When we hear the word narcissist, most people can think of a co-worker, ex, or friend that could fit the description.
Self-centered, a bit too full of themselves, doesn’t seem too aware of the effects they have on other people, you know the type.
“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.” ― Sam Vaknin
A certain amount of narcissism is healthy and normal. We all need realistic self-esteem, as long as it is balanced with a shared emotional life.
And then there is narcissistic personality disorder, where the person overestimates their abilities and has an exaggerated need for admiration and affirmation, as well as by excessive feelings of self-importance.
Narcissistic personality disorder affects 1% of the population. Are these people dangerous?
Narcissistic Emotional Abuse
Narcissists are without a doubt emotionally dangerous to be involved with. Are they ever physically dangerous also?
Well, never say never. In extreme cases, yes, someone with narcissistic personality disorder could be physically dangerous.
Actually, in extreme cases almost anyone can be dangerous. But narcissists in general express themselves more on a social level, through psychological manipulation and exploitation.
“The pain of the narcissist is that, to him, everything is really a threat. What doesn’t surrender in reverence is blasphemous to a high opinion of oneself – the burden of self-importance. The narcissist reconstructs his own law of gravity which states that all things and all creatures must adhere to his personal satisfaction, but when they do not, the pain is far more intense than it is for one who is free from the clamors of ‘I’.” ― Criss Jami
There are a few factors which could contribute to the extreme cases.
First of all, their absolute belief that they are special tends to make it easy for them to justify their actions to themselves.
The fact that he or she has a lack of empathy for others can make them powerless to seeing when they are hurting others. And finally, a need for protecting their inflated sense of self-worth can them him desperate.
However, narcissists tend to see physical violence as beneath them. They like to think of themselves as having perfect impulse control and perfect control over their emotions.
The few who do become violent likely have other aspects of their psychological make-up contributing to the violence.
In terms of pure psychological violence and emotional abuse, however, a narcissist is quite capable of being dangerous to your mental and emotional health.
Manipulation, ostracizing, lies, gaslighting, subjugation, torment, mind games, brainwashing, domination, isolating, slander and gossip are just some of their methods of psychological violence.
Signs of a Narcissist
If you have ever wondered if someone has narcissistic personality disorder, ask yourself if they have any combination or even all of the following symptoms:
- Express disdain for those they see as inferior
- Believe they are better than others
- Think that others are jealous of them
- Fantasize about attractiveness, success and power
- Exaggerate their achievements or talents
- Set unrealistic goals for themselves or others
- Fragile self-esteem
- Believe they are special and act like it
- Fail to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings
- Expect others to go along with their ideas and plans
- Expect continuous praise and admiration
- Jealous of others or always being suspicious of others motives
- Have trouble with healthy relationships with the opposite sex
- Easily hurt and rejected
- Take advantage of others, then justify such actions
Prone to Aggression and Vengeance
Research has shown that narcissists’ low empathy, feelings of entitlement, and perceptions of being deprived of deserved admiration and gratification can make them prone to aggression and vengeance.
A 2010 study looked at whether narcissists’ hostility is aimed at heterosexual women and men, versus gay men and lesbian women in the same way and with the same intensity.
Each group represents a different mix of perceived conformity to traditional gender roles on the one hand, and potential for gratifying a heterosexual man on the other.
A total of 104 male undergraduates, aged 21 years on average, from a large university in the Midwest US took part in the study survey.
Psychologist Dr. Scott Keiller investigated measures of narcissism, sexist attitudes toward women and traditional female stereotypes, sexist attitudes toward men and heterosexual male stereotypes, and attitudes toward gay men and lesbian women.
His results showed that men’s narcissism was associated most strongly with hostility toward heterosexual women, more so than toward any other group including heterosexual men, gay men and lesbian women.
Men’s narcissism was actually linked to favorable attitudes toward lesbians and was unrelated to attitudes toward gay men. Narcissism was not, however, associated with greater acceptance of homosexuality in general.
According to Dr. Keiller, these results suggest that narcissistic men believe that heterosexual relationships should be patriarchal rather than egalitarian.
Dr. Keiller concludes:
“The present study suggests that heterosexual men’s narcissism is linked to an adversarial and angry stance toward heterosexual women more than toward other groups. Although narcissists may want to maintain feelings of superiority and power over all people, narcissistic heterosexual men are particularly invested in subordinating heterosexual women. The results suggest that narcissistic hostility is associated with a group’s potential to provide or withhold gratification rather than ideology about a group’s sexual orientation or conformity to heterosexual gender roles.”
Male narcissism and attitudes toward heterosexual women and men, lesbian women and gay men: hostility toward heterosexual women most of all.
Sex Roles, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s11199-010-9837-8
Erica G. Hepper, Claire M. Hart, and Constantine Sedikides.
Moving Narcissus: Can Narcissists Be Empathic?
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, May 30, 2014 DOI: 10.1177/0146167214535812
Top Image: Detail from Freeze by Richard Rappaport (19996) CC 3.0