Are Narcissists Evil? How to Find Out

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Every time someone asks me, “Are narcissists evil,” on my blog or podcast, I hesitate before answering. I know my emotions will cloud my judgment after having dealt with several narcissists over the course of my life.

Somehow, narcissists are misunderstood as terrible people to avoid. It’s unfair because the tendency to exploit, manipulate, or inflict harm on others depends on the type of narcissist you’re dealing with.

What I can say with some degree of certainty is not all narcissists are evil.

Luckily, there are some tell-tale traits, characteristics, and behaviors noticed in dark or evil narcissists. Below, I’ve explained some important facts about narcissists, the types of narcissists, and how to tell they are disruptive.

What is a Narcissist? 

A narcissist is someone who displays a pattern of unhealthy behavior and traits noticed in those diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

The disorder falls under ‘narcissism’, a term that means “excessive self-love” and dates back to Greek mythology. Narcissism was named after the Greek myth of Narcissus or the god of vanity. Narcissus became obsessed with his reflection in a pond. He kept staring at himself until he died.

Narcissism is a learned behavior and there’s more to it than excessive self-centeredness. Some narcissists possess personality traits that make good for toxic, dysfunctional relationships. Others behave in ways that are borderline evil.

The NINE traits, characteristics, or behavior observed in people with NPD are outlined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)They are generally as follows:

  1. High or inflated sense of self-importance (grandiosity)
  2. Excessive arrogance
  3. Huge sense of entitlement
  4. Envious and jealous and believe others are envious and jealous of them
  5. Constantly seek attention, admiration, and praise
  6. Believe they are special or possess special powers
  7. Exploitative and manipulative in interpersonal relationships
  8. Lack empathy or the ability to understand how their behavior affects others
  9. Persistently fantasize about unlimited success, power, or beauty

Narcissists display these traits in all relationships whether they involve a family member, plutonic friend, romantic partner, or boss.

On the surface, those traits may appear harmless. However, they can cross into the realm of evil or harmful behavior depending on what type of narcissist we’re talking about.

Types of Narcissists

Narcissism occurs on a spectrum, ranging from mild to severe. The more traits a person shows and the more frequent and intense they are, the more difficult it is to deal with them.

Some narcissists are scary, particularly those who exhibit traits that remind you of sociopaths or psychopaths. Here’s a quick glance at the 5 basic types of narcissists:

  • Overt narcissists: Also called exhibitionist narcissists, they are mostly arrogant, grandiose, attention-seeking types.
  • Covert narcissists: Also known as closeted and vulnerable narcissists, they rarely display grandiosity. However, they are grossly insecure and use passive-aggressive tactics such as silent treatment.
  • Antagonistic narcissists: These are dominating, argumentative, and combative, and enjoy putting down others to feel superior.
  • Communal narcissists: They help others, then publicize the gesture to get praise along with an ego boost.
  • Malignant narcissists: Malignant narcissists, also called pathological narcissists, are often highly aggressive, abusive, and disregard the well-being of others. Since they possess traits of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), these narcissists tend to cause more dysfunction in relationships than those with classic NPD.

Learn more about the 5 Basic Types of Narcissists (and How to Identify Them).

Effects of Dealing with a Narcissist

Dealing with a pathological narcissist changes you forever, and I’m speaking from experience. Researchers also found evidence to back this up.

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Evil narcissist hardly, if ever, feel guilty or regret their wrongdoings like the average human being.

They’ve found that those in relationships with dark narcissists often suffer emotional and psychological abuse. The evidence is seen in the following negative effects experienced during and after the relationship ends.

  • Shame
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble sleeping, anxiety, or depression
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Loss of trust
  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless

How to Tell Someone Is an Evil Narcissist

Of all the narcissists you might encounter in life, the ones to avoid are the malignant narcissists. The word ‘malignant’ means hostile, spiteful, dangerous, and harmful. These individuals are more likely to commit narcissistic abuse, perpetrate violence, or harm others in other ways.

Shockingly, they may come in the form of successful, intelligent, wealthy, and powerful people. To identify a malignant or evil narcissist, check to see if they do the following:

#1. Hurts Others Without Remorse

A strong lack of empathy is a hallmark sign of classic NPD, but dip a little evil into the mix and you’ll get a far different type of narcissist.

Unlike your standard narcissist, an evil narc really has no sense of remorse. In other words, they hardly, if ever, feel guilty or regret their wrongdoings like the average human being.

Not only do they prey on others, but they also don’t feel sorry, pitiful, or bad about themselves after hurting you. They’re unable to self-reflect and correct malignant behaviors.

What’s worse is, they never take responsibility for their actions. They insist on blaming everyone else for their mistakes, poor choices, bad decisions, and crimes.

#2. Do Things Malignant Narcissists Do

Not all narcissists are cruel or callous. However, you’ll notice a different level of narcissism in malignant narcissists. They exhibit all or most of the DSM-5 characteristics for NPD frequently and intensely. That’s according to Psychology Today.

Things don’t end there. They are hostile and vindictive. They also have trouble understanding right from wrong, causing them to easily hurt others without feeling guilty.

