Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


The Narcissist as a "Criminal"

The narcissist is a victimizer.

Descriptive terms used while talking about criminals refer to their being aggressive, deceitful, and violating laws. In the mental health field, diagnostic labels change, but human nature remains the same. In the past, psychopathy, sociopathy, and antisocial personality disorder have often been used interchangeably. These terms refer to a person who lacks empathy and demonstrates “a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others” (see the DSM-5 description of antisocial personality disorder).* Such individuals are criminals—victimizers who seldom experience remorse.

People associate the term “narcissist” with an individual who holds a grandiose opinion of himself, has an insatiable need for admiration, and blames others rather than acknowledge personal shortcomings.

People with a narcissistic personality disorder are “criminals” even if they do not ever get arrested. Their “sense of entitlement,” “unreasonable expectations” and “lack of sensitivity to the rules of others” result in injury to others. They manipulate and exploit people in their unceasing efforts to build themselves up. Their “contemptuous” and “impatient” behavior has a negative impact on others. The people who suffer the most are those closest to them. Spouses, children, and work colleagues are ground down daily. In order to peacefully coexist, they must try to satisfy the narcissist's insatiable psychological needs. A person who does not meet the expectations of the narcissist likely will have a very unpleasant encounter. Anyone may become a victim — a waiter, a sales lady, a receptionist — and bear the brunt of his disdain, condescension, and contempt.

A psychologist described his narcissistic client in the following manner: “This is a man who is used to doing what he wants regardless of someone else’s opinion or the impact of his behavior on others. He acknowledges he goes for the jugular. He needs to be in control of all situations and will often do what he wants in blatant disregard of rules, others’ perceptions, or the impact of his behavior on others. He challenges, threatens, or cajoles to achieve his ends.”

Never underestimate the damage that such a person can do. A narcissist is a criminal who leaves a trail of injury behind.

*Words in quotes are from the American Psychiatric Association
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.”