Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

An Analysis of the Probable Association between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and a Rage-Type Murder Event (Part 1)

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

An Analysis of the Probable Association between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and a Rage-Type Murder Event (Part 1)

Article excerpt

Narcissism is a phenomenon dating back to the Greek myth of Narcissus. The myth portrays the fate of a man who was so in love with himself, he completely withdrew from the world (Ehrlich, 2000; Fine, 1986). In simple terms, narcissism can be described as "self-involvement", and occurs when the ego adopts itself as the love object, where the alternative of falling in love with another is completely rejected (Peterson & Seligman, 2004; Symington, 1993). Narcissism destroys any self-knowledge in the individual by projecting unwanted aspects of the character onto others (Symington, 1993). "Their whole demeanor tends to portray a quiet sense of knowing that they are more important than others" (von Krosigk, 2012, p.482). In addition they make unreasonable demands on others, show arrogant behavior and are demeaning towards others. These individuals have learned to rely only on themselves and their self-evaluations for safety and the preservation of their self-esteem (Millon, 1981 ; Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011).

There is a perception that individuals with narcissistic personalities retreat into themselves, as indifference is the best protection against disappointment (Fine, 1986; Ronningstam, 2005). The notion of others being untrustworthy, and reliance primarily on self-love, is a defense mechanism narcissistic individuals evoke to avoid the risk of rejection (Ronningstam, 2005). The main problem seems to be a disturbance in self-regard, as well as disturbances in object relations. These disturbances reflect intense, primitive and internalized object relations and the inability to depend on internalized'good' objects (Kemberg, 1975).

Narcissistic individuals are by nature independent and not open to intimidation; their main interest is self-preservation. The ego has a substantial amount of aggressiveness, which is ready for activity whenever the self-image is perceived to be under threat (Freud, 1961). They see dependency on other people as a weakness and risky (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011). Research on narcissism (Bauemeister, Smart & Boden, 1996; Bogart, Benotsch & Pavlovic, 2004; Bushman & Bauemeister, 1998; DiGiuseppe & Taffate, 2007; Kemberg, 1975; Ronningstam, 2005) indicates that hostile aggression is a reaction to threatening evaluations of the self-esteem. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Text Revision) (DSM-IV-TR) (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) describes individuals with narcissistic personalities as those whose "self-esteem is invariably fragile; [these individuals] may be preoccupied with how well [they are] doing or how [they are] regarded by others. In response to criticism, [they] may react with rage..." (p.350). Thus the rage they experience is a direct expression of their aggression, and erupts when their superiority is questioned.

Aim of this Contribution

The authors focused on establishing whether narcissistic individuals will go to extreme levels of violence, specifically murder, if their self-image is threatened in intimate relationships. The aspiration was to determine the extent of pre-existing narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in these individuals and how this contributed to the murder they committed. Emphasis is placed on the psychological motivation of the murderer, as well as the relationship that existed between the murderer and the victim prior to the event. Individuals who commit rage-type murders do not have psychopathy, and they cannot be diagnosed with Axis I disorders, as stipulated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Text Revision) (DSM-IV-TR), and are thus seen as 'normal' (i.e. individuals who do not have a history of violence or psychopathology). In Part one (this article) the researchers will specifically aim to define the key concepts central to this study, namely: rage-type murder; narcissistic personality disorder and present the reader with the current body of knowledge available on rage-type murder. …

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