If you go looking for the most complicated thing in this world, I can bet that it would be relationships. There is nothing more complicated in this world than human relationships. It is like this intricate tapestry in which one wrong placement of thread can lead to the entire domino crumbing over. This beautiful and colorful tapestry also has one dark shadow over it. This is the malignant narcissist. The word narcissist itself implies a self-centered attitude. Such people have an inflated sense of self and think highly of themselves. However, when malignant is applied as a prefix, the situation changes. The tapestry looks like a bad omen when such a person makes their way into your seemingly happy life.
It is crucial that you understand if you have put your faith and trust in a malignant narcissist. This will help you protect yourself from any potential dangers that may have been lurking in the shadows of the tapestry.
In this article, we will focus on understanding who is a malignant narcissist, how to identify them, and what warning signs you must pay heed to. You will gain an understanding of the red flags of narcissism and be able to identify if you are facing manipulation, control, and exploitation.
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Who is a malignant narcissist?
To understand malignant narcissism, you will have to dive deep into understanding a personality disorder that not only has narcissistic traits but is also accompanied by a malevolent steak. Malignant narcissists are not placed in the personality disorders spectrum. This is because such individuals express traits and characteristics that are different from other personality disorders (less harmful).
At the core of a malignant narcissist
At the core of the malignant narcissist is an absolute lack of empathy. Lack of empathy is a hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder. But there is one factor that sets a malignant narcissist apart from a narcissist. This is the absence of empathy along with the presence of sadistic tendencies. A normal narcissist wants admiration and attention. However, a malignant narcissist receives pleasure by causing others pain. They feel happy when they see others suffer. The more the other person suffers, the more these people feel pleasure.
Another trait that is commonly seen in malignant narcissists is grandiosity and a high sense of self-importance. Their magnified sense of self-worth acts as a shield and protects them from a vulnerable and fragile core. Their grandiosity also exists with an insatiable need for validation and admiration which in turn creates a constant hunger for mom which is never satisfied.
One other factor about malignant narcissists that you should be aware of is the manipulative behavior that often is a part of this personality type. Such people are experts at gaslighting and distorting reality to bring down the confidence of the other person. It is like second nature for these people to project their blame on others. They are also experts at deflecting their responsibility onto others and creating confusion in their victims.
When you learn about malignant narcissism and malignant narcissism, you are equipping yourself with all the tools you will need to identify these traits in the people you meet. What you understand in this blog post today will serve as a protective shield allowing you to better navigate your relationships and take proper proactive steps to protect your mental and emotional well-being from the devastating effect that a malignant narcissist can have on your mental and emotional well-being.
Red flags when dealing with a malignant narcissist
As I mentioned at the start of this article, relationships are one of the most complicated things in this world. None of us are perfect at analyzing others. We all have faults and tend to ignore red flags when it comes to relationships. However, when dealing with a malignant narcissist, you must place your attention on identifying if there are any red flags. If you spot signs of unhealthy behavioral traits, get out and protect yourself from the psychological and emotional manipulation baggage that accompanies such relationships.
Malignant narcissistd are experts at emotional manipulation
Narcissists are amazing at emotionally manipulating others. However, malignant narcissists are experts at distorting your reality itself. They will make you question your beliefs, feelings, and reality. They will also thoroughly and systematically undermine your confidence in yourself so that you start to question your own beliefs and thoughts. You will constantly second-guess yourself in their presence and feel like you are going insane.
Malignant narcissists display exploitive behavior
Malignant narcissists love to see others suffer and in pain. They have no conscience and feel no remorse for their actions. Their only concern is themselves. If they have to hurt someone else to get what they want, then so be it. They not only feel indifferent toward other’s pain, but they also rejoice and derive a feeling of self-satisfaction from it.
A feeling of power and entitlement propels such people. They feel that other’s opinions do not matter and show a disregard towards anyone’s feelings but their own. They are always ready to exploit anyone and everyone for their own gain.
The first sign of poor relationship dynamics is that malignant narcissists love and crave power. They try to manipulate everyone and exert power over others. They will do anything to stay in control, and be the center of attention.
If your loved one is trying to isolate you from your family, it is a huge red flag and must never be ignored. If you notice your partner or loved one attempting to remove you from your loved ones and support system, do not think of this as jealousy or possessiveness. This is a clear red flag. They engage in such behavior to gain control over their victims. If your external support is gone, you will have only the malignant narcissist to depend upon. This is exactly what they want. This will try to remove everything that may pose a threat to their dominance.
