Last Updated on April 16, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester
What is a Sadistic Narcissist?
Underneath the charismatic façade that the narcissist displays to the world can be an easily angered sadist. Sam Vaknin, author of “Malignant Self-Love”, defines the relationship between narcissism and sadism as psychodynamic ‘cousins’. The narcissist is as capable of meting out pain as any sadist.
The reason behind their sadistic acts is what creates the difference. Yes, the narcissist uses torture and abuse but he does so as a means of punishment for perceived slights and, thus, reasserting his sense of superiority.
The Meaning of Sadism and Narcissism
The sadist engages in torture and abuse for the genuine enjoyment of being cruel. The narcissist’s sadism is different from the more infamously known Sexual Sadism (DSM-IV-TR category). Sexual sadism involves deriving sexual pleasure from the suffering or torment of others caused by their acts of torture or abuse.
When narcissism is co-morbid with sadism, the individual exhibits all the traits and characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), but in addition, has sadistic tendencies that reinforce the negative behavior of their narcissism.
However, there is no sexual pleasure associated with their sadistic acts. Instead, the acts of sadism generate Narcissistic Supply. Sadistic acts are the narcissist’s way to punish those who are not being compliant, admiring or indulgent.
The Difference Between Sadism and a Narcissist
The narcissist must always “win” and they will use any means at their disposal to do so, including torture or abuse. They don’t think twice about causing pain in order to win.
Narcissists always cause psychological pain and often physical pain as well. Usually those who are victimized the most are the closest and the most vulnerable: their partner or spouse, their children, siblings, and intimate friends.
People often think of sadism between two adults but it is just as common between siblings or when parents beat their scapegoat child. Narcissists leave a wide trail of misery throughout their lifetimes.
Dealing With a Sadistic Narcissist: Their Partners
The sadistic narcissist gets pleasure and Narcissistic Supply from inflicting psychological and physical pain. They choose their victims carefully in order to achieve the end goal of obtaining Supply. Narcissists choose partners that are compliant, overly dependent, and afraid to live a life independent of the narcissist.
They have accepted their role as the narcissist’s spouse or partner as they have been “hooked” by the narcissist’s extravagant personality and grand visions for the future. They idolize the narcissist and dream of sharing their lives with someone who is so confident, successful, and charismatic. Initially, he is magnetic and utterly romantic, making them feel like they are the most important person in the universe.
However, once the narcissist has them firmly hooked and reeled in, the mask starts to fall away, piece by piece, until the partner is subjected to the narcissist’s volcanic rage, unending and outrageous demands, chronic criticisms, and humiliations.
Reading Suggestion: What is Narcissistic Rage?
The Dark Side of the Narcissist
This dark side of the narcissist not only causes long lasting mental, emotional and physical pain to his partner or children, but he then begins to experience pleasure in watching this meaningful person(s) suffer as the acts become associated with obtaining Narcissistic Supply.
These sadistic behaviors become chronic and threaten the psychological and sometimes physical health of those closest to him. Unfortunately, they have paid a terrible price to remain at the narcissist’s side.
How Does the Sadistic Narcissist Keep You Under His Spell?
Narcissists dispense cruelty. They have no remorse or empathy for other people in their lives and will do anything in order to control them and win at all costs.
Common actions are to beat them down, keep them on edge, threatening to leave them without financial resources, and even promise their spouses that they will wrench the children away. They want to be known as capable of anything- that makes them feel omnipotent.
What would cause a narcissist to sadistically abuse someone close to them, a source of Supply-why not just discard them? According to Sam Vaknin (“Malignant Love”), a narcissist would tend to display his sadistic side under two conditions:
reading Suggestion: What is Narcissistic Abuse?
1. That the very acts of sadism generate Narcissistic Supply to be consumed by the narcissist (“I inflict pain, therefore I am superior and omnipotent”), or
2. That the victims of his sadism are still his only or major sources of Narcissistic Supply but are perceived by him to be intentionally frustrating and withholding. Sadistic acts are his way of punishing them for not being docile, obedient, admiring and adoring as he expects them to be in view of his uniqueness, cosmic significance, and special entitlement.
Tools Of The Sadistic Narcissist
Generally, the narcissist is not a full-blown sadist but because of his rigid personality and lack of empathy, he does inflict physical or emotional pain on significant others. With repetition, he learns to enjoy their suffering as it becomes associated with the generation of Narcissistic Supply.
The sadistic narcissist abuses his victims verbally, mentally, emotionally and physically. He destroys their self-esteem, constantly demeans and humiliates, abuses their confidence, may hurt their loved ones, threatens their stability and security, withholds love and sex, and freely criticizes in private and in public.
Reading Suggestion: The Narcissist and Emotional Abuse
Not uncommonly, the sadistic narcissist masquerades his sadism as scientific and objective concern. He plays the part of the psychiatrist or the father figure, the only “true” friend, or the experienced mentor. These sadistic acts weaken their victim’s defenses and splits already frayed nerves.
Fear and Hate
Sadistic narcissists take pleasure in being feared, or even hated, by others. It makes them feel powerful and God-like. They get drunk with power when they see looks of horror or disgust on people’s faces; it makes them feel like other people think the narcissist is capable of anything.
This is an asset that the narcissist develops and cherishes. Hate and fear are guaranteed generators of attention. After all, it is always about generating attention (Narcissistic Supply, his drug of choice). Acts of sadism are just one more tool in the narcissist’s toolbox that he will use to gain his needed “fix”.