If you have studied narcissistic personality disorder, you may have heard the term “malignant narcissism.” Malignant narcissism is not an actual psychiatric diagnosis—it is more of a proposed subtype of narcissistic personality disorder.
When studying personality disorders in general, it is important to keep in mind that they range from mild to severe, and sometimes they even border on psychosis. Not every antisocial person is a serial killer, and not every narcissistic person has traits of malignant narcissism.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th Ed., 2000) narcissistic personality disorder encompasses the following traits:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
- Belief that he/she is “special” and can only be understood by other high-status people
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement
- Exploits others
- Lacks empathy
- Is envious and believes others are envious of him/her
- Is arrogant and haughty
About 1% of the general population meet criteria for this disorder, but cases are steadily rising.