As I mentioned before one of the hallmark traits of a malignant narcissist is that they derive pleasure from other’s pain. They love to cause others harm and then watch them suffer. This streak of sadism distinguishes the malignant narcissist from a normal narcissist.
Malignant narcissists cannot foster genuine connections
For malignant narcissists, forming genuine connections is very difficult. To have a deep connection they need to think about the other person. However, this is impossible for the malignant narcissist. Thus, their relationships turn out to be extremely superficial and serve as a means to an end rather than a proper and genuine connection.
Manipulative behavioral traits
When a malignant narcissist is confronted with their negative aspects and misdeeds, they tend to redirect the blame onto others. They are incapable of accepting responsibility for any misdeeds or wrongdoings. They refuse to accept the blame and blame everyone else but themselves.
The first and foremost step in protecting yourself from a malignant narcissist is to recognize the red flags that are probably right in front of you. Stay sharp and vigilant. Learn to have faith in your feelings and instincts. If you feel something is amiss, do not brush it away till you have proof that what you felt or thought was incorrect.
The malignant narcissist’s impact on relationships
Embarking on a relationship with a malignant narcissist is like digging an unending well for yourself. You will have to face emotional turmoil and psychological manipulations. Those who have been in a relationship with malignant narcissists have experienced profound and lasting effects that were both mentally and emotionally debilitating on the person. Thus, understanding the impact such a relationship can have on you is crucial.
You never know what the day will bring when you are in a relationship with a malignant narcissist. It’s like constantly navigating through an unpredictable emotional landscape. They have sudden mood swings, use every tactic in the book of manipulation, and create a constant upheaval of emotional trauma for their victims.
Devaluation and disregard
If you are in a relationship with a malignant narcissist, you will constantly be made to feel worthless no matter how hard you try to keep the said person happy. They will constantly devalue you making you feel worthless and dispersible. This constant emotional trauma leaves lifelong scars on the self-esteem of the person which is very hard to overcome.
Struggles with mental health
The constant abuse you suffer from a malignant narcissist can lead to the development of depression and anxiety in the victims. The invalidation you have to go through regularly takes a huge toll on your well-being. Anxiety and depression do not develop in a day. They creep up on you unnoticed and require you to put in a lot of hard work to recover from this.
Another mental health issue you may face if you are in a relationship with a malignant narcissist is post-traumatic stress disorder. The constant trauma leads to the formation of PTSD. Such people experience flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance as a result of their scarred past
Malignant narcisssist erodes your self-esteem
Compliments boost our self-esteem while belittling reduces it. When in a relationship, what your partner thinks about you is crucial. However, when you are in a relationship with a malignant narcissist, they will do everything in their power from gaslighting to constant manipulations to make sure you lose all your self-confidence. It’s hard for a strong individual too to keep going under these circumstances. They start to question their own abilities and values.
The technique of isolating the victims from their friends and family helps the malignant narcissist become the sole person to turn to for the victim. Isolated and away from their loved ones, the victims start to believe the false statements that the malignant narcissist feeds them about themselves. This in turn further allows the narcissist to gain and establish control over the victim while the victim starts to loose the ability to protest or even visualise life outside the relationship.
Whatever the narcissist says is right. They will go to any lengths to make sure the victim believes them. They will gaslight, create doubt, and make the victim question their reality till they agree that what the narcissist said was right. This tendency of the malignant narcissist to pose thier own reality on the victim creates confusion in the victim’s mind. They start to feel powerless and question their own perceptions.
The narcissists tend to project their own insecurities onto the victims. They keep going with this and do not stop unless their victims start to internalize false ideology and beliefs about themselves. This further compromises their mental health and well being.
Inability to form meaningful relationships
The constant hit on the self-esteem. gaslighting, manipulation and betrayal such people experience in a relationship with a malignant narcissist leaves them incapable of trusting anyone else. This severely impairs their ability to find someone else to form a relationship with. They are constantly afraid that they will undergo a repetition of the emotional abuse they endured in the past.
Since malignant narcissist openly and constantly disregard boundaries, this makes it very hard for their victims to establish healthy and meaningful boundaries in future relationships which in turn leads to a cycle of toxicity.
