Question Answer
0 View
Peringkat Artikel
1 звезда2 звезды3 звезды4 звезды5 звезд

What personality causes violence?

Study: Narcissistic Traits Can Lead to Aggression and Violence

Sarah Simon is a bilingual multimedia journalist with a degree in psychology. She has previously written for publications including The Daily Beast and Rantt Media.

Published on June 08, 2021

Nick Blackmer is a librarian, fact-checker, and researcher with more than 20 years’ experience in consumer-oriented health and wellness content.

Illustration of a closed fist and an open hand.

Key Takeaways

  • Recent research shows a consistent link between narcissistic traits, aggression, and violence.
  • Many types of aggression (like physical, verbal, or bullying) and violence were linked to narcissism across the board.
  • Therapy and parenting can all help reduce the risk of narcissistic traits and behaviors.

Is it possible to be too self-centered? Are there consequences of unchecked bragging? According to a new study from The Ohio State University, the answer is yes. Researchers say narcissism can lead to aggression and violence.

The researchers analyzed over 430 studies from around the world and found that narcissism is an important risk factor for both aggression and violence. They identified the link for all degrees of narcissism, from just a few traits to full-blown narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), regardless of gender, age, or country of residence.

«It’s disturbing to know that there is such a consistent link between being high in the trait of narcissism because it doesn’t have to be at pathological levels, and being high in aggression,» Sophie Kjærvik, MA, a doctoral student at Ohio State and study author, tells Verywell.

Anywhere between 1% to 17% of the United States population may have NPD. But this study’s results apply even to those who don’t develop the disorder. Nearly everyone has some degree of narcissism, Kjærvik adds, which makes its links to aggression and violence important to study.

The study was published in the American Psychological Association (APA) Psychological Bulletin in late May.

Narcissism Led to Aggression

Although the term «narcissism» is often used loosely, the clinical meaning of the word is more complicated. There are two major types of narcissism.

The first is grandiose narcissism, which is characterized by perceived superiority, dominance, and aggression. This type is not as sensitive as the second type, called vulnerable narcissism. This second form of narcissism is characterized by constant comparison of the self to others and feeling offended and/or anxious when people don’t treat them as if they’re special. The more severe NPD is, the more severe the aggression is.

For this review, researchers analyzed 437 independent studies including 123,043 participants. They found that many types of aggression (like physical, verbal, or bullying) and violence were linked to narcissism across the board. Researchers found no difference between types of narcissism, and the link was still significant across varying levels of narcissistic traits.

The link was also significant for both males and females of all ages, for students and non-students, and for people from different countries that reflect different cultures. Bottom line, «narcissistic people will always be more likely to aggress against others,» Kjærvik says. People with narcissistic traits were more likely to aggress when provoked, such as when they were ignored or insulted.

«They’re entitled, they feel superior, they think they’re worth more than others,» Kjærvik explains. «But at the same time, if you have shame there, or threaten this insulated ego that they have, they tend to get more aggressive because they’re trying to protect that ego. And when people are shaming them, their way of protecting this picture of themselves as this majestic superior person is to lash out in anger.»

What Are the Risk Factors for NPD?

Many factors are thought to predispose the individual to develop narcissistic traits. Some include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Aggression
  • Reduced tolerance to distress
  • Dysfunctional affect regulation

However, childhood experiences are thought to be influential as well.

Researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia, Charlotte van Schie, PhD, and Nicholas Day, PhD, told Verywell via email about two different childhood experiences that place someone at risk for developing the two major types of narcissism.

«We found that people who perceived to have been excessively pampered by their parents report more narcissistic traits,» they say. «When caregivers are more overprotective and [overly praise], they may foster grandiose self-ideals without the ability to do a reality check.» This type of caregiving early in life is related to grandiose narcissism.

At the same time, childhood trauma may be a risk factor for developing personality disorder, van Schie and Day note. Childhood neglect or abuse could be related to vulnerable narcissism.

