All narcissistic people are sadists

INQUIRED: «Lack of empathy and the devaluation of others»

INQUIRED: «Lack of empathy and the devaluation of others»

Reinhard Haller, the term narcissism has been on everyone's lips since Donald Trump. You once called Trump a great narcissist. What is this assessment based on?

Although psychiatry should be wary of remote diagnoses, one can only judge Donald Trump's demonstrative behavior as narcissistic. The extreme egocentricity, the often shown lack of empathy, the constant devaluation of others while at the same time personal sensitivity are typical symptoms of excessive narcissism.

You write that narcissists are often successful professionally - why?

Some narcissistic traits, such as enthusiasm and assertiveness or great self-confidence, promote a career. If narcissistic leaders become less and less able to work in a team over the years, no longer even allow other opinions or constructive criticism, and constantly devalue employees, things crash. Narcissistic bosses are advantageous for a company in the initial phase, but after about 10 years the disadvantages outweigh the disadvantages.

What is the difference between healthy and sick narcissism?

Narcissism is not a bad thing, as is so often the case, the right dose counts. If a person has no narcissistic elements, neurotic reactions occur. Narcissism becomes problematic when the limit of suffering is exceeded: that of fellow human beings, but also that of the narcissist himself, for example when it comes to loneliness or the abuse of stimulants.

To put it more simply: what is the difference between self-love and selfishness?

Similar to a drug, narcissism does not convey real emotions, only intoxicating feelings. The narcissist becomes intoxicated with admiration and praise. Like an addict, he can never get enough of these. His psychological feeling is based on the great facade, not the inner life.

Positive sides of narcissism are self-confidence, enthusiasm or sensitivity. When does it turn negative?

When the narcissistic needs that every person has become rampant and determine the life of the person concerned, freedom is lost. Narcissism becomes negative when it is acted out at the expense of others.

Are lack of empathy and emotional coldness the main distinguishing features?

Lack of empathy is one of the 5 big "E" s that can be used to describe the narcissistic disorder. In addition there is egocentricity, selfishness, sensitivity and devaluation of others.

How do you become a narcissist? Because of too little love in childhood?

The causes of narcissism are complex and not completely transparent. Significant risk factors, however, are excessive or complete lack of emotional affection in childhood. If a child is raised to be a “star”, this basic narcissistic attitude will be part of their personality. On the other hand, if the basic psychological need for affection and recognition is not met, the person develops a greed for narcissistic confirmation.

What is amorous narcissism? Is everyone who wants love a narcissist?

Among the many forms of narcissism, some are pathological, some dangerous, some just annoying or even ridiculous. One of the more amiable types is the amorous narcissist, who sees his sexual attractiveness confirmed behind everything and everyone.

What is the difference between malignant and conventional narcissism? Keyword serial killer or despot.

Otto Kernberg, world-renowned psychoanalyst, has described a personality profile in sexual serial killers that is also found in the great despots of mankind. These narcissists are highly sadistic, suffering from pathological envy and paranoid suspicion. They almost compulsively strive for constant control and exercise of power.

Why does the narcissist keep falling?

All versions of the narcissus myth crash. This may be comfort to anyone suffering from a narcissist. When the narcissist takes off more and more, loses reference to reality in the narcissistic rush of heights and sees himself abandoned by the most loyal, he becomes lonely. Then he makes fatal decisions or cannot bear to stop receiving admiration.

Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1900–1980) also names group narcissism. Keyword patriotism or fanaticism.

Narcissism encompasses not just individuals, but groups, masses and peoples, sometimes all of humanity. Group narcissism, as we see it in terrorist organizations or excessive nationalism, is subject to the same psychological laws as individual narcissism.

They say that narcissism turned from illness into a model. Where does this model lead us?

Indeed, for centuries narcissism has been considered a sin or the privilege of the mighty. Narcissistic personality disorder was later declared a disease. Today narcissism is an ideal to strive for. The Ego-AG lives according to the principle: «I, ego, most ego». If this development continues, it will lead to social coldness and social de-solidarization. But because the saving factor always grows with increasing danger, there are counter-movements, for example in the environmental sector.

Why are narcissists sometimes warm, sometimes freezing?

Narcissistic disorders are often associated with emotional instability and moodiness. Living with narcissistic personalities requires great sacrifices. If a partner or boss turns out to be a narcissist through and through, as a psychotherapist I can only give one completely untherapeutic advice: Take flight and never return. (sh)


Reinhard Haller, born in Vorarlberg in 1951, is a psychiatrist, neurologist and chief physician at the Addiction Clinic Foundation Maria Ebene. In 2013 his book “The Narcissus Trap” was published. He wrote numerous reports as a court expert.