Narcissists are Addicted to the High They Get from Harming Others

The title sentence of this post is taken from a post by Kathy Krajco, to whom many victims of narcissists owe a huge thanks. Kathy is no longer with us, but her blog remains, thankfully. Kathy’s blog was and still is entitled “What Makes Narcissists Tick?” Also, “Narc-Attack.” Some of the links on her blog are unfortunately broken, but much of it remains — enough to do a lot of good for many people. Below is a post that helps normal people understand Narcissists and why they do what they do. It discusses gradations of pathology, and the “continuum theory” in comparison to a psychopath.

When I think back to the Narcissists in my life, there are 3-4 — and perhaps 2-3 more — who were in my life. One is dead (female: my mother), two I keep at bay as much as possible (both males: ex husband and brother), and the rest are gone (No Contact… friendship/relationship done — all females except one).

The post by Kathy Krajco helps explain to me why these people do what they do. It describes the quality of an on/off sexual affair that I had for 2-1/2 years that had a very addictive quality to it. Both of us wanted to let go at different times (always one or the other of us), but the difference is that this person — an attractive, charismatic and very narcissistic male with a tremendous amount of pride, low self-esteem and guilt — was verbally abusive. I never could get through to this person that he needed to be cordial and kind in public. He never could even just grasp the concept, let alone behave properly.

The abuse was his way of showing other people that he wasn’t in love with me and that it wasn’t a committed or a real relationship, even though everyone knew we were involved over a period of many months (over 30). It was only after a process of intense journaling for several months that I understood I was not actually in love with this person and that I didn’t actually want him to fall in love with me. We had next to nothing in common. We shared no interests except dancing. I did not like his musical taste, his lifestyle, his “community,” his drug use and drug-dealing, his driving need to be “well-connected” and his need to be the king of his dubious community. 

Sex is an extremely powerful thing, especially between two people with unresolved issues who aren’t really improving on those fundamental issues. Even after I broke it off and moved 430 miles away I would hear from this person or his agents posing as him, and he would project his face in front of me. That’s the kind of power he had, and the hold he thought he had on me. Of course, I did a “cord cutting” to ensure that the psychic ties between us were gone. I had been nothing more than a drug for him, and I had moved on.

Only when he transferred his attention to someone else did he completely stop the lingering obsession with me. The lingering obsession was merely an attempt to prove to himself that he could lure me back and a way to keep his mind and emotions occupied until he focused upon someone else. When he did ultimately focus his attention upon someone else, it was to get a baby which many of his close friends were doing even though many of them were 10-20 years younger than he was. Of course, that relationship did not last. A counselor once told me, as I was winding out of the entanglement with him, “he’s not capable of ‘great love’ at this time – maybe never.” That, of course, is something he would hotly deny.

* * *   * * *   * * *

Kathy passed away two months to the day after she wrote this brilliant articulate post for the readers of her blog:

Malignant Narcissism and Evil – Sunday, March 9, 2008

There’s much ink wasted on the subject of whether narcissists are evil.

Well, yes, obviously they are. But they don’t fit our traditional concept of the evil.

In our traditional concept, the evil one is evil because he loves evil and wants to be evil. He does evil for its own sake, just to do evil.

Narcissists aren’t like that. They do evil for the same reason an alcoholic takes a drink — because it makes them feel good. It keeps a pain repressed.

Indeed, does an alcoholic like whiskey? No! He has a love-hate relationship with it. He knows it’s killing him. But it has a hold on him. He’s addicted to the high.

Narcissists are addicted to the high they get from harming others.

Yes, they DO act out of malice, because they will do it in order to hurt you. That’s no accident: they hurt you on purpose and as much as they can. But only because hurting you makes them feel good.

Like any addict, their addiction is no excuse. It gives them no right to abuse. It doesn’t relieve them of their responsibility for whatever they do to get that next high. So, for example, if they rob someone for the money for whiskey, they can’t use their addicton as an excuse. The addiction is just a temptation, not an excuse.

Narcissists know that if you kill, you are a killer; if you lie, you are a liar; if you abuse, you are an abuser; and so forth. So, they invent an elaborate fantasy to remain in denial of what they are – what they have made themselves.

They can’t bear knowing they are evil, just as you or I couldn’t bear that. So they make sure they UNKNOW it, no matter what. Hence the twisted thinking and elaborate facade.

