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Sadistic Narcissism: A Different Edge to Narcissism

So far in the many articles written on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, we have concentrated on the typical form of this particular disorder.

But in rarer cases, some sufferers of this disorder have an added comorbidity: the addition of a sadistic streak in their personality.

This form of sadism is quite different from the DSM-IV-TR category for Sexual Sadism. The latter involves gaining sexual pleasure from the suffering of others. Where there exists a sadistic tendency coupled with narcissism, the sufferer of this form of illness carries all the tendencies and diagnostic qualities of narcissistic personality disorder, but in addition, has certain sadistic tendencies that interact in a repetitive and consistent way with their primary problem of narcissism. There is, however, no sexual pleasure derived from their actions.

The reason why sadism is present in some cases of NPD and not in others is unclear, but the reasons for the sadistic behavior are more obvious. A person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder displays a persona of confidence, self-esteem – even self- adoration. They demand the time, attention and respect of others and when they do not get it, they will go to extraordinary lengths to obtain it. They will reward those who do their bidding and reject any who don’t.

Manipulation is their middle name and they also have a voracious need for power. They obtain the latter by attempting to control others and are particularly good at looking out for suitable prey – usually their own children or those they perceive as weaker than themselves.

For those that the narcissist sees as a threat, the use of sadistic power comes into play, and they derive great pleasure from being the instigator of humiliating others or “messing with their minds” in any way that they can devise.

In the next article, we will look at a longitudinal (or lifetime) case study of Margo, who suffers from this particular from of narcissism.


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