«However, not everyone that developed personality disorder has experienced trauma nor does everyone that experiences trauma develop a personality disorder,» van Schie and Day say.

How Narcissism Is Treated

Treatment for narcissism and NPD is still in its infancy. It can also be difficult to study, since an individual high in narcissism may be less likely to seek help.

Still, when people with narcissistic traits do seek help, van Shie and Day say, they are likely to do it for other issues, such as a break-up or difficulties in the workplace. A psychotherapist who suspects narcissism, or who has officially diagnosed it, can employ certain evidence-based therapeutic treatments.

«What works for personality disorder in general [includes] supporting the person to strengthen their sense of self and increase their understanding of others,» van Schie and Day say. «The therapeutic relationship is very important to be able to carefully explore the difficulties in understanding inner states and seeing other people’s perspective.»

There’s also research indicating that self-compassion in response to shameful experiences may be helpful in treatment for narcissism. «Part of effective treatment is helping these patients to appreciate a realistic and ‘good enough’ sense of themselves, that is neither perfect nor completely bad,» van Schie and Day add.

What This Means For You

If you are experiencing aggression or violence from someone in your life, you can get help at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text START to the same number.

Recognizing the Signs of NPD

Regardless of your experiences with narcissistic traits in yourself or others, the researchers add that it’s important to understand it at a deeper level, as well as recognize the signs.

«Even though people high in narcissism traits may present as very confident, they may not actually have a good sense of who they are and may struggle to have good relationships,» van Schie and Day say. «Feelings of shame may be an important mediator in this link between narcissism and aggression.»

Some symptoms of high narcissism or NPD to watch out for include:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectation of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
  • Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes.

If you find yourself experiencing aggression from a narcissistic person, it’s important to distance yourself from that person and look for support from others.

And when it comes to preventing narcissism, Kjærvik adds, it may be best to work with children. «I think a very important part is to teach your children about empathy and to not over-praise. Still praise effort, but not results,» she says. «If we teach our kids when they are very young about empathy, then maybe that could minimize [risk].»

5 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Caligor E, Levy KN, Yeomans FE. Narcissistic personality disorder: diagnostic and clinical challenges. Am J Psychiatry. 2015;172(5):415-422. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14060723
  2. Kjærvik SL, Bushman BJ. The link between narcissism and aggression: a meta-analytic review. Psychol Bull. Published online May 24, 2021. doi:10.1037/bul0000323
  3. Mitra P, Fluyau D. Narcissistic personality disorder. StatPearls.
  4. van Schie CC, Jarman HL, Huxley E, Grenyer BFS. Narcissistic traits in young people: understanding the role of parenting and maltreatment. Borderline Personal Disord Emot Dysregul. 2020;7(1). doi:10.1186/s40479-020-00125-7
  5. King RM, Grenyer BFS, Gurtman CG, Younan R. A clinician’s quick guide to evidence‐based approaches: Narcissistic personality disorder. Clin Psychol (Aust Psychol Soc). 2020;24(1):91-95. doi:10.1111/cp.12214

By Sarah Simon
Sarah Simon is a bilingual multimedia journalist with a degree in psychology. She has previously written for publications including The Daily Beast and Rantt Media.

10 Personality Disorders That May Cause Intimate Partner Violence

Purdue’s Katherine Collison discusses her new research on personality disorders (PDs) and intimate partner violence (IPV).

 Mark Travers, Ph.D.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | September 19, 2021

A new study published in Clinical Psychology Review takes an in-depth look at intimate partner violence (IPV) and the personality characteristics of people who perpetrate, or receive, IPV. Specifically, the researchers examined the 10 main personality disorders defined by the DSM-5 (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent and obsessive–compulsive personality disorder) and explored their associations with IPV. They found antisocial personalities and borderline personalities were most likely to be the perpetrators and/or victims of intimate partner violence.

