Author Topic: essence of npd vs malignant narcissism vs pyschopathic vs borderline aLAsamSITE  (Read 5038 times)


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How Is Malignant Narcissism Different from NPD?

Otto Kernberg MD, a legendary thought leader in the study of personality disorders, originated the term "malignant narcissism" to describe a syndrome of narcissism that went beyond Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Malignant narcissism is like NPD on pathological steroids, manifesting additional antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-syntonic aggression. Kernberg believed that malignant narcissism was part of a spectrum of narcissistic behavior; ranging from NPD, at the low end, to malignant narcissism, and with psychopathy representing the high end of narcissistic severity.

Spectrum of Narcissism

Psychopaths can almost be thought of as emotionally disabled in that they appear to experience a very limited range of emotion. They know the difference between what society considers “right” and “wrong,” but do not experience, and cannot empathize with, the feelings of suffering, remorse, elation and love that are normally part of the human experience.

Kernberg differentiated psychopathy from malignant narcissism based on his assessment that psychopaths are so resistant to external influences that they are unlikely to internalize even the values of the "aggressor." Psychopaths are unable to emotionally identify with others. In contrast, he believed narcissists to have the capacity to identify with and admire powerful people, “which permits at least some loyalty and good object relations to be internalized." However, all three levels of narcissistic behavior pathology share the common threads of extreme self-absorption and insensitivity that often result in a trail of victims--emotional wreckage left in the narcissist’s wake (Kernberg 2003, 2004).

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has several conspicuous similarities, but unlike NPD is characterized by self-injury, whereas narcissists are rarely physically self-injurious. The need for constant attention is also found in Histrionic Personality Disorder, but HPD and BPD are both relationship oriented, whereas NPD is characterized by avoidance of intimacy. Psychopathy, or Antisocial Personality Disorder, is differentiated from NPD by psychopaths' willingness to use physical violence, whereas narcissists rarely commit crimes (Vaknin, 1999-2007).