Facing the fact that they act out of malice is pointless if all it does is puff up self-righteousness. The important thing is that facing this fact breaks the narcissist’s spell over you. Now you are no longer naive.

Original post here: What Makes Narcissists Tick?

6 Comments on Kathy’s original post:

At 2:59 PM, 3-9-2008 Anonymous Gerard said…
I realy like this comparison. I also believe they know it and they hate it. They hate it cause they know it’s about them.
Lie upon lie, the truth gets more cruel. There is no escape left after too many lies and abuses, they believe, for then, their persona falls apart and nothing is left.
It must – or can be something like this.
They hate themselves so much, they twist it around into loving themselves and hating everyone instead.
It scares them to death to get exposed and confronted by anyone and have to look at themselves.
Like Hitler they’d rather kill themselves than to look at themselves and admit that they lost.
I know by now my ex is terrified about what I came to know about her. She still fights sometimes with all means to stop this from being known.
I know now that she’ll lose anyway, even if she wins her game.
When she has to leave this world she’ll know. And going to the other side this way isn’t the way I would prefer.
It must be very painful.
At 6:24 AM, 3-9-2008 Anonymous Troubled Family said…
That really clicked for me. Thank you for fitting yet another piece into the puzzle. It’s been a year now since I’ve severed ties for the most part with my brother (the N). While this has been the most peaceful, drama free year of my life, I have dealt with a twinge of guilt. I’ve mentioned on here before that I am very forgiving, and tend to play peace-keeper with my family and I’ve had a really difficult time with feeling like I’ve abandoned him somehow. He’s 40, I’m 35 and we’ve played the abuse/forgive game for as long as I can remember. I’ve come to realize that I was nothing more than that bottle of whiskey for him. By cutting ties and not allowing him to “drink” off of me any longer, I am no longer contributing to his problem. I truly hope it is possible for him to “fix” himself, but that won’t happen as long as we (his family) continue to give him drinks. So ultimately I think I’m doing exactly what I should be doing: keeping him at a distance. On the rare occation I do have to deal with him I will continue to show him that he doesn’t intimidate in the least, and that he simply CAN’T hurt me ever again. I won’t let him. I guess I’m hoping that if enough of us (his family/bottles of whiskey) force him to see that we will no longer ALLOW any abusive/inappropriate behavior from him, maybe something will “click” in his mind.As always, Thanks & Fingers crossed!
Jen :o)

At 9:54 AM, 3-9-2008 Anonymous Anonymous said…
Kathy, can you please tell us what exactly is the difference between a “malignant narcissist” and a psychopath? From everything I have read, there is no difference. To me, it’s like the “Emperor’s New Clothes.” Some people say, “Oh, it’s just a MN.” “No,” says the little boy in the crowd, “it’s a P.” 
At 10:09 AM, 3-9-2008 Blogger Kathy said…
See Are NPD and Psychopathy the Same? I can’t tell a difference either. 
At 12:30 PM, 3-9-2008 Anonymous Gerard said…
Some will say an N has a suppressed conscience and that a psychopath hasn’t got a conscience at all.
I met some diagnosed psychopaths in my work. Striking is the indifference in everything that happens; if they get caught; indifference, if everything around them falls apart; indifference. No emotions but frustrations that are acted out and vanish then. It’s all only skin deep.
The N’s I knew were different; they showed the opposite of indifference: everything to keep up the image: all kinds of emotions when this was threatend or to keep the image alive. They fight dirty like hell if they get exposed or confronted. But when the outcome of their behaviour is the same and it’s irreversible what does it matter?
Then a MN is just the same as a psychopath.
In this view there is no difference at all in my opinion. 
At 1:15 PM, 3-9-2008 Blogger Kathy said…
I see no difference in conscience, except what you might find naturally along a continuum. Some kill/repress their conscience more completely. The difference of indifference could be a difference in circumstance. When a psychopath has been caught red-handed, he will show indifference = no shame. But that’s only because he can do nothing to fool people and maintain his illusion of righteousness. So, he does the next-best thing. Also, if he gains absolute power like Saddam Hussein or some other dictator, he can ditch the good-guy act and feel no need to pretend that he feels bad about the bad things he does. Any Narcissist might well do the same thing in the same situation.Nonetheless, these gradations of difference are consistent with a continuum of pathology too. That would make psychopathy a more extreme/developed case of NPD.I tend to doubt there’s any real difference – I suspect that these are just indivual differences among narcissists/psychpaths and not actually a different disease. But the “continuum” theory is a reasonable possibility that must be kept in mind until we know for sure. The psychopath could be much farther down the same road, and a dividing line somewhere between narcissism and psychopathy might make sense.

