an effort to make a target come undone.

Because so many hands are involved, a target can never lodge a complaint. If she tried, it would sound ridiculous, since she'd be pointing her finger at so many people. Anybody who heard this would, naturally, assume she was the one with the personality disorder, instead of taking a good look at the real culprit.

For all of these reasons, mentioned above, malignant narcissists are every bit as dangerous as many of the folks safely locked away. In fact, they are more fearsome because they live and walk among us. Usually, they appear perfectly normal, until you get to know them better.

Malignant narcissists create drama
Malignant narcissists create drama | Source

Malignant Narcissists Ruin Relationships

If a malignant narcissist has infiltrated your social circle, expect some pain if you're her target. Notice I say "her." That's because female bullies use what's known as relational aggression. This involves placing everyone in a very compromising position of either being on her side or not. Not going along with the program will be done under the thinly veiled threat of becoming the next target. Faced with this choice, most people buckle, especially if they have children. That's because they don't want their children left out of the various activities organized by the narcissist.

In a family dynamic, a malignant personality will pit one person against another. This can have very dire emotional consequences for people who grow up in such an atmosphere.

The aftermath of malignant narcissism is a lonely spot. But there's good news too. Once you regroup, you learn how to avoid such situations in the future. If another narcissist enters the picture, you are apt to spot the subtle and sometimes glaring warning signs. Awareness offers protection, as I'll explain next.


Erecting Strong Barriers

Once you realize someone is potentially dangerous, their power over you wanes. That's because most of the damage is done after they gain your trust and you let them into your life. Sharing any personal information, or worse, and deep, dark secrets, gives them all the ammunition they need to blow you off the map.

But if you can smoke out a narcissist beforehand, you know not to do this. Although I am not a mental health expert, I've noticed one thing. Narcissists have an astounding ability to "read" people. So, if you suspect someone is morally bankrupt, such a person also seems to sense that you've caught on to the fact that he or she is much different than the rest of us. This appears to both alarm and confuse them. So they tend to retreat, as if they're somewhat afraid of you. Maybe they are, as over the course of their lives, they've been able to fool most people. Narcissists also seem to possess a deadly fear of exposure.

However, this is only my personal observation. I am not a licensed therapist. My "education" in how narcissists operate comes from first-hand experience.

In the last few years, after the last narcissist left my life, I've seen signs of this disturbing condition in two other women. The first tried to toy with me a bit, but she and I both knew it wasn't going anywhere, so she quit. The other woman I met in a group setting. I am polite and cordial, but keep my distance.

Predators on the Job

An unleashed narcissist is a very dangerous creature in the workplace, especially if you become her target. (About 40 percent of the time, the office bully is woman.) Most people are not aware that we, as a society, are nearly drowning in a sea of character disorders. By one estimate, approximately 1 out of every 25 people meet the criteria for malignant narcissism or sociopathy. Many of these folks have clawed their way into management positions, creating an untold number of casualties along the way.

These morally disordered individuals are responsible for countless days of lost wages and retraining expenses. Once they set their mind to running someone out of an organization, they usually succeed, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, an organization that supports embattled employees.

For some reason, this bad behavior is widely tolerated throughout the United States, where it's not illegal to make life miserable for a coworker.

Of course, this is insane. If someone broke into your house and stole your jewelry, they could go to jail. But if someone bullies you at work, and robs you of your health and livelihood, there are no sanctions, because this behavior is not considered dangerous.

Workplace bullying and job loss
Workplace bullying and job loss | Source

Working for a Bully Can Destroy Your Health

Doctors are well aware that prolonged stress can destroy your health. Spending 40 hours a week, or more, as is typical nowadays, in the company of a bully, eventually takes its toll. Sooner or later, this situation will have a negative physical effect.

Hostile working conditions create a "fight or flight" scenario within our bodies. This means that our brain will make more of a certain hormone called CRH. This, in turn, tells our adrenal glands to produce more cortisol. A certain amount of cortisol is needed in order for the body to run smoothly. But too much will depress the immune system.

Without a properly function immune system, we may not mount an effective response against the malignant cells we all develop on a daily basis. Unmitigated stress may also cause high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.

