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Malignant Narcissist: Toxic Personalities In The Real World (Part 3)

In part three of the "Toxic Personalities in the Real World” Phil in the Blanks podcast series, Dr. Phil examines the traits of a malignant narcissist.

“In my opinion, this is the most dangerous narcissist of all!” Dr. Phil says. “These are people that are cold, calculating -- but they can be very charming.”

This series addresses Narcissistic Personality Disorder; how to recognize it, establish boundaries, and how to coexist with those in your life who may have it with tools and guidelines that can help minimize damage to oneself and loved ones.


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A Rude Awakening

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Malignant narcissists can be highly manipulative, and they don't care who they hurt as long as they get their own way.

Other signs of malignant narcissism include:

  • Seeing the world in black-and-white terms, including seeing others as either friend or foe

  • Seeking to win at all costs and generally leaving a great amount of pain, frustration, and even heartache in their wake

  • Not caring about the pain they cause others—or may even enjoy it and experience it as empowering

  • Doing what it takes to prevent themselves from loss, inconvenience, or failing to get what they want in any situation

Signs and Symptoms

While not every person who displays narcissistic traits is a classic "narcissist" in the sense that they have NPD, even those who fail to meet the criteria for diagnosis can create a lot of harm with the traits they do possess.

Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary, but the following are often characteristic in malignant narcissists:

  • Preoccupied with fantasies about beauty, brilliance, success, and power

  • Unable to handle criticism

  • Tendency to lash out if they feel slighted

  • Likely to take advantage of others to get what they want

  • Overly concerned about their appearance

  • The expectation of being treated as superior

  • Lack of empathy for others

  • Inflated sense of self and inability to self-regulate

  • Having no remorse for hurting others and no interest in apologizing unless it benefits them

  • Having an attitude of deserving the best of everything

  • Tendency to monopolize conversations and/or mistreat those who they perceive as inferior

  • Hidden insecurity and a weak sense of self

  • Tendency to blame others for their own bad behavior Source: Verywellmind


Narcissistic personality disorder: a pattern of need for admiration and lack of empathy for others. A person with narcissistic personality disorder may have a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, take advantage of others or lack empathy.

There are no medications specifically to treat personality disorders. However, medication, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication or mood stabilizing medication, may be helpful in treating some symptoms. More severe or long lasting symptoms may require a team approach involving a primary care doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, social worker and family members.

In addition to actively participating in a treatment plan, some self-care and coping strategies can be helpful for people with personality disorders.

  • Learn about the condition. Knowledge and understanding can help empower and motivate.

  • Get active. Physical activity and exercise can help manage many symptoms, such as depression, stress and anxiety.

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and illegal drugs can worsen symptoms or interact with medications.

  • Get routine medical care. Don’t neglect checkups or regular care from your family doctor.

  • Join a support group of others with personality disorders.

  • Write in a journal to express your emotions.

  • Try relaxation and stress management techniques such as yoga and meditation.

  • Stay connected with family and friends; avoid becoming isolated.

Source: Adapted from Mayo Clinic, Personality Disorders

Family members can be important in an individual’s recovery and can work with the individual’s health care provider on the most effective ways to help and support. But having a family member with a personality disorder can also be distressing and stressful. Family members may benefit from talking with a mental health provider who can provide help coping with difficulties.


  1. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association. (2013).

  2. Lenzenweger MF, Lane MC, Loranger AW, Kessler RC. 2007. DSM-IV personality disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry, 62(6), 553-564.


You are not alone!

Are YOU Abused? Stalked? Harassed? Victimized? Confused and Frightened? Were you brought up by a Narcissistic or Psychopathic Parent? Married to a Narcissist or a Psychopath - or Divorcing One? Afraid your children will turn out to be narcissists or psychopaths? Want to cope with this pernicious, baffling condition?

OR: Are You a Narcissist or a Psychopath - or suspect that You may be one ...

This book will teach you how to Cope, Survive, and Protect Your Loved Ones!

"Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited" is based on correspondence since 1996 with hundreds of people diagnosed with Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders (narcissists and psychopaths) and with thousands of their suffering family members, friends, therapists, and colleagues.