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5 Responses to Narcissists are Addicted to the High They Get from Harming Others

  1. 6 years with my ex, myself a codependent from my childhood. My ex I thought may just have alcohol issues. However a head shrink called it in just seconds. She has destroyed men in her path her entire adult life, those men, abandoned, beat and abused her (they didn’t handle it right at all) but she was able to play the “victim” card. As her 4th spouse (as she was my 4th too in honesty) I responded by seeking help, and research got me to here. Because I snatched the “victim” status away publically from her, she was brutally furious! Like pulling the curtain back on the Wizzard to find the truth, and now wouldn’t stop to spit on me if I was on fire! I believe you can life with someone suffering NPD, but like any addiction behaviors its a life long process. All her friends and family see it now, and to the ex as much as I love her, I cant let her go off and destroy anyone else without the public warning. She will hate me forever, but I will be healing from her that long anyways.. There is a wonderful woman in there.. but this beast called NPD along with alcohol… insane…

  2. Anita Garcia says:

    yes, I have ex narcissistic sil who lied to me about brothers will said he left money for me and mom while it was in probate to keep me from contesting it and then said later she said misspoke when I finally questioned hersince I have responsibility of mom with alzheimersMy brother had told me how much he was leavingto help with mom and now she wants me to use 7 thousand that mom got for her only asset, an old trailer, first and then she says she will pay half of assisted living because that’s what my brother would have done. Well, she didn’t mention he would have had half of this responsibility and I am alone taking care of mom.
    She also went through moms silverware prior to brother passing , kept some things and my brother said she packed up some things I might want—I Cant believe my brother and she felt like this was ok. Anyway she is very vengeful person and was pissed because I told her how I felt about that. She feels entitled number one and has no empathy, so I have to feel she has narcissistic personality disorder. Hope she enjoys spending the money. My brother was well off and I cant afford assisted care for mom.Hope she rots in hell.
    when I left her house 6 months ago after asking her about will and she said she misspoke etc she leaned into my ear as I was leaving so my friend could not hear her and said byeeee in a singsong voice.She was Happy that I was upset about brother not leaving money in trust for mom –the least he could have done .Maybe he was coerced by her.

  3. This is interesting. I have long been confused about the differences between narcissism and sociopathy. I am convinced my X husband of thirteen years was/is a died in the wool narcissist, and, also, that he never set out to hurt me, intentionally; that his hurting me was a mere by-product of his self-centeredness and his sense of entitlement. So be it. But, after reading many of the above posts, I ask you, which is MORE damaging to others, that is, MORE EVIL, the sociopathic indifference, or the narcissistic false self that must always deceive, lie and connive, manipulate and so forth, to keep others tied in to the trauma/drama-rama. I always thought the sociopath was on the extreme end of evil. I am re-thinking this. Thanks.

    • A sociopath is far more angerous. THey have no love, like, care or concern for any other human. Their entire world is lies and delusions of their own greatness. Everything they say is a lie except maybe their name or shoe size. They are missing the portion of the brain that allows concern, care, love, comapssion. They only: assess others for their usfulness to them. Win tthe targeted victim’s trust. Charm them then take. Ruin them behind their back ane then smear them after the game is over. They have several vicitms at one time and cycle through many fake relationships at varying stages constantly. They are so wihtout consciense they are utter evil. They often behave in criminal activities, but scim the boarders of ebing caught in such things as theft, defrauding, larceny, immigration scams… an dI mean they do this in to the women (and men) they’re in relationships with. They steal, take, ruin lives. This is the only way they function. They know it. They enjoy it.

  4. Thanks for the post! In my quest to deal with why I was feeling awful around a female friend of mine I came to find Kathy Krajco’s blog. Thank you for sharing a piece of it since some of the links are not there anymore.

    It is a drug like alcohol…they are so addicted to feeling good through hurting others. They keep coming back for more and depending on the type of supply one has provided it in the past…it can be extremely difficult to get rid of them psychologically. Indeed…knowing what it is helps you heal.

    Take care!

    peersncareers (T Reddy)

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