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Why Narcissists Are Dangerous

Updated on September 3, 2016

The danger factor of narcissistic personalities is something that perhaps does not get enough attention from experts. When we think of narcissistic abuse, we often think of mental or emotional abuse. However, there is often a very real physical danger from narcissists, especially if they feel that their "usual" tactics of emotional or mental abuse are not working anymore. Now of course, this is a general question and therefore the answer will be general as well. It is impossible to predict the behavior of human beings with any accuracy at all, so remember that every situation is a little different.

Are Narcissists Dangerous?

In a word, yes. They are. Narcissists tend to view people as either stepping stones on the path to what they want or as stumbling blocks in the way of it. Someone with this compartmentalized way of looking at things is very dangerous under the right (or wrong!) circumstances.

One of the biggest things that keeps us from hurting or killing others is empathy. We are able to understand emotionally how others feel and because of that, we don't want to hurt them. Narcissists generally don't have that ability. If they do, it is a dysfunctional and maladaptive type of empathy that is simply not strong enough to override their impulses and feelings.

The Process

A non-personality-disordered person's inner dialogue might go something like this:

"I really like this necklace my friend left lying out. I wish I could have it."

The desire for the necklace might lead to the impulse to take the necklace - even in the best of people, but morality and empathy keeps you from doing it. You might say to yourself:

"If I took it, my friend would be hurt because she trusts me" (empathy)

or simply:

"It's wrong to steal." (morality)

This inner dialogue does not occur in a personality-disordered person. They simply see the necklace, want the necklace and - if the opportunity exists - they will take the necklace, very like a child. There is no consideration of morality, because narcissists dictate their own morality as whatever they want to do is OK to do. If someone were to steal from the narcissist, the narcissist would be very angry, but they don't experience these conflicts when it is their own behavior. There is no conflict. It's "I see, I want, I take." The subject of their friend's hurt feelings or broken trust also generally would not come up. If it does, it is dismissed or justified because it is simply just not as important as the narcissist wanting the necklace. This would be accomplished by arguments such as:

"She'll never know." (dismissal)

or

"She doesn't need it anyway." (justification)

The only conflict that exists within the narcissist in this kind of situation is not morality or empathy, but fear. They don't fear hurting their friend, or the guilt of stealing. They fear being caught, being shamed. They fear being seen as a bad person. Nobody likes a thief and the narcissist knows that. Therefore, the problem is not with being a thief. The problem is with people knowing they are a thief.

There are times when the narcissist appears to exercise morality in these kinds of situations, but it is generally because they have their eyes on another, bigger goal, like "If I take the necklace and she finds out, she won't take me on that trip to Mexico with her and I really want to go." As you can see, it isn't morality that has won here, but a bigger desire: "If I satisfy my desire for this thing, my desire for the other thing will not be fulfilled and I want that thing more." The thought process of the narcissist is not, "Is it OK to do this?" but rather, "Can I succeed" or "Can I get away with doing this?" If the answer is yes, most of the time they will do it.

The Why

This is why they are dangerous, because they are not guided by a set of internal rules and standards but by whatever external monitors happen to be there. If there are no external monitors, they will do whatever they want. It has been said that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Narcissists have no integrity. Alone with a narcissist who feels no one will know or see what they are doing is a very dangerous place to be. They have no empathy, no morals, no integrity and no impulse control. A narcissist who has never been physically abusive is a narcissist who has either never felt they could get away with it or has never felt the need to be. It is not because they have some moral objection to hurting others. They don't. If they felt they could get away with it and it was necessary, they would do it. It is the same with murder. A narcissist who has never killed anyone is a narcissist who has either never felt they could get away with it or has never felt the need to kill anyone.

Prisons are full of narcissists. These are the people who feel they have the right to take things that don't belong to them, the right to assault others, the right to rape others, the right to kill others. They feel entitled to any- and everything they want just because they want it. This is because the dynamic of "want" and "need" is very confused in the mind of a narcissist. Everything they want, they think they need and if they need it, that means they are entitled to it. This means if you get in their way, you are denying them fulfillment of their needs. This is not an enviable place to be in, and it doesn't just involve material things.

For instance: love triangles. In a love triangle, there are three people. One person is the desired object and the other two people are competing to win this desired object. It's a volatile, emotional situation no matter who is involved. When narcissists are involved, it can turn into a deadly situation very quickly. Narcissists don't like competitions. They seek to control all situations because they feel they are perpetual losers and they can't take not just the shame of being the loser here, but the rejection it entails as well. They prefer to simply eliminate the competition and win by default. If this requires murder, then it requires murder. They have no moral quandaries over these kinds of things, only practical ones. "If he's gone, she will have no other choice but to be with me." The rage factor is largely at play here, which is what makes them murderous in the first place. The person in the middle of the love triangle belongs to the narcissist. How dare someone else think they can take it?! The "desired object" is not seen as a person with their own feelings, wants and identity but as an actual object that can be stolen, an object to be won. Someone trying to take something that belongs to the narcissist is in very grave danger. These people do not suffer loss well at all.

This is why so many narcissists are domestic batterers and murderers. The author has a theory that most - if not all - domestic abusers are narcissists, specifically Borderline Personalities because of the rage, the desperation, the delusional thinking and the inability to deal with rejection, as well as the fact that it is often only their romantic and personal relationships where they have problems. Borderline Personality Disordered narcissists often feel that without a partner to validate their existence, they don't exist at all. Losing the partner means losing themselves in a very real way. It is a threat to their very existence. Because they fear rejection and abandonment so much, they perceive it in everything, even when it isn't really there. They react to this perceived rejection and abandonment with rage, hysteria and violence in order to punish their partner and force the partner to do what the narcissist wants. This in turn causes the partner to reject the narcissist for real, which leads to more abuse. The domestic abuser narcissist is essentially saying, "What you want doesn't matter. What you need doesn't matter. Nothing about you matters. Only what I want matters, and what I want is for you to stay with me because I cannot face the shame of failure and the rejection of you leaving. You exist only to fulfill that need. If you don't give me what I want - what I need - I will hurt you. If that doesn't work, I will kill you." This is an example of the power and control narcissists believe they have over other people. That belief is absolutely essential to their lives. Everything is constructed around it. When it is threatened - such as by a partner leaving or attempting to end the relationship - this is perceived as life-threatening. This is why they feel murder is a justifiable response. When the loss of a partner equals the loss of the self or the identity, this is then interpreted into a "nothing left to lose" situation. If you add in the revenge and punishment factor that is a core element of all narcissism, you have a situation that has become extremely dangerous. Narcissists who have killed their partners are even known to react with surprise that people don't think it was OK for them to do that. They can't understand why they are in trouble when - in their opinion - they only did what anybody else would do in the same situation.

Conclusion

So to answer the question, yes. Narcissists are dangerous. Who else but a narcissist thinks that what they want is more important than someone's life?

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