Narcissism as natural self-love is essential to survival. It is what makes us value ourselves, and find purpose in life. Essentially, self-love is necessary for one's self-preservation. Everyone has some narcissistic traits, however being conceited, argumentative, or selfish doesn't mean you have a nasty personality disorder.
The DSM-IV-TR, a manual that mental health professionals use to diagnose mental disorders classifies Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as a psychological personality disorder. The disorder is characterized by grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. NPD is not mere "narcissism" in the usual sense of the word. To distinguish it from healthy self-love, the term "malignant narcissism" has been coined for NPD. Don't confuse NPD (malignant narcissism) with what people usually mean when they say someone is "narcissistic." Despite the superficial similarities, one is benign, the other is malignant. Malignant narcissism is a deeply perverted self-love. A malignant narcissist doesn't just revere himself; he demands others revere him as well. If the victim of the narcissist fails to revere him, he/she will invariably be subjected to emotional, mental or even physical abuse.
Malignant narcissists are everywhere. 1 to 3 of every 20 people you meet are malignant narcissists. 75% of the pathologically narcissistic are male. You can find them in law enforcement, politics, business, the clergy, medical professionals, and in post offices. The smart ones easily move up the food chain. They know when to brown nose and suck-up to get ahead and further their grandiose sense of themselves.
Malignant narcissists seek omnipotence and total control, and will attempt to achieve those goals by any means. They will defy those in authority, challenge them, and attempt to demean them. Narcissists cast themselves as victims, justifying all of their feelings and actions. They blame all of their shortcomings on perceived enemies.
Narcissists often have an underlying paranoia. They invariably have an inferiority complex. However, they believe that they must be seen as perfect, superior, bigger than life, or god-like. They don't want others to like them; they want others to obey, fear, or admire them. Malignant narcissists are frequently suicidal. They are contemptuous of others. Narcissists are extremely sensitive to personal criticism while being very critical of other people. They are characteristically mentally and emotionally cruel towards others, and can resort to violence.
The narcissist’s fundamental problem is that he lacks empathy. He simply won't take other people's feelings into account. Additionally, narcissists are intrinsically grandiose. Their jobs, friends, families, homes, and possessions aren't good enough for them; they deserve better. They truly feel entitled to whatever they can take. If there is nothing in it for the narcissist, don’t bother bringing it to his attention, he could care less. Narcissists are very sneaky and extraordinarily manipulative. They are best noted for their negative, pessimistic, cynical, doomsday outlook on life. They whine, gripe, complain, and criticize about virtually everyone or every thing relentlessly. They are notoriously sarcastic, while believing they are witty. Narcissists invariably contradict themselves, often in the same sentence. The narcissist is incapable of seeing that they have a problem, it is always the other person's problem, and that person must change. If you try to confront a narcissist about the way he is treating you, the unfailing response you will receive is "You just have to accept me the way I am." Yet, narcissists need relationships, relationships they can control, they hate to live alone.