Everyone reacts differently to pressure. Some people tolerate it out for extended periods of time, before it catches up with them. Others crack under pressure more quickly.

Researchers have found that even after leaving a stressful daytime environment, the effects of the daily grind continue as we sleep. It's been documented that being stressed out translates into higher levels of cortisol, even at night.

Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress

A person suffering from PTSD will experience persistent thoughts of the incident. This may also be accompanied by sweating and other physical symptoms.
Someone may experience anxiety attacks related to the event or events that triggered the PTSD.
This may be accompanied a loss of interest in activities that once brought pleasure.
Many people with PTSD are unable to get a good night sleep. Others

Narcissistic Abuse and PSTD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PSTD, is typically seen in wartime veterans and others exposed to traumatic events. People who suffer from psychological abuse can also experience this anxiety disorder.

It is not uncommon for people who've undergone severe stress, such as what you'd experience with a workplace mobbing, to become anxious, depressed and unable to trust. They may also experience physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or inability to sleep.

The fact that people who've suffered emotional abuse can experience this reaction has been well documented. Several years ago, Psychology Today quoted Dr. Joseph Carver, PhD., a clinical psychologist as saying that everyone who's been abused develops some form of PSTD.

A Discussion of Narcissism Versus Sociopathy

Dealing with Dangerous People

We need to protect ourselves from malignant narcissists, as much as we need to lock up our homes when a burglar is on the loose in our neighborhood. These dangerous individuals will steal everything they can from you, including your peace and your sanity. These are much more precious than your material possessions, which are easily replaced.

So, what's the best way of dealing with a dangerous person? That would be not getting involved in the first place. Arm yourself with knowledge, so you can spot the warning signs that someone has a moral deficiency. Once you see enough traits, you'll know to quickly maneuver yourself in another direction.

Signs of a Disordered Personality

There is no hard and fast guarantee for identifying a malignant personality, as even the professionals are sometimes blindsided. But here are a few things to watch for.

  • An unrealistic sense of entitlement. A highly narcissistic individual may expect a lot of favors, along with the understanding they won't be returned. Because he or she thinks she's so special, she considers just being in her company a form of compensation.
  • Being exploitative. This goes hand-in-hand with a sense of entitlement. Morally disordered people take advantage of others. They are the consummate "users."
  • Deceitfulness. Lying comes easy to a narcissist. If you discern a pattern of lies, proceed cautiously.
  • Backbiting. I've never known a narcissism who doesn't malign others, either overtly or in a more subtle manner. If she's talking about others to you, rest assured she's saying similar things about you, behind your back.
  • Angry Outbursts. Watch for brief flashes of rage. People with personality disorders have a difficult time managing their anger.


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  • grand old lady profile image

    Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

    This is very interesting and informative. I plan to send this to a friend who is having trouble at work. I suspect the one who is heckling her is a narcicisst.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi grand old lady, I certainly wouldn't be surprised if that were the case. Narcissists are very difficult to deal with.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Seems the focus should be on the enablers as narcissists need a rock bottom to change.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Eric, you are right. The enablers are not innocent.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    I had no idea that malignant narcissism was so common. What a sad and scary situation. Your hub is very useful because it tells people how to recognize the signs of a narcissist and how to avoid their influence.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi Alicia, thanks so much for reading. I hope to help spread the word about this disorder, so people can recognize the signs, and take steps to protect themselves.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    Sadly, some of the cases I investigated in HR nearly followed your description like a script. I have talked to many employees who were close to cracking from bullies and their henchmen. It takes a lot to bring them down. Oddly, I found that what often worked was getting them on a technicality -- kind of like Al Capone and tax fraud. Sooner or later because of their overconfidence they will overstep a formal policy, probably tangential to the situation, that requires stiff discipline, even discharge. People need to be vigilant to all of their behavior.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

    Everything you put here reminds me of a certain person at work! she hid behind everybody else and caused so much trouble, this fits her exactly! I never knew this saying before, but yes she is definitely a malignant narcissist!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    I'm back to pin this!

