I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
If a right to ask me, isn't your definition of malignant narcissism far too wide?
They say, having read your book, I think that it fits my neighbors, co-workers, friends and family to a T. Everyone seems to be a narcissist to me now.
The answer is that this is an understandable reaction. All of us have narcissistic traits. Some of us even develop a narcissistic personality or a narcissistic style.
Moreover, narcissism is a spectrum of behaviors, from the healthy to the utterly pathological, a condition known as narcissistic personality disorder or NPD.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM, uses this language to describe the malignant narcissist.
An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity in fantasy or behavior, need for admiration or adulation, and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts.
So, what matters is that these characteristics often found in healthy people appear jointly and not separately or intermittently, and that they are all pervasive.
They invade, they penetrate, and they mold every aspect, nuke and cranny, of the personality and of interpersonal relationships.
In a malignant narcissist, grandiose fantasies are abundantly discernible. Grandiose behavior, often ridiculous ones, are present.
There is an overriding need for admiration and adulation or attention.
Narcissistic supply. The person lacks empathy, regards other people as two-dimensional cartoon figures and obstructions, unable to stand in their shoes.
These traits and behaviors in a malignant narcissist begin at the latest in early adolescence and more often in childhood.
The narcissistic behaviors pervade all social and emotional interactions of the narcissist.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual specifies nine diagnostic criteria. For narcissistic personality disorder to be diagnosed, five or more of these criteria must be met.
There is a special video on my YouTube channel which deals with the diagnostic criteria. Be sure to watch it.
So how would I define clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously, a malignant narcissist?
The type that has narcissistic personality disorder and breaks havoc on himself and his surroundings?
Well, first of all, he feels grandiose and self-important. He exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts and personality traits to the point of lying. He demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements. He is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fear, fearsome power or omnipotence, fame, unequal brilliance, bodily beauty or sexual performance, or an ideal everlasting, all-conquering love or passion.
The narcissist is firmly convinced that he or she is unique and being special can only be understood by and should only be treated by or associated with other special or unique or high status people or institutions.
The narcissist requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation, or failing that wishes to be feared and to be notorious.
The narcissist feels entitled. He demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment.
The narcissist is interpersonally exploitative. In other words, he uses others to achieve his or her own goals and ends. He is devoid of empathy. He is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities and choices of other people. He is constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or to destroy the objects of his or her frustration. He suffers from persecutory delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him and are likely to act similarly. He behaves arrogantly and haughtily. He feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, above the law and omnipresent. This is called magical thinking. He rages when he is frustrated, contradicted or confronted by people he or she consider inferior to him or her and unworthy.
So this is, in a nutshell, the malignant narcissist.
You surely come across such people in your life, but definitely this amalgamated description does not fit everyone.
The narcissist truly is unique.