I recently spoke with Dr. Katherine Collison, the lead author of the study, to discuss her findings in more detail. Here is a summary of our conversation.

What inspired you to investigate the topic of personality disorders and intimate partner violence and what did you find?

Prior to this project, my research was focused on the basic personality traits (i.e., patterns in the ways we tend to think and feel) related to general aggression and antisocial behavior. In doing this work, I realized that intimate partner aggression and violence were often researched separately from other forms of aggression and that far fewer studies have examined the basic personality traits related to intimate partner aggression compared to other forms of aggression. The goal of a meta-analysis is to synthesize all of the research that has been done to answer one specific research question and estimate the average effect size that exists in the literature. So, this project was really a starting point for me to better understand what research has already been done on personality and intimate partner aggression and where there might be potential gaps to fill.

What we found was that most research on personality and intimate partner aggression has focused on personality disorders, rather than basic personality traits. Personality disorders are clinical diagnoses that describe a pervasive pattern of distress or impairment in how someone thinks, feels, and relates to others. To me, personality disorders can be understood as collections of extreme scores on certain traits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that most personality disorder diagnoses or symptoms were related to both the perpetration and experience of intimate partner aggression. Some of the personality disorders that had the strongest connections with perpetrating intimate partner aggression were antisocial, borderline, paranoid, and schizotypal personality disorders, and these effects did not seem to vary much by gender, ethnicity, or any of the other study characteristics we included as potential moderators.

You found that antisocial personalities and borderline personalities were most likely to be the perpetrators and/or victims of intimate partner violence. Is that what you expected?

Yes, for a few reasons. First, these have been two of the most widely studied personality disorders with respect to intimate partner aggression, and a few meta-analyses have already found that there is a strong connection between symptoms of these personality disorders and being aggressive in a romantic relationship (Spencer et al., 2019; Jackson et al., 2015). Second, the symptoms of these personality disorders are known risk factors for engaging in aggressive behavior or having relationship conflict, which is why they have been two of the most widely studied personality disorders in this area of study. Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a history of antisocial behavior (e.g., stealing, conning others), self-centeredness, lack of remorse or concern for others, recklessness, and impulsivity. Borderline personality disorder is characterized by chronic feelings of emptiness, low self-esteem, intense and unstable relationships, fear of abandonment, and impulsivity, particularly when feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Additionally, in terms of more basic personality traits, we know that two traits that are central to each of these disorders, antagonism and impulsivity, are the traits most strongly linked to all forms of antisocial behavior. As such, both diagnoses have symptoms that impact relationships with others and make it more likely that conflicts are handled in unhealthy ways.

Can you talk specifically about the relationship between Borderline Personality Disorder and intimate partner violence?

It’s important to understand that in order to be diagnosed with a personality disorder, a person has to meet a certain number of criteria outlined in the DSM-5. For borderline personality disorder specifically, someone has to have at least five out of nine possible symptoms. That means that two people with the same diagnosis might think and behave very differently from each other, which is one of the reasons I find personality traits to be more informative than a personality disorder diagnosis.

With that being said, it makes sense why several symptoms of borderline personality disorder might be related to being in a relationship in which intimate partner aggression occurs. Intense emotional mood swings, impulsive behavior, difficulty controlling anger, and extreme perceptions of others (i.e., idealizing someone in one moment and hating them in the next) could all put someone at more risk for becoming physically or psychologically violent with a romantic partner. Additionally, other features of borderline personality disorder, such as chronic feelings of emptiness, low self-esteem, and intense fear of abandonment, might put someone at more risk for staying in a harmful relationship.

How common is intimate partner violence? Do you have any statistics on prevalence rates? Does it vary by country, region, SES, etc.?

Unfortunately, intimate partner violence is common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, approximately one in four women and one in ten men have experienced physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Additionally, over 43 million women and 38 million men in the U.S. have experienced psychological aggression from an intimate partner in their lifetime. We know that this is a pervasive public health issue worldwide as well.