  • profile image

    Lori Powell 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

    This is a very timely post for me to come across tonight, this is so much my daughter-in-law who was removed from the home 3 years ago after almost killing my grand-daughter by giving her medicine to keep her quiet Children Protective Services intervened and 3 of my grand=children were in foster care for 2 years because my son can not stand up to her, Last May the children were reunited with my son on the condition she not be allowed in the home, so I've been helping him the last year, basically raising a 4, 10, and 12 year-old because his job is demanding and he works a lot of hours. But she has him so manipulated that after 3 years he is still working on reunification with her, and is constantly siding with her, over even the children, and gets upset when I finally get feed up with all her "SHIT" (at this point in stooping to those words cause I can't think of a stronger word to use), that she throws up in the last minutes of Family Therapy when there is not time to address the issue, (and honestly trying to do that is more "crazy making" then screaming about it later hoping someone, my son, will listen), but I was told even if the kids don't like it when I get upset at least they know someone will stand up for them, and their needs, even though I'm "dammed id I do and dammed if I don't" when it comes to do with anything I do with them, even if it was something agreed on earlier. And my son just throws me under the bus and thus his children when he gives into her, so yes enablers are sometimes even more at fault that the narcissist, because as long as the let that person get away with that behavior the more power they give the narcissist. And yes it affects the overall health of everyone else, the stress flares up chronic health problems that I'm for the most part quieting by living a more holistic life, and it's not good overall for these poor kids to see their grandmother pitted against their mother and dad just not wanting to deal with any of it and caving cause it's easier for him, that's why we got in this situation in the first place. I know it sounds awful but I believe in the long run if they would terminate her rights as a parent and tell her and my son if she was allowed back in the home they would both go to jail, they always say they look out for the best interest of the children, but many times the are short sited and not tough enough when they need to be and too tough in some situations. They have said the only reason they are still in the picture (most cases are over within 2 years) is they are afraid my son will let his wife come back as soon as their out of the picture, but she's had 3 years and many chances but she makes what some see as "progress" and see hope, I see through all this shit especially now that I'm having to deal with her, before I didn't interfere, (maybe I should have, hind site is better than fore-site) and let them alone but, for the childrens sake this cannot be allowed to happen anymore, and I will not leave them abandoned, and will go through hell and back for them, because they deserve at a chance at a decent life, despite their parents, and C.P.S. and sometimes even me as I struggle to deal with this situation, that I was not prepared to deal with, and am not always prepared for all the nuclear bombs she throws, and don't always deal with the best way, and I've voiced this concern, but all the "Professionals" say I'm doing a good job and that if it wasn't for me the kids would have put up for adoption, but to many times I feel like I'm the lesser of 2 evils, adoption or me, poor kids, people should be trained and have to get a license to have children, to many children and then thus people, become ill-equipped to deal appropriately with life. I never really understood the verse in the bible that says basically "that the children will visited by the sins of their parents", but I have seen so many things passed down now for 4 generations things from both nature and nurture, to now understand this more than I'd like and want to try to stop with these children especially the ones that come from nurture, and thus being able to deal with positively the ones that come from heredity, (learning disabilities), don't know why I went on so much here to people who don't know me and probably don't care, but it is a positive way to get my feeling out without doing harm, and a way to take a different way to see the issues and ways to deal, never before have I thought about certain people going to jail to put an end to this situation, not that I think that that would fly, maybe this is something that should be thought of for the sake of the children, not for what "mommy and daddy wants" and probably not the kids at first, but why do we always have to try to work with people who just don't get it, and for how long at the detriment to others.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi grammy, thank goodness the children have you in their lives right now, especially if their mother is not legally allowed to see them. I am so sorry that you have to go through this. It sounds absolutely hellish. Unfortunately, you're not alone because many, many other grandparents are dealing with terrible situations as well. It seems as if we're living in absolutely crazy times. It seems to be a spiritual chastisement, where there is no peace anywhere .The best advice I can give you is to pray a lot and turn the entire matter over to God. This is too big for you to handle alone. I'll pray for you.

