Narcissism and Cluster B: Evil hiding in plain sight

When the most common psychological defense mechanism — denial — hardens into an outer shell so impenetrable as to be worn like armor, you have yourself a clinical narcissist. They may not — and probably will never — be diagnosed; but unmistakably, you cannot seem to find empathy in them no matter how high or low you look.

They think of themselves as special; chosen; beyond the fray — rules do not generally apply to them, but oh do they ever to you. They tend to see the world in black and white terms, a Manichaean struggle with strict social hierarchies to abide by and perpetuate — a world of dominance and submission, with themselves at the top.

The higher on the Cluster B scale you go (with psychopathy at the top), the less empathy these individuals possess. Without empathy, there is no basis for forming a conscience. One could say the classic defining hallmark of this group of personality disorders is that the people exhibiting them have little to no conscience.

Cluster B includes:

  • Narcissism — the root trait of all the Cluster B personality disorders
  • Borderline
  • Histrionic
  • Sociopath
  • Psychopath — this is the scariest of the bunch. Gentle folks like Ted Bundy and Hannibal Lecter were almost certainly psychopathic — committing horrific and murderous crimes that have shocked generations in their brutality and stomach-churling details.

Common traits and behaviors:

  • Projection
  • Gaslighting
  • Stonewalling
  • Grandiosity; extremely high self-regard, often out of proportion to actual achievements
  • Splitting; black and white thinking
  • Malignant envy
  • Narcissistic rage
  • Sadism
  • Right-wing authoritarianism

See also: