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Otto Kernberg described malignant narcissism as a syndrome characterized by a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-syntonic aggression. Some also may find an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and a sense of importance (grandiosity). Pollock wrote: "The malignant narcissist is presented as pathologically grandiose, lacking in conscience and behavioral regulation with characteristic demonstrations of joyful cruelty and sadism."
Kernberg wrote that malignant narcissism can be differentiated from psychopathy because of the malignant narcissists' capacity to internalize "both aggressive and idealized superego precursors, leading to the idealization of the aggressive, sadistic features of the pathological grandiose self of these patients." According to Kernberg, the psychopaths' paranoid stance against external influences makes them unwilling to internalize even the values of the "aggressor", while malignant narcissists "have the capacity to admire powerful people, and can depend on sadistic and powerful but reliable parental images." Malignant narcissists, in contrast to psychopaths, are also said to be capable of developing "some identification with other powerful idealized figures as part of a cohesive 'gang' ... which permits at least some loyalty and good object relations to be internalized."
Malignant narcissism is a theoretical condition and is not recognized as a condition in formal diagnostic manuals. The closest formal condition is narcissistic personality disorder. If one were to compare the diagnostic checklists for NPD and psychopathy (DSM IV and Hare PCL:R), then narcissists lack the impulsivity and emotional shallowness of psychopaths.
- ^ Pollock, G. H. (1978), Process and affect, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59, 255–276.
- ^ Kernberg, O. F. (1994), The Psychotherapeutic Management of Psychopathic, Narcissistic, and Paranoid Transferences.
- ^ Gerberth, V., & Turco, R. (1997) Antisocial personality disorder, sexual sadism, malignanat narcissism, and serial murder. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 42, 49-60.
- ^ Turco, R. (2001) Child serial murder-psychodynamics: closely watched shadows, Journal of The American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 29(2), 331–338.
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Sadistic Personality Disorder
- Narcissism (psychology)
- Narcissistic injury
- Victory disease
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