  • profile image

    Lori Powell 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

    Thank you, I've done some thinking though that I'm no longer going to be concerned with what she says if she truly thinks that what I'm doing is so dangerous or harmful than she can go through CPS workers who are still working with us, and say that I'm doing a good job with them, and I will no longer do active therapy with her because the stress that it causes harms both the children and I physically and mentally, and it's amazing that when I told the children this they were glad, except for the part that even if they go whining to mom or dad that I'm to strict, cause I expect them to do chores,( help with house work, and keep their rooms clean) and do them to the best of there ability without attitude, or they lose privileges or have to go back and finish them right, (which mommy says is not right they shouldn't be made to keep their rooms clean), basically I'm going to exert my authority (power), which I should have a long time ago instead of not wanting to upset anyone, and if I had earlier maybe all this would not have happened to these kids, but hindsight is better than foresight, so I'm going to learn from that and not dwell on what I should have done but put that into what I need to from here forward.

    And I to wish you well in all that you do and this blog spot hopefully it will help others, as I has helped me, after reading this and a couple of your other blogs helped me to see the light as they say.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi grammy, please feel free to visit anytime. It's good that you're setting limits, because children need limits. I'm happy that reading about malignant narcissism has helped. I think educating ourselves on this very prevalent disorder can protect us.

  • profile image

    Lori Powell 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

    This is so true and as more of these people raise children the more we end up with in society, so people really need to be careful before entering into a relationship because once these people entangle you it is very difficult to get away, I know I had to leave state to get away from my ex, who in many ways was like my daughter-in-law, maybe that's how I caught on quickly. But it also shows how people tend to pick mates, and how these things perpetuate generation from generation even if we think it wouln't.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    It really is frightening how prevalent this type of behavior is. One estimate is one out of every 25 people, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was even a little higher. Every office seems to now have a workplace bully. All we can do is to do our best not to get entangled with them. If you're entangled with one already, prayer is your best recourse. Things are never easy when dealing with a narcissist.

  • profile image

    Chris 2 years ago

    Narcisism is near and dear to my heart not basuece I am one but basuece I grew up with one. I'm self centered and self absorbed but narcisism is an entirely different animal. They lack the ability to believe in themselves so the bend the world around them. They manipulate, contrive, and force if need be to make sure they are loved even if it's fake. They will not admit a mistake basuece it risks revealing the true self the flawed the broken.They don't deserve to think of themselve even that way basuece flaws are beautiful and breaks are character neither of which they have.Hate yourself for forgetting about the world for enjoying yourself enough to be with yourself alone but not for being a narcisist. You have far more dimensions than that.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    It is very difficult to deal with a narcissist, no doubt about it.

  • profile image

    glenda LaFont 18 months ago

    l was the victim of NPD. I took care of my dying mother in my home. My aunt who lived ten minutes away rarely came to see her. When she did come she never offered help and she would come and criticize my father's people. My mother was beautiful but her illness had an affect on her looks.My aunt was thrilled my mother was no longer beautiful and said so. After my mother died this woman told everyone in my family that I did not take care of my mother that she did. The family believed her. I no longer associate with my mother's people because of this horrible woman. She did much more to me than that. I can't go into it. These are horrible vicious people.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 18 months ago from USA

    They are vicious and it helps to know that, so you can choose to limit your exposure and protect yourself. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. I'm sure you took very good care of her and have nothing to feel guilty about. Your poor aunt sounds like she's not young, yet has learned so little in life.

  • profile image

    Wanda 15 months ago

    Thisis very good information, thank you. My mother is a malignant narcissist, and it was very difficult when I was growing up. On your "signs of a disordered personality", I'm glad you put flashes of rage last, because, while my mother exhibits all five of those tendencies very strongly, I also struggle with flashes of rage because of the abuse I endured. Narcs also love to bait their victims until the victim snaps, so the narc can call the victim "irrational", "too sensitive" and the like. That is one of the reasons I chose to go NC. I believe that saved my life. I know it saved my joy and peace. Thanks for sharing the knowledge. :)

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 15 months ago from USA

    Hi Wanda, thanks for reading.

