Why Malignant Narcissists Inflict Great Harm, But Benign Narcissists Don’t

 / 

, ,
benign narcissists

When we think about the word ‘narcissist’, toxic individuals with selfish, self-obsessed personalities come to mind. However, unlike malignant narcissists, there is one kind of narcissist who even though they have narcissistic tendencies, don’t feel the need to go out of their way to hurt and torment others. They are known as benign narcissists.

Key Points

The malignant narcissist differs from the benign narcissist in important ways.
The harmful narcissist tends to become successful and hurts others.
The malignant variety blames others for having "chosen" their lower power or status.
The harmful narcissist is prone to destructive aggression and violence, especially when feeling ignored or insulted.

Some interesting new research documents a range of ways that narcissists who achieve power harm people. However, I think it’s important to recognize the difference between the malignant narcissist and the more benign variety. They aren’t the same. And their impact upon the people around them, or under their control, is also different.

To explain, the malignant narcissist seeks domination and control over others with destructive, malicious intent. Inflicting harm to others is part of the aim. Doing so serves their need for self-aggrandizement, often to ward off deep, more unconscious insecurity. It’s similar to the writer Gore Vidal’s well-known bon mot, “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”

The benign narcissist is also self-absorbed, often to ward off deep insecurity as well. But the benign version lives very much inside their own head, in a sense. In their own world. The “outside” reality of you and me, others’ lives, needs, or situations doesn’t really register for them. It’s as though the other person isn’t really there—until reminded.

The benign narcissist is very self-serving and may manipulate and control others, but not with malicious or destructive intent. Rather, it’s just to continue to feel secure and in control of their own world, in a benign kind of way.

Related: 8 Signs You Are Dealing With A Vulnerable Narcissist

With those differences in mind, let’s look at some recent research that adds to what we know about the malignant narcissist’s impact. One recent study found that they tend to become successful more easily in many organizational settings—as many people experience in their workplace, to their dismay.

Moreover, the narcissist’s success takes a toll on peers, subordinates, and others in their orbit, from their arrogance, insensitivity, need to control and dominate. That study, published in The Leadership Quarterly, was described in full by Carly Cassella in Science Alert.

She writes that such narcissists, “those who score higher in overconfidence, dominance, and authoritarianism, are more like to get appointed CEO.” And they “are known to procure negative outcomes for the firm, such as financial crime, tax avoidance, less collaborative cultures and more. Some studies have shown, for instance, that narcissistic CEOs appear more willing to commit crimes for the sake of the business.”

“Once they’re in power, narcissists consolidate their position by firing everyone who challenges them,” explained psychologist Charles O’Reilly in Stanford University’s report. “In their place rise a plague of toadies, opportunists, and enablers equally guided by self-interest and short on scruples. So you end up with these individualistic cultures with no teamwork and low integrity.”

benign narcissist

That study confirms and adds to empirical evidence that we see in the workplace and career consulting, as well as in psychotherapy with men and women who find themselves dealing with the emotional impact of work-related conflicts related to narcissistic managers and leaders.

Two other studies reveal different kinds of harmful effects of the narcissist who wields power over others—whether in the workplace or in personal relationships. One, from UC San Diego, looked at people who wield power and control over others, by virtue of their position, wealth, or both. It found that they tend to blame others for perceived shortcomings or poor performance. They are not troubled by inequality, or conditions that underlie the less-powerful. They see such people as having had a “choice” in their lives.

According to the lead author Yidan Yin, “Compared to low-power people, high-power people are less likely to be aware of others’ constraints. As a result, they assign more blame when people make mistakes or have shortcomings. Thus, they see the current hierarchy as more justified.” The findings resulted from a series of related studies, described here and published in Social Psychology and Personality Science.

Then, a third study found a strong link between this malignant form of narcissism and direct aggression towards others. It was based on an analysis by Ohio State of over 400 separate studies from around the world. It found a strong link between narcissism and both aggression and violence.

Related: Who Is A Ninja Narcissist: 7 Ninja Traits Of A Covert Introvert Narcissist

According to co-author Brad Bushman, “It is a pretty straightforward message: Narcissism is a significant risk factor for aggressive and violent behavior across the board.” That includes narcissism that’s “physical, verbal, bullying, direct or indirect, and displaced onto innocent targets,” according to lead author Sophie Kjaervik. And, she added, “Individuals who are high in narcissism are not particularly picky when it comes to how they attack others.”

The researchers also found that narcissists were more likely than others to be aggressive whether they were provoked or not. But the risk for aggression was significantly higher when they felt provoked, such as being ignored or insulted. The study was published in Psychological Bulletin.

Want to know more about benign narcissists? Check this video out below!

So, reader, you may be harmed by the variety of ways the malignant narcissist can inflict, but if you know or are related to a benign narcissist, they may be annoying and seem insensitive to you—but likely have no malicious intent!

Douglas LaBier can be contacted via his website labier.com or email douglas@labier.com.