Narcissists with a malignant streak are also aggressive, manipulative, dishonest, abusive, and sadistic at times. They’re easily angered and ready to take revenge.

#3. Behaves Like A Sociopath

In addition to their narcissist traits, evil narcissists may exhibit signs of someone with antisocial personality disorder (APD).

While APD, also called sociopathy, is a completely different mental disorder, narcissists may display sociopathic behaviors that cause you to think they are dangerous.

To begin with, sociopathic narcissists are usually charming and endearing. At the same time, they’ll mistreat when no one is looking.

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Psychopathic narcissists have a severe lack of empathy, they easily disregard the rights of others and violate social norms.

You may have also noticed the narcissist in your life acting calculating, cunning, and manipulative. These traits make them the ultimate con artists. They easily scam and con others by using their charisma to hide their malevolent tendencies.

Sociopathic narcissists also disregard the safety of others. It’s easy for them to prey on vulnerable adults, kids, and even animals due to a high lack of empathy, remorse, shame, and guilt.

#4. Act Like A Psychopath

The infamous and charismatic serial killer, Ted Bundy, comes to mind every time I hear the word psychopath. Bundy was diagnosed with NPD and psychopathy. Psychopathy is a neuropsychiatric disorder and is quite different from NPD.

However, some narcissists behave in ways that cause others to mistake them for psychopaths. For example, a narcissist is operating on the dark side if they’re highly deficient in their emotional responses.

Since psychopathic narcissists have a severe lack of empathy, they easily disregard the rights of others and violate social norms. When it comes to remorse, they have zero and are unable to regulate their harmful behaviors.

According to a recent study, these psychopathic tendencies may lead a narcissist to engage in vicious or criminal conduct. Interestingly, their inability to control their behavior stems from trouble telling the difference between right and wrong.

#5. Ruthlessly Pursue What They Want

If you know a narcissist who will stop at nothing to get what they want, they just might fall in the ‘evil narcissist’ category. I remember quite distinctly when the renowned British author, Tom Bower, referred to Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex as a narcissist and a “ruthless social climber.” 

In his bestseller book, Revenge, Bower declared that Markle targeted and married Prince Harry to boost her social and financial status.

W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D. and Carolyn Crist agree that “narcissists love to climb social hierarchies so they can benefit from the prominence, respect, and influence that accompanies people at the top.” Campbell and Crist are the co-authors of The New Science of Narcissism. 

While nothing is wrong with wanting success, it’s how certain narcissists get there that makes them appear exploitative and ruthless.

What’s unsettling is that ruthless or malignant narcissists can look like normal, charismatic, friendly people. Behind that facade is someone who doesn’t care who they have to use, hurt, or trample on in the process of achieving their goals. In fact, they may use aggression, bullying tactics, abuse, and manipulation to climb the social ladder.

#6. Exploit and Discard People Like Objects

Narcissists on the extreme end of the spectrum are only able to build surface-level relationships. In fact, the relationship is created only to serve their needs.

Exploitation begins to take place soon after the love bombing phase ends. Their partner is usually emotionally attached or in love with the narcissist by that time.

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They’ll use clever gaslighting statements to make you question your sense of reality.

The exploitation is necessary in order for them to benefit from the relationship the way they planned and plotted. When it comes to diabolical narcissists, they’re in it for money, sex, social status, or social connections.

They’ll ruthlessly pursue these resources and then discard you. The narcissist discard typically occurs once they find a better source of narcissistic supply.  

#7. Intentionally Gaslight and Manipulate Others

Some narcissists gaslight and manipulate others intentionally. Usually, they are more willing to change these tendencies once you bring them to their attention. Behavioral change is unlikely if you’re dealing with a mean, calculating narcissist.

Some are so evil, they use the charm-to-disarm tactic to get you to let your guard down, so they can manipulate and hurt you.

Ill-intentioned narcissists manipulate people on purpose to get their needs met. They’ll hurt your feelings in a heartbeat, for example, by telling you no one else but them likes you.

Other times, they’ll use clever gaslighting statements to make you question your sense of reality. Exposure to these harmful tactics on a frequent or long-term basis is considered a type of emotional abuse called narcissistic abuse.

Final Thoughts on the Question “Are Narcissists Evil?”

I think it’s wholly unfair to paint all narcissists as deceitful and depraved.

The communal narcissist, for example, helps others even though the charitable acts are self-serving.

The overt narcissist seeks to be recognized and worshiped.

The vulnerable narcissist displays toxic behaviors due to chronic insecurity.

These characteristics do not equal evilness.

Evil narcissists, on the other hand, take vile behavior several notches up. A simple way to identify them is by checking to see if they display extreme NPD traits.

In addition, look for signs of malignant narcissism and antisocial personality disorder (sociopathy). The more signs or traits you notice, the more likely the person is a dark, dangerous, and abusive narcissist.

Ultimately, you must protect yourself, your loved ones, and your pets from this person. Read 5 Stages of Healing & Recovery After Narcissistic Abuse.

Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.

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