“Narcissism, or self-absorption, takes many forms. Some are normal. Some are normal in childhood but not in adulthood. Some are more distinctly pathological than others.

The subject is as complex as it is important.

It is not the purpose of this book, however, to give a balanced view of the whole topic, so we will proceed immediately to that particular pathologic variant that Erich Fromm called ‘Malignant Narcissism’.

Malignant Narcissism is characterized by an un-submitted will.

All adults who are mentally healthy submit themselves one way or another to something higher than themselves, be it God or truth or love or some other ideal.

They do what God wants them to do rather than what they would desire.

“Thy will, not mine, be done” the God-submitted person says. They believe in what is true rather than what they would like to be true.

To a greater or lesser degree, all mentally healthy individuals submit themselves to the demands of their own conscience.

Not so the evil, however. In the conflict between their guilt and their will, it is the guilt that must go and the will that must win.

malignant narcissism

The reader will be struck by the extraordinary willfulness of evil people.

They are men and women of obviously strong will, determined to have their own way.

There is a remarkable power in the manner in which they attempt to control others.”
M Scott Peck The People of the Lie Simon and Schuster, Inc., copyright © 1983, pg. 77-78


By way of introduction for those of you who may not have heard of M Scott Peck, he was a psychiatrist and best selling author, most notably of the book ‘The Road Less Traveled'.

In his excellent book on malignant narcissism, People of the Lie, Peck answers the question ‘what is narcissism’ in one word:


Before you flinch at what seems an almost over-the-top description (or not, depending on your experiences with your narcissist), let’s take a look at what the definition of evil is:

From Strong's Concordance comes some interesting descriptions of the word:

Evil – ra’ (Strong’s #H7451)bad, evil; disagreeable, malignant; unpleasant,(giving pain, unhappiness, misery); displeasing; (hurtful); unkind (vicious in disposition).

Or take a look at The American Heritage Dictionary’s definition:

‘Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful’, ‘Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction’."evil."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004

people of the lie

From Noah Webster’s dictionary, we find the description of evil as “Anything which impairs the happiness of a being or deprives a being of any good; anything which causes suffering of any kind to sentient beings; injury; mischief; harm; - opposed to good.”
Webster's Dictionary

‘Opposed to good’, ‘destruction’, ‘giving pain, unhappiness, misery’ are terms to keep in mind as we go further into discussion about malignant narcissism.

Peck explains that it is not the sins of these people that lead to the label of evil (despite our feelings to the contrary at times) – because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) – but rather it is the ‘subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.'
M Scott Peck The People of the Lie Simon and Schuster, Inc., copyright © 1983, pg. 69


Let’s face it: the longer we have lived the more likely it is that we have ‘given pain, unhappiness or misery’ at some time in our lives to someone, despite our best intentions.

We have all done evil.

But notice what M Scott Peck points out to us: that the combined and consistent sins of malignant narcissism and the ‘refusal to acknowledge it’ is what makes it evil, as opposed to having done evil.

In other words, we see a pattern of behavior – which is what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:20 as ‘their fruits’. We not only see a pattern of behavior and attitude, but also one of unrepentance.

examine the fruits

This is how we will know them.

By the way, just so we’re clear on the definition of sin, here is Noah Webster again:

1. Transgression of the law of God; disobedience of the divine command; any violation of God’s will, either in purpose or conduct; moral deficiency in the character; iniquity…

2. To violate human rights, law or propriety; to commit an offense; to trespass; to transgress.
Webster's Dictionary

Most likely we can see for ourselves in these simple definitions that we have all, absolutely, at one time or another, sinned and fallen short.

Unfortunately, for the narcissist – the people of the lie – their self-perception will not allow this realization, at least not consciously.


A note about the term ‘malignant narcissism’: in this discussion, the term will be used frequently. Here is a short excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Malignant narcissism is a syndrome consisting of a cross breed of the narcissistic personality disorder, the antisocial personality disorder, as well as paranoid traits. The malignant narcissist differs from narcissistic personality disorder in that the malignant narcissist derives higher levels of psychological gratification from accomplishments over time (thus worsening the disorder). Because the malignant narcissist becomes more involved in this psychological gratification, they are apt to develop the antisocial, the paranoid, and the schizoid personality disorders. The term malignant is added to the term narcissist to indicate that individuals with this disorder tend to worsen in their impulse controls and desires over time."

If your narcissist does not yet display signs of being a psychopath (today’s ‘antisocial personality disorder’), the adjective ‘malignant’ still applies to his or her behavior.

If you will recall, Strong’s definition of the word ‘evil’ included the term ‘malignant’ which is defined as:

disposed to cause harm, suffering, or distress deliberately; feeling or showing ill will or hatred.
American Psychological Association (APA):malignant. (n.d.). dictionary.com Unabridged

Let's continue with our discussion of malignant narcissism, part two.

back to Narcissistic Personality Inventory from malignant narcissism
back to Narcissistic Personality Disorder
back to Jezebel Spirit intro