At a family dinner two months later the nurse castigates her older son for voting against pulling the plug. The old woman is now in a nursing home and the cost of maintaining her is eating away at her (not inconsiderable) assets. “This is your fault!” the nurse screams at her son. “I should take the cost of this nursing home out of your share of the estate! She is using up all the money because she’s taking too long to die!”
Another malignant narcissist plotted for more than two years to steal her grandchildren from her daughter so that she could give them to her childless brother to adopt. She sends her son to the daughter’s house to spy on her and, after years of ignoring her daughter and grandchildren, she begins dropping in unexpectedly—laden with gifts for the children—and snoops in her daughter’s cupboards and rooms. She even calls Child Protective services and makes baseless claims so that there will be a record of the daughter being investigated. With her son’s corroboration, the woman then spreads false tales of drug addiction, prostitution, child neglect and other horrifying stories among the extended family, blackening the name of her daughter and turning the family against her. In a court hearing in which the young mother’s uncle (brother of the grandmother) perjured himself—he had not seen his niece in more than five years, yet testified he had witnessed events in the last few months—the judge gave the grandmother a one year temporary guardianship, admonishing the stunned mother that she had a year to “clean up her act.” Visitation was granted, but when the young mother arrived to see her children several weeks later, grandma’s house was empty and a “For Sale” sign stood in the front lawn.
The grandmother took the children to another state where she obtained a permanent guardianship of the children by telling the court their mother had abandoned them. She got around the requirement to notify the mother of a court hearing by saying she had no idea where her daughter was and publishing a notice of the hearing in a newspaper in a city in which her daughter had lived several years prior, calling it the young mother’s “last known address.” The court terminated the mother’s parental rights and gave permanent guardianship of the children to their grandmother whereupon she uprooted the children yet again, moved them to the state where her childless brother lived, and gave the children to him for adoption. The children’s mother did not know where they were for eight years.
Yet another malignant narcissist, on admitting her terminally ill husband to the hospital, lied to her brother and sister about the nature of his admission, knowing the word would get back to her estranged daughter: she said he fell off a ladder at home and injured his back. When the man died of his illness a few weeks later, his daughter was not notified and she eventually discovered the fact of his death through a cousin, weeks after he had been cremated: her name was left out of his newspaper obituary as well. There is no gravesite for the bereaved daughter to visit and his ashes, according to a family member who has visited, are kept in a plastic bag in the closet of the spare room of the widow’s home.
Another daughter worked for more than 30 years in the family business, side by side with her father. On the few occasions she considered going out into the general workforce, her father convinced her to stay. “I need you here,” he told her. “I can’t run this place without you.” When he died unexpectedly, her mother inherited the business and promptly fired the daughter without notice, severance pay or references.
At Christmas dinner a woman who was the executor of a relative’s estate thrust some legal papers in front of her son, one of the heirs, demanding that he sign them immediately. The son, who suffered from dyslexia and for whom reading was difficult, politely demurred, saying he would take them to a lawyer to review when the holidays were over. She began screaming at him in front of the assembled guests, saying that if he didn’t sign the papers immediately, he was “stupid.” This insult cut him to the quick, as she knew it would, because he had struggled with feeling stupid for a lifetime because of his dyslexia, even though he was of above-normal intelligence. The man’s fiancée stepped up and told his mother “He’s not stupid! Do not call him that!” to which the mother replied, eyes narrowed and mouth twisted triumphantly “I am his mother and I will call him anything I want!”
The man took the papers and immediately left the dinner with his fiancée. The mother loudly blamed the fiancée, screaming that she was a bad influence on her son. She ignored his wedding five months later, as did the rest of his family. Early in November, however, the mother called her son to invite him and his new wife to Thanksgiving dinner, as if nothing had transpired between them over the past year.
Another woman received a series of disturbing letters in which her mother threatened to go to a lawyer and have the daughter brought up on criminal charges for defrauding the government. She claimed she had proof and she was just waiting for the “right time” to instruct her lawyer to proceed. The daughter spend weeks in a state of anxiety, not knowing what her mother was talking about, but fearing that the police would be knocking on her door at any time. It was not until she conferred with friends and sympathetic family members that she realized that a private attorney does not have the power to bring criminal charges against anyone, and she was then able to write it off as yet another random, unwarranted attack by her malignant narcissistic mother.
Yet another woman began spreading malicious rumours about her mother, calling her a liar, after reading her mother’s blog. The blog contained some ugly truths about her own mother (the young woman’s grandmother), a malignant narcissist who had disinherited her daughter in favour of her granddaughter, guaranteeing continued family discord. The young woman told the extended family about her mother’s blog, saying it was nothing but lies (although the majority of the entries were about events that had occurred before the young woman’s birth and about which she could have no first-hand knowledge) and suggesting that the family cut ties with her mother. Not only did the young woman cut off all communication with mother, so did many other members of the family, fearful they would be recognized in the blog and be shamed or held up to ridicule or public embarrassment by her revelations. Nobody, least of all the young woman, stopped to consider that if the blog was a lie, as she contended (and no real names were used), nobody could be recognized since the stories would not be true. It was five years before the writer of the blog learned why her family had shut her out.