What practical takeaways can your research offer to someone who is currently in an abusive relationship or has been in abusive relationships?

First, let me be clear that the factors that play a role in intimate partner aggression are complex, multifaceted, and related not just to personality, but to situational, cultural, and social-learning factors (among others). Related to that point, these findings are not implying that anyone who engages in or experiences intimate partner aggression meets criteria for a personality disorder, nor do they imply that all individuals with personality disorder diagnoses are in abusive relationships.

Intimate partner aggression can look many different ways, including hitting, slapping, name-calling, yelling in someone’s face, throwing things at the wall or directly at someone, blocking a partner from leaving a room or leaving the house, and coercing someone to have sex or not taking no for an answer. For anyone who is in an abusive relationship, physical and emotional safety are the priorities. Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or licensed mental health provider about your experience can be a really powerful way to feel less alone, develop a safety plan, and get the support you need should you choose to leave that relationship. Additionally, the National Domestic Violence Hotline offers many helpful resources on its website and has a 24/7 phone number for people who are experiencing and/or engaging in abusive behavior and need help (1-800-799-7233). Seeking professional couples counseling can also be a way to help improve communication and the ways you handle conflict with your partner.

Do you have plans for follow-up studies? Where would you like to see this research go in the future?

This project really highlighted the need for more research on the basic personality traits that might serve as risk factors for intimate partner aggression. We got some great information about people who have personality disorder diagnoses or symptoms, but the reality is that intimate partner aggression is common and is not just being perpetrated by individuals with clinical diagnoses. I just finished a follow-up study that examined which basic, normative personality traits might put someone at risk for engaging in intimate partner aggression to try to fill in some of those gaps and we’re currently writing up the results to submit for publication. In the future, my hope is that we can take this work a step further to help individualize treatment for people who are violent in romantic relationships and address some of the potential underlying mechanisms for that aggressive behavior.



 Mark Travers, Ph.D.

Mark Travers, Ph.D., is the lead psychologist at Awake Therapy, responsible for new client intake and placement. Mark received his B.A. in psychology, magna cum laude, from Cornell University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Boulder. His academic research has been published in leading psychology journals and has been featured in The New York Times and The New Yorker, among other popular publications. He is a regular contributor for Forbes and Psychology Today, where he writes about psycho-educational topics such as happiness, relationships, personality, and life meaning. An unabashed positive psychologist, you will often hear him preaching the simple but powerful wisdom, «the more you can replace bad thoughts with good thoughts, the happier, healthier, and more successful you will be.» Click here to schedule an initial consultation with Mark or another member of the Awake Therapy team today.


The Link Between Borderline Personality and Violence

Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Updated on February 10, 2022
Medically reviewed

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

couple meets with therapist

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex mental illness that affects both men and women. Along with strong emotions and feelings, people with BPD can also experience intense anger, known as borderline rage. If you have a family member or loved one who has BPD, it’s important to understand how violence relates to BPD and how it can be handled.  

Violence in People With BPD

There is research demonstrating that both men and women who have committed violent acts have elevated rates of borderline personality disorder compared to the general population. However, this does not necessarily mean that a diagnosis is associated with an increased risk of violence.

Impulsive behavior, which includes physical aggression, is one of the diagnostic criteria for BPD, even though someone can meet criteria for the disorder without demonstrating this symptom.  

A large 2016 study in the U.K. found that BPD alone did not suggest a tendency for violence, but did show that those with BPD are more likely to have «comorbidities,» associated conditions such as anxiety, antisocial personality disorder, and substance abuse which do raise the risk of violence.

A systematic search of studies that year confirmed the same finding, with a lack of evidence that BPD alone increases violent behavior.