The first ever book about narcissistic abuse, Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited offers a detailed, first hand account of what it is like to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It contains new insights and an organized methodological framework. The first part of the book comprises more than 100 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding relationships with abusive narcissists and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

What is a personality disorder? When the personality is rigid to the point of being unable to change in reaction to changing circumstances - we say that it is disordered. Such a person takes behavioral, emotional, and cognitive cues exclusively from others. His inner world is, so to speak, vacated. His True Self is dilapidated and dysfunctional. Instead he has a tyrannical and delusional False Self. Such a person is incapable of loving and of living. He cannot love others because he cannot love himself. He loves his reflection, his surrogate self. And he is incapable of living because life is a struggle towards, a striving, a drive at something. In other words: life is change. He who cannot change cannot live.

The narcissist is an actor in a monodrama, yet forced to remain behind the scenes. The scenes take center stage, instead. The Narcissist does not cater at all to his own needs. Contrary to his reputation, the Narcissist does not "love" himself in any true sense of the word.

He feeds off other people, who hurl back at him an image that he projects to them. This is their sole function in his world: to reflect, to admire, to applaud, to detest - in a word, to assure him that he exists. Otherwise, the narcissist feels, they have no right to tax his time, energy, or emotions.

The posting of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Re-Visited on the Web has elicited a flood of excited, sad and heart rending responses, mostly from victims of Narcissists but also from people suffering from NPD. This is a true picture of the resulting correspondence with them.

This book is not intended to please or to entertain. NPD is a pernicious, vile and tortuous disease, which affects not only the Narcissist. It infects and forever changes people who are in daily contact with the Narcissist. In other words: it is contagious. It is my contention that Narcissism is the mental epidemic of the twentieth century, a plague to be fought by all means.

This tome is my contribution to minimizing the damages of this disorder.

This book explores the damaging effects of personality disorders in corporate leaders, particularly in regard to organizational variables including employee productivity, motivation, well-being, retention, and ultimately, the organization’s bottom line. While helping employees recognize and understand the overt and covert characteristics of malignant narcissism, Narcissism at Work offers solutions and coping strategies vital for employees, industrial psychologists, human resource professionals, and organizational leaders in order to optimize business functions and increase employee well-being.

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Apr 23

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Kari Rolfe
Kari Rolfe
Jan 30, 2022

I'm nearly 63. It seems my generation had a lower percentage of people who were abusive from a NPD background. I'm sure growing up in homes with both parents parenting us generally helped us learn to respect each other and work hard. What counts as comedy on TV is disguised disrespect and that constant signal to our children and grandchildren, along with such a high degree of absent fathers and/or mothers working outside of the home, as children are being left on their own too much without discipline, brought up a plethora of entitled people now in their late thirties and younger. It seems that where baby-boomers ran about 5% with NPD, now that number is much higher in younge…


Both my parents were diagnosed by a Professor of Psychiatry as having NPD. The male parent was the malignant kind, the female just the garden variety kind (she'd hate that dismissive characterization😂 but, ya).

Thank you for the many validating things you said in this series! Your words were so healing.💖 You took the words out of my mouth when you said they suck the life out of you. (You even know that!) You couldn't be more right about your advice to set boundaries. That, boundaries, was the key to my survival, although it was not painless - they made sure of that!

The truth is that my life really didn't start until they finally died when I was in…


Thanks to your podcast, I was immediately aware that we were dealing with a malignant narcissist. I had suspension we were dealing with a narcissist but you made it very clear this person was a malignant one. This will help us to strategize the safest plan to disentangle ourselves from them.


Nov 19, 2021

Dr Phil- thank you for posting this. I would love if you could do a podcast on co-parenting with a narcissist. I have 4 boys I am now trying to learn how to raise to not follow in their father's footsteps. He is a pretty heavy narcissist. Meaning, he has ran repeatedly- the last time telling my small children he was going to jail but in reality ran to Belize to hire prostitutes and gamble away thousands. 14 years I have wasted not ever knowing who I was truly married to. He has hired sex the whole time, embezzled thousands, stole, gambled, and lied about everything. And somehow made me feel it was all my fault. He isolated me 140…

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