Coping strategies for dealing with a malignant narcissist
If you are in a relationship with a malignant narcissist, you are probably feeling emotionally and mentally drained. Coping with their constantly manipulative and toxic behavior is not easy. However, it is not impossible either. If you properly strategize along with adding priorities like emotional well being and self-care, you will be able to cope. Here are some of the coping strategies that can be very handy and helpful if you are dealing or are in a relationship with a malignant narcissist:
Establish clear boundaries
Its time you prioritize yourself. Start with placing and enforcing clear boundaries. Since malignant narcissists most often tend to disregard any respect for boundaries, you should clearly communicate and let them know where is the limit. Stand firm on your decision to reinforce and maintain them.
Be careful and watch out for manipulation tactics . Malignant narcissists will make use of these to try to breach the boundaries you have put in place. When you start to recognize the signs, you know what’s coming and are better equipped to handle the upcoming crisis.
Get professional help.
Opting for therapy is a great first step to learning to deal with a malignant narcissist and coping with the associated trauma. You can either opt for individual or group therapy. However, if you have never been to therapy before, I’d suggest you start with individual therapy and eventually go for group sessions. When you engage in individual therapy, you gain a lot of support and insight into how to cope with the emotional effect the relationship has had on you. Your mental health therapist will tell you how to set boundaries and help you work on your coping methods.
Boost your knowledge
Another crucial thing you can engage in is learning and enhancing your knowledge to understand narcissistic personality disorder further and in more detail. The more knowledge you accumulate, the better you understand the problem. This understanding can be a huge help in developing proper coping mechanisms.
Develop a support system
We all have those people who are always there when we need them. Focus and develop a good support system comprising of friends, family loved ones, etc. who can help you boost your emotional health and not let you fall off the edge. You can keep them in the loop about your progress and they will understand and push you to get through your challenges. Their validation will go a long way in helping you develop a coping strategy to deal with a malignant narcissist.
If you don’t have friends and family whom you on lean on, fear not! There are other ways to get through this problem. Join a group therapy session of like-minded individuals who are dealing with similar problems as yours. This way you can share your experiences with others and gain insights, tips, and tricks into how others may be managing similar problems.
Keeping emotional distance
A malignant narcissist feeds off your emotions. If you are sad, they are happy. If you are depressed, they are ecstatic. Therefore giving the narcissist power over your emotions is not worth it. You must understand that their behavior is a reflection of their problems and issues and has nothing to do with you. Do not let them define your worth. Detech yourself emotionally from such people so you can create a barrier that will protect you from emotional manipulation.
Regulate your emotions
Practice regulating your own emotions. Many emotion regulation techniques can be employed to help you manage the anxiety and stress that accompany dealing with a malignant narcissist. You can opt for meditation, mindfulness or deep-breathing exercises that can help you get your emotions under balance.
Document the incidents
When dealing with malignant narcissists you must understand that they may go to extreme lengths to make you question yourself. Therefore, document everything. Every instance of blackmail, manipulation, gaslighting or any other abusive behavior must be recorded. This will help you maintain emotional clarity when everything seems to be going sideways and nothing works in your favor.
If any legal documents are involved, document the instance as soon as possible. In case there is a threat of violence, physical abuse, or property damage, these documents will be handy in case you decide to opt for legal intervention.
Work towards your independence
If your circumstances permit, start working on developing an escape plan. Focus on formulating a strategic escape. You may have to get legal advice from lawyers, getyour friends and family involved, start saving money without letting the narcissist know and focus on putting one foot infront of the other as you sow the seeds of independence. Remember, it gets easier after the first step. Just take that step.
Start to focus on yourself. Spend some time and energy towards personal development. Focus on developing new skills, pursue your hobbies and build a life outside of the toxic relationship. and start laying down the foundations for your independence, one brick at a time.
I talk about self-care a lot. However when you are dealing with energy and happiness vampires like malignant narcissists, self-care takes an even higher stance than normal. They will exhaust you mentally, drain you emotionally ‘and finally destroy your self-worth in your own eyes. To cope with the toxicity of surviving in such a relationship, you have to prioritise your own care before that of others. This will also help boost your emotional well-being.
Escaping from a malignant narcissist
Escaping from the clutches of a malignant narcissist is not easy. However, it is also not impossible. The escape is a transformative and courageous journey marked by the actions of self-discovery , high resilience and the journey towards a more empowered and healthy life. As you navigate through this path towards your freedom, focus on the following steps to build a better life for yourself and be free of toxicity.
Acknowledge the need for change
Step one is understanding the problem and deciding that things need to change. You must acknowledge that the relationship is detrimental towards your well-being. The first and foremost catalyst for change is acceptance.
