I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Is the narcissist legally insane?
Well, narcissists are not prone to irresistible impulses. They are also not prone to dissociation. They don't blank out stressful events and actions.
Narcissists more or less fully control their behavior and acts at all times.
But exerting control over one's conduct requires the investment of resources, both mental and physical.
And narcissists regard such an investment as a waste of their precious time, or even a humiliating chore.
Lacking empathy, narcissists don't care about other people's feelings, needs, priorities, wishes, preferences and boundaries.
As a result, narcissists are awkward, tactless, painful, taciturn, abrasive and insensitive.
True, narcissists often have rage attacks and grandiose fantasies. Most narcissists are also obsessive compulsive.
Yet all narcissists should be held accountable to the vast and overwhelming majority of their actions. At all times, even during the worst explosive episode, the narcissist can tell right from wrong and can rein in his impulses.
The narcissist's impulse control, contrary to prevailing myths, is unimpaired. The narcissist pretends that he is not in control of his rage or his impulses, and he does that in order to terrorize, to manipulate and coerce his human environment into compliance.
The only things the narcissist cannot control are his grandiose fantasies.
All the same, the narcissist knows that lying and confabulating are morally wrong and sometimes legally wrong, and he can choose to refrain from doing so.
The narcissist is perfectly capable of anticipating the consequences of his actions and their influence on others.
Similarly, narcissists are x-ray machines. They are very perceptive and very sensitive to the subtlest nuances of human behavior and body language.
But the narcissist does not care. For him, humans are dispensable, rechargeable, reusable and interchangeable. Humans are there to fulfill a function, to supply the narcissist with narcissistic supply. They should give him adoration, admiration, adulation, approval, affirmation, attention.
As far as the narcissist is concerned, people don't have an existence apart from carrying out their duties to him.
So it sounds like a clear-cut case. The narcissist knows and can tell right from wrong, he can control his actions, an explosive character, and rage. He simply doesn't care to do so.
But it is not as clear-cut as it sounds.
Some scholars note correctly that many narcissists have no criminal intent, mens rea, even when they commit criminal acts, ectos. The narcissist may victimize, plunder, intimidate and abuse others, but not in the cold, calculating manner of the psychopath.
The narcissist hurts people, but he does it off-handedly, carelessly and absent-mindedly.
Narcissist is more like a force of nature or a beast of prey. Dangerous, but not purposeful, not evil.
Psychopaths, on the other hand, are evil. They are sadistic. They usually enjoy what they are doing.
Moreover, many narcissists don't feel responsible for their actions. They believe that they are victims of injustice, bias, prejudice and discrimination.
This is because they are shapeshifters. They are actors.
The narcissist is not one person, but two. The true self is as good as dead and buried. The false self changes so often in reaction to life circumstances that the narcissist has no sense of personal continuity.
Therefore, a misdeed, a misconduct, a felony, an aggressive act committed by the narcissist, in one instance, are disowned and disavowed by the narcissist in the next instance, because he doesn't feel that he is the same person who has committed the act in the first place.
I have written in my book Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.
The narcissist's perception of his life and his existence is discontinuous. The narcissist is a walking compilation of personalities, each with its own personal history.
The narcissist does not feel that he is, in any way, related to his former selves.
He therefore does not understand why he has to be punished for someone else's actions or inactions.
This injustice surprises, hurts and enrages him.
Pathological narcissism is on the border of dissociation. It resembles very much the old notion of multiple personality disorder.
Only in this case, there are two personalities.