Malignant Manipulators: Ticking Time Bombs

Malignant narcissists not only believe they are always right, they vindictively go out on a limb to prove it.

The difference between someone within the normal range of the narcissistic personality disorder and someone at the extreme end of the spectrum is not always self-evident, as the disparity lies within. For example, take Max, a real estate developer. In his dog-eat-dog world, looking out for Number one was what life was all about. To him, most deals were win-or-lose propositions, people were either winners or losers and if you didn’t take advantage of others, others would take advantage of you. Pulling a fast one was standard business practice, as long as you didn’t get caught.

Despite this dark worldview, Max had a charming exterior and liked creating a buzz. He told people what they wanted to hear, and used exaggeration and embellishment to impress others. When that didn’t work, he’d try a mix of lies, half-truths and obfuscation. For Max, honouring agreements was relative, and a contract was nothing more than the beginning of a discussion. He saw himself as having a natural sense for how to play people against each other and of being keenly perceptive of his adversaries’ Achilles heels. He had to be Machiavellian in the business world; acting otherwise meant being weak. And Max hated weakness.

This modus operandi had paid off. With a string of successful deals behind him, Max had a glamourous lifestyle: money, cars, homes and admiration. All his ex-wives had been very attractive.

And while there were “haters”, those who said he was vindictive, untrustworthy or unscrupulously manipulative, Max felt that his critics were blatantly unfair and envious of his talent.


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