Design an exit plan to escap from malignant narcissist
The next step is to develop a plan to leave the malignant narcissist. In case things are awful and there is a chance of physical harm, involve law-enforcement officials to ensure your own safety. Find a safe place for yourself which is out of the reach of the narcissist.
Get a lawyer involved if needed. They can help you understand your legal rights and options. This is especially crucial if there are legal entanglements or financial issues involved.
Build your own support system.
As I mentioned before, having your own support system is crucial. Without support , navigating the escape will be hard. If you did not have a support system till no w, work on developing one now. Their support and understanding will help you during the transition. If a support system of friends and family is not an option, then go for online or offline group therapy sessions.
Establish financial independence
Develop a financial plan to gain independence. You may have to get a job, open a separate bank account or start to save from the money you get for spending on the house stuffs. You can also contact financial advisors for more help.
Make sure that the details of your freedom (whether it is personal or financial information) is kept secure and away from the malignant narcissist. If they get to know, they may try to sabotage your escape plan.
Pick the right moment to leave. Timing is everything when you are dealing with a malignant narcissist. Plan to leave when the narcissist is least likely to react in absolute rage or in an explosive manner. Make sure you have a safe place ready to go to once you get out.
Start reducing your communication with the narcissist as when when you work on your departure. Make sure you have clear boundaries in place and follow a limited-contact or limited contact approach.
Healing and rebuilding
Focus on your self-care. Your self-care is a primary factor when it comes to your emotional andphysical well-bring. Focus and engage in tasks that provide you relaxation, healing and joy.
Continue with therapy
Keep going for therapy. If you did not start therapy before you left the malignant narcissist, start now. Therapy will help you go through all the emotional aftermath of your relationship. Constant therapy will help you process your trauma and start rebuilding your self-image again .
Focus on personal growth.
Now, it’s time to focus on you. Embrace your personal growth and focus on acquiring new skills or hobbies, pursuing new courses, getting a new degree, or starting activities that allow you to boost your self-esteem and independence.
Start to reengage with your passions and interests that got repressed during the time of your toxic relationship. Use this time as a way to engage in self-discovery. It’s time to get your life back on track.
Learn from your experience
Focus on introspection. Take some time to reflect on everything you learned from your experiences. As and when you understand the dynamics of your past, you will be able to make better choices in your future.
Forgive yourself for your mistakes. The past is in the past. Is time to move on. However, always keep the lessons learned from your trauma in mind. Compassion is a part of healing and changing for the better.
A few final words about malignant narcissist
Escaping from a malignant narcissist is not an easy job. This journey of change and transformation needs courage, confidence, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to finally put your happiness first. Breaking out of such a toxic and tumultuous path is not only an act of freedom, but it is also a path toward self-preservation and perseverance.
In this article, I discussed ways to recognize you are with a malignant narcissist. How to cope with being with one, how to break free, and finally how to heal. If you found this blog post insightful, please subscribe to Guilt Free Mind. The subscription option is present in the sidebar. If you enjoy watching videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel of Guilt Free Mind so that YouTube notifies you every time a new video releases from the channel. In case you have any queries, put them down in the comment section. I will be happy to help.
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Frequently Asked Questions about malignant naricissist
Even though both of these are about personal gratification and indifference towards others, malignant narcissists are much worse than your garden variety narcissists. Malignant narcissists derive pleasure from the pain of others. They have anti-social behavior along with sadism and absence of empathy.
Most often malignant narcissists do not wish to change. Since they do not have an insight into their behavior and feel that they, do not need therapy, they do not understand when they are wrong. Thus, they do not feel the need to change.
The first thing you should focus on is establishing and maintaining clear boundaries. Limit your contact with the narcissist, seek support from your family and friends, and engage in therapeutic activities. These tasks will protect your emotional well-being. You should also start learning more about malignant narcissists so you can better protect yourself in the future.
Is it possible to co-parent with a malignant narcissist?
It can be very challenging to co-parent with a malignant narcissist. It is recommended that you establish parallel parenting so you can maintain minimal contact with the narcissist. If you have to contact the narcissist, focus on clear communication through the use of written means and getting legal professionals involved.
It takes time to build self-esteem. Get started on therapy as soon as possible. Engage in your hobbies, self-care and surround yourself with those who are positive, and lift you. Focus on your achievements and self-care1 so you can rediscover your identity.