Narcissists lack a mature conscience and are only restrained by the fear of being punished or having their reputations damaged. However, they will do something illegal, immoral, or violent if they believe that they can get away with it without being stopped or punished. Most narcissists truly don't feel responsible for their actions. They have convinced themselves that they are the victims of injustice, discrimination or prejudice.
The fundamental beliefs of the narcissist include:
- "Since I am so superior, I am entitled to special treatment and privileges."
- "I don't have to be bound by the rules that apply to other people."
- "If others don't respect my status, they should be punished."
- "Other people should satisfy my needs."
- "Other people should recognize how special I am."
- "Since I am so talented, people should go out of their way to promote my career."
- "No one's needs should interfere with my own."
The Violent Malignant Narcissist
Malignant narcissists are predators who hunt easy prey. Being a predator puts the narcissist in the class of psychopathology; in fact all psychopaths are narcissists. Serial bullies, serial adulterers, gold-diggers, pedophiliac priests, rapists, child molesters, terrorists and serial killers are all examples of malignant narcissists. They prey on others simply for ego gratification. They are able to violate the rights of others because they are incapable of feeling empathy for anyone else. They tend to view others as objects or tools, to further exploit for their sense of entitlement.
Most narcissists won't engage in violent crime; that would be far too risky for them. However, they are pros in mental cruelty towards virtually anyone; family members, employees, classmates, etc. They will cross the line into physical or sexual violence only when they think they can get away with it.
The violence-prone narcissist is often preoccupied by control issues. He has a strong need to control, if not dominate, his environment and those around him. Additionally, he usually has very poor impulse control. When he feels attacked, he will lash out verbally, non-verbally, and can become physically explosive. The narcissist is also obsessively vindictive. He is certain that his feelings and actions are justified. He may hold smoldering rage related to previous perceptions of rejection or victimization. People who are constantly bullied and tormented may finally reach the state of "I'm not going to take it anymore", such as was the case at Columbine. When you add all these factors together, you have a strong candidate for sociopathic violence.
NPD is legally classified as a character disorder, disputing its classification as a personality disorder by mental health professionals. Usually a defendant with a personality disorder can use that as a defense. However, US law classes NPD as a character disorder, which is no defense. This is because a narcissist's behavior is premeditated and volitional. The narcissist is able to tell right from wrong and to distinguish between good and evil. You don't get off on a mental plea when you know what you're doing is wrong. Lacking empathy, the narcissist is rarely remorseful.
There has been no real success in treating people with NPD. Those who commit the most heinous offenses are frequently repeat offenders (rapists, pedophiles, serial killers). There is no magic medicine to cure a personality disorder, and talk therapy isn't the answer with predators.
As a law enforcement officer you will deal with more than your share of people with NPD. From the know-it-all, "I don't take paper" beat partner; to the command climber who will steal your ideas while belittling you on your evaluation. From the DV suspect who claims she deserved it; to the traffic stop with the guy telling you to catch a real criminal; to the male shooter holding hostages after a dispute with his employer. Recognizing malignant narcissistic traits will help allow you to prepare yourself accordingly. Malignant narcissists should be considered as potentially dangerous.
If you are married to a malignant narcissist, I send my condolences.