Strong Emotions and BPD

There are several reasons why people with BPD are more likely to be violent in their relationships. First, people with BPD are often victims of violence themselves, such as through child abuse. While it’s not true for all people, many people with BPD may have learned to use aggression to deal with strong emotions because adults modeled that behavior for them when they were young.  

In addition, people with BPD often experience an unstable sense of self and difficulty trusting others in interpersonal relationships. They may experience very strong emotions if they believe they are being rejected or abandoned; this is known as rejection sensitivity or abandonment sensitivity. These intense feelings of rejection can sometimes lead to aggressive behaviors.  

Finally, people with BPD often have difficulties with impulsive behaviors. When they are experiencing strong emotions that are typical of the disorder, they may do things without thinking about the consequences. If they engage in violence, it is usually not planned. It is an impulsive act done in the heat of the moment.  

Risk of Becoming Violent

The information above only provides general information about the link between borderline personality disorder and violence; it is not possible to predict whether one particular individual with BPD will be violent. If your loved one has not shown any violent tendencies or aggression, it is quite possible that they won’t be violent. Many individuals with BPD never commit any aggressive acts during their lives.

If you are feeling threatened, even if no violence has occurred in your relationship, you should take that seriously. If you already feel unsafe, it is possible the situation could escalate to the point of violence.

You should consider getting yourself to a safe place away from that loved one, whether that means getting a hotel or staying with friends. It’s important that you are safe before trying to help your friend or family member get help.  

Once you are secure, your best bet is for both of you to seek professional help through therapy with a therapist specializing in BPD. This may help you figure out whether the relationship can be improved and may prevent violence from happening in the future.

Therapy can also help you decide whether this is a relationship worth saving. The therapist can also recommend a course of treatment to help your loved one get on the path to recovery.  

Safety Plans

Having a diagnosis of BPD not only may increase the risk of violence against others but against self. Self-harm is a common issue for many individuals living with BPD.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Some therapists recommend that people fill out a safety plan for borderline personality disorder. This safety plan can be helpful not only in preparing for possible violent or suicidal thoughts but can help you identify triggers in your daily life.  

5 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Berenson KR, Downey G, Rafaeli E, Coifman KG, Paquin NL. The rejection-rage contingency in borderline personality disorder. J Abnorm Psychol. 2011;120(3):681-90. doi:10.1037/a0023335
  2. González RA, Igoumenou A, Kallis C, Coid JW. Borderline personality disorder and violence in the UK population: categorical and dimensional trait assessment. BMC Psychiatry. 2016;16:180. doi:10.1186/s12888-016-0885-7
  3. Cattane N, Rossi R, Lanfredi M, Cattaneo A. Borderline personality disorder and childhood trauma: exploring the affected biological systems and mechanisms. BMC Psychiatry. 2017;17(1):221. doi:10.1186/s12888-017-1383-2
  4. Sato M, Fonagy P, Luyten P. Rejection Sensitivity and Borderline Personality Disorder Features: The Mediating Roles of Attachment Anxiety, Need to Belong, and Self-Criticism. J Pers Disord. 2019:1-16. doi:10.1521/pedi_2019_33_397
  5. Goodman M, Tomas IA, Temes CM, Fitzmaurice GM, Aguirre BA, Zanarini MC. Suicide attempts and self-injurious behaviours in adolescent and adult patients with borderline personality disorder. Personal Ment Health. 2017;11(3):157-163. doi:10.1002/pmh.1375

Additional Reading

  • Lowenstein, J., Purvis, C., and K. Rose. A Systematic Review on the Relationship Between Antisocial, Borderline, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnostic Traits and Risk of Violence to Others in a Clinical and Forensic Sample. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotional Dysregulation. 2016. 3:14.
  • Gonzalez, R., Igoumenou, A., Kallis, C., and J. Coid. Borderline Personality Disorder and Violence in the UK Population: Categorical and Dimensional Trait Assessment. BMC Psychiatry. 2016. 16:180.

By Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD
Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Ссылка на основную публикацию