Written By Douglas LaBier
Originally Appeared On Psychology Today
benign narcissists pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

10 Covert Signs Of A Psychopath: Don’t Be Fooled By Their “Nice” Behavior

Signs Of A Psychopath: Look Out For These Sneaky Signs!

Have you ever wondered what lurks beneath the surface of those seemingly nice, charming and friendly individuals? You know the type—the ones who effortlessly wear a smile, say all the right things but leave you feeling a bit unsettled and uneasy. Well, my friend, get ready because we’re about to discuss the signs of a psychopath.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to scare you, but let’s face it, we all love a good psychological puzzle, right? So, let’s uncover the sneaky signs of a psychopath, the signs that separate the “nice” from the truly dangerous.

Brace yourself, because what you’re about to discover might just blow your mind. Let’s explore more about people who are nice but psychopathic.

Related



Up Next

7 Red Flags Of A Future Faking Narcissist: Beyond The Façade

Red Flags Of A Future Faking Narcissist: Beyond The Façade

Have you interacted with someone who promises you the world, but when the time comes to do good on their promise, they leave you high and dry? Chances are you might be dealing with a future faking narcissist.

Future faking narcissists are charming and diabolical at the same time, and are experts at lying through their teeth. They will paint a picture-perfect image of themselves in front of you and will promise you a beautiful future. However, it’s all smokes and mirrors.

In this article, we are going to talk about the signs of future faking narcissists, so that it’s easier for you to understand when someone is genuinely interested in building a future with you and when someone is simply playing you.



Up Next

The “False Self” Of A Narcissist: Look Beyond The Facade!

Hidden Narcissist False Self: Make Believe Traits in Them

The narcissist false self is charming and confident, masking underlying insecurities and emptiness beneath. Let’s find out other secrets they hide!

Narcissists have a false self. They’re master illusionists. They behave like a little king or queen — whether bragging or sulking. Their whole personality is a charade crafted to deceive you into believing they are confident, superior, self-sufficient, likable, and caring.

In studies, groups of people met with and liked a narcissist, but after 6 more interviews, they discerned the narcissist’s true nature and changed thei



Up Next

How To Deal With Your Partner’s Obsessive Ex? 4 Tips For Successfully Handling One

Deal With Your Partner's Obsessive Ex: Tips And Tricks

Have you ever had to deal with an obsessive ex? Moreover, have you ever had to deal with your partner’s obsessive and toxic ex? If you have, you already know how disturbing it is to go through this. This article is going to talk about some of the best ways to deal with a toxic ex or deal with your partner’s toxic ex.

My friend is happily married to a man who has a child. He is a devoted and loving father who sought full custody of the children; the court denied his petition.

His two children are living with their narcissistic mother who actively alienates the children from their father. His ex was obsessed with him during their short and turbulent relationship. She was deceitful, abusive, controlling, and highly destructive. They hooked up while drunk.



Up Next

Dog Whistling Narcissist: 8 Ways Narcissists Use This Covert Manipulation Tactic

Dog Whistling Narcissist: Covert Ways They Manipulate You

Have you ever had the feeling that when you are talking to someone, there’s a hidden message they’re trying to get across to you? A message that feels insulting, condescending and hurtful? If you answered yes, then you are dealing with a dog whistling narcissist, my friend.

These people are experts at sending subtle messages that are extremely hurtful and humiliating, but only you understand it, not anyone else. When a narcissist uses dog whistling, their main motive is to manipulate you and keep you under their control. They’ll use it to dominate you, and put you down, while pretending to be harmless.

But what is dog whistling, and how narcissists use dog whistling? Let’s find out, shall we?



Up Next

What Is A Superiority Complex And How To Deal With Someone Who Thinks They Are Better Than You

What Is A Superiority Complex And How To Deal With It

Have you ever met someone who believes they are inherently better than others? Do they constantly exude an air of superiority, belittle others, or dismiss others’ accomplishments? This is a superiority complex in action. What is a superiority complex?

People who exhibit traits of condescension and arrogance are believed to have a superiority complex, a psychological phenomenon that drives such behavior. Let’s explore the superiority complex in psychology, its signs, causes, and most importantly, how to deal with someone with a superiority complex.

What is a Superiority Complex?

A superiority co



Up Next

What Is A Devouring Mother? Overcoming A Narcissistic Mother’s Toxic Grip

What Is A Devouring Mother? Ways To Overcome Toxicity

Do you feel overwhelmed, smothered, or suffocated by all the love and attention your mother gives you? Perhaps you know people who feel trapped in situations where their mother’s love becomes an all-encompassing affair? This phenomenon is referred to as “The Devouring Mother Archetype.” Let’s explore what is a devouring mother and how to deal with the devouring mother archetype.

What is a Devouring Mother?

The Freudian devouring mother describes a controlling, overbearing motherly figure hampering a child’s development and independence. It is marked by possessiveness and narcissism.

As the term is not a literal description, a devouring Mother does not mean a mother who consumes her children ph