A man sat with his soon-to-be ex-wife, signing papers. “Why have you been so angry with me?” she asked. “You wanted this divorce as much as I did.”
“Because you stole my thunder,” he answered.
“I don’t understand,” she replied.
“I was planning to go out to do some late Christmas shopping,” he told her. “And never come back.”
They had separated in June—he had been planning an exit guaranteed to make her and their 13-year-old son frantic and ruin Christmas for them—and he was planning it more than six months in advance! Why? Because the first Christmas they were married, when the boy was just an infant, she had bought a Christmas tree, ornaments and gifts and he was outraged that she would not return the purchases for a refund. He did not want to spend money on—or celebrate in any way—Christmas, he considered it a waste of money. She refused, saying he didn’t have to participate if he didn’t want to, but she was not going to allow him to ruin the holiday for their child. He had waited 13 years for his opportunity to retaliate.
Malignant narcissists are the personification of human evil. Well-known psychologist and author, Erich Fromm, coined the phrase “malignant narcissism” back in 1964 and characterized it as the “quintessence of evil.” Psychoanalyst Otto Kermberg claimed that the antisocial personality was essentially narcissistic and lacked morality, indicating that malignant narcissism includes a sadistic element, which serves to create a sadistic psychopath. In 1984, Kermberg proposed malignant narcissism as a psychiatric diagnosis. Writer and psychiatrist M. Scott Peck (People of the Lie) identified malignant narcissism as “the primary root of most human evil.” Peck further characterized it as “militant ignorance.”
According to Wikipedia and Richard N. Kocsis in Criminal Profiling, “malignant narcissism can be described as ‘an extreme form of antisocial personality disorder that is manifest in a person who is pathologically grandiose, lacking in conscience and behavioral regulation, and with characteristic demonstrations of joyful cruelty and sadism.’
“As a syndrome, it may include aspects of schizoid and narcissistic personality disorder, as well as paranoia — recent ‘contributions have confirmed the importance of malignant narcissism and the defense of projection’ in the latter syndrome, as well as ‘the patient's vulnerability to malignant narcissistic regression.’
Malignant narcissism can be comorbid with other psychological disorders such as borderline personality disorder, sociopathy, even psychopathy. Malignant narcissists, however, cannot be helped by therapy. According to Jacques Lacan in Écrits: a Selection, “the patient attempts to triumph over the analyst by destroying the analysis and himself or herself.” The patient cannot stand the idea that anyone other than his own lofty self has the power to free him from his condition which, all too frequently, the narcissist sees as being preferable—even superior—to being mundanely normal.
In What Makes a Narcissist Tick by Kathy Krajco, it is stated that while a personality disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis, in the law the narcissist’s behaviour is viewed as “premeditated and volitional.” She later opines “…it is quite likely that psychopathy (Antisocial Personality Disorder) and malignant narcissism are one and the same. [They] go through life doing their thing by laying waste to lives in other ways like malignant narcissists do, as “love thieves,” parasites, gold diggers, climbers, slanderers, verbal abusers, child abusers, wife beaters, pied pipers (i.e., religious and political messiahs), and the like…leaving poverty, destroyed careers, ruined potential, lost nest eggs, psychological injury and even suicide in their wake.” I can personally attest to poverty, ruined potential, psychological injury, and even near-suicide as the result of relationships with malignant narcissists. These people are just plain dangerous. They are evil.
Peck says that evil has to do with killing, it is that which is against life and liveliness. “When I say that evil has to do with killing, I do not mean to restrict myself to corporeal murder. Evil is also that which kills spirit. There are various essential attributes of life–particularly human life–such as sentience, mobility, awareness, growth, autonomy, will. It is possible to kill or attempt to kill one of these attributes without actually destroying the body.” Emotional abuse, manipulating and controlling another person, denying them autonomy and freedom: these acts, common to narcissists of all stripes, are acts of evil.
Evil, however (according to Peck) is not so much the sin itself but the refusal to acknowledge the sin, to admit you were wrong and seek to make amends. So while any person may do something that hurts another, like participating in the bullying of a co-worker, for example, the truly evil are those who refuse to acknowledge their wrong-doing. This is the difference between having a conscience, knowing remorse, and the narcissistic lack of conscience, even going so far as to blame the victim for his feeling hurt: “…he was asking for it, wearing those pink socks with yellow pants, dressing like a geek—we just gave him what he had coming…”
Malignant narcissists take it one step further: instead of waiting for an opportunity to ride someone, they make their own opportunities. They stalk, cyberstalk, harass, bully, and even plot against their targets for extended periods of time. There is nothing too low for them to stoop to, no behaviour too extreme for them as they pursue their goal of power and dominion over those around them. A malignant narcissist will do anything she thinks she can get away with in order to get what she wants. There is nothing they will not do to get their way, to create ways to get gratitude and admiration from others, to punish those who thwart them. From intentionally digging at someone’s emotional tender spots to stealing their children, to keeping a terminally ill man home until he collapses on the way to the bathroom and breaks a bone, then concealing both his illness and death from an adoring daughter (who didn’t so much adore the narcissistic mother), these people have no boundaries, no sense of shame, no limits to what they are willing to do to get what they want.
Malignant narcissists: they are the evil that walks among us.