  • profile image

    Dean Radtke 11 months ago

    I am so appreciative of this information. My wife is abusing my daughter in this way. From early childhood she physically hit my daughter, when the police intervened she stopped but now is still full of jealous rage and gossips relentlessly to the community (and every community we have lived in) as well as to the entire extended family and to any friend my daughter has made. She is on a mission to destroy my daughters reputation and any self esteem. She laughs when my daughter asked her to stop. When I stand up for my daughter and correct my wife's wicked lies I am then punished and I have to live with this monster. I have no idea what to do. Divorce is not an option as I am a Christian. Could someone please advise.

  • profile image

    Anon 10 months ago

    I left a really good job for another job at a new company so I could take a step back and move my career in a different direction. I was already on a good career path but wanted to hone my interest in another area within my industry. It was the biggest mistake of my whole life - the new company was filled to the brim with malignant narcissists and their enablers and helpers, all highly functioning too.

    It just seemed to be a way of life there - it was a bizarre culture. I'd never experienced this type of person so closely and on such mass previously so I really hadn't acquired the skill to protect myself from such intensely damaged people. And it really didn't help that my mother died weeks before my first day too, so my emotional sensitivities were just like a big 'hit me' target I expect, and boy was I hit, again and again and again.

    Frustratingly because I spent a lot of time at first thinking my perception of being abused was likely being caused by my sensitivity at that time (since I had no reference of such wide-spread malevolence, it took me a few months before I realised that these behaviours weren't because of me.

    I first worked in a small close knit team, our manager was inflicted and so was another senior member. The only other person left was an enabler and helper. We worked in a small office with no regular manager in attendance and the only other team that worked there contained a large number of enablers and helpers, so no one dared to speak up.

    I managed to get a transfer to another office, expecting to work under another manager who was a really good guy. Then he went off ill as I was completing my move, by this time I was already broken and hadn't had time to reflect on my recent lessons learnt, and when I got there I found that there was yet another whole sea of them! But this time, there were many many more people just like me drowning amongst them all. You couldn't speak up because it was practiced and accepted within the management structures, even from the Head of HR but actioned by her husband who also worked there. Again, my new manager and some team members seem to be afflicted, and yet again, I started to think that the problem must be me - since how could this be happening again?? The simplest explanation was that I was the common factor here. That was until I plucked up the courage to speak more personally to the larger pool of other sufferers there and realised that it wasn't me after all! It is just a way of life that is actively encouraged and promoted by the company.

    The very worrying thing was that I was told in confidence that the company had started to review sociopathic personalities a few years before and sought them out because they valued their influences within their company. This view was definitely alive and kicking in 2015 since this view was part of upper management and leadership training sessions that I happened to hear. It started to make sense, no wonder they seemed so supportive of all the bullying that was going off!

    After two years of trying to 'beat the bullies' by trying not to be uprooted and allowing them to affect my work, and in the face of just receiving an official offer for a job promotion, a pay rise, increased holiday entitlement and company car, all which I'd been working really hard for, despite the efforts of my next manager trying to bully me out of them, eventually I had just had enough when my team attempted to pressure and bully me into victimising another team member ... my refusal and quiet support for the bullied team member caused much more trouble for me and it was whilst enduring the aftermath of this that I finally gave up the ghost. Being on the other side was strange, it didn't give me the fuel to keep going stubbornly like it did when it was me in the firing line, it actually gave me a depressing insight into to how the set of bullies within my team operated behind the victims back. However, it did give me a chance to lift my head up, breath for a second and take stock of the damage I'd incurred emotionally, mentally, reputationally and socially during the last 2 years there. Wow, I couldn't believe what a shell I'd become, I've always been a sociable easygoing but assertive, upbeat person with (well what I thought was) a strong sense of self but that person was gone. No job, no promotion, car, salary increase is worth breaking your soul for...

    Sadly, just because I finally resigned (which I really should have done right at the get go), it doesn't mean things are back to normal. I'm still a broken person, seeking recovery from the biggest mistake and worst 2 years of my life. I can't decide if I should be grateful that my years up until starting here were pretty free from such people or if I should feel disappointed because I was never in a position to learn these skills in a less severe way.

    I find it comical that the company is a pet company that cares for animals but not for human beings. I can't imagine the numbers of broken people that must have left this place over the years - it doesn't bare thinking about :(

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