Psychology of Murder

When Narcissistic Rage Ends In Murder

It is almost unheard of for one individual to have all nine traits on the narcissistic scale but those who do have the potential to be extremely dangerous individuals, with those around them being at the most risk from what is termed narcissistic rage. The appearance of narcissistic traits within those who kill has been on the table for a long time. Ted Bundy for example, who became one of America’s most notorious serial killers was what you could call a classic narcissist.

This was a man who once caught and being assessed by a psychological profiler from the FBI, offered to go to the FBI Behavioural Science Unit and teach investigators about his crimes and motives, an offer which the FBI refused. According to Robert Ressler, a profiler who assessed some of the worst serial killers in American history, Ted Bundy was a ‘master of his game’.

Narcissists, by their very nature, don’t take responsibility for their actions or events around them. They do not admit they have any faults or could be at fault because they genuinely don’t believe that they are.

They would not call themselves a narcissist and they certainly wouldn’t believe that they had a personality disorder. Cult leaders are typical examples of pathological narcissists.

They believe they are special and powerful and they show the level of control and dominance such beliefs can achieve.

The Case of Brian Blackwell

Brian Blackwell was one such individual whose behaviour and actions defied the belief of many. Brian was 18 years old and appeared to be the nice boy next door, but this 18 year old had all nine traits possible; he was volatile, unpredictable and dangerous.

In July 2004, Brian Blackwell killed his parents in Liverpool and then went on holiday with his girlfriend and his parents credit cards. Upon return to England he maintained the story that his parents were away until a horrified neighbour discovered the truth, weeks after the crime. Brian denied any knowledge of the murders and was adamant police were wrong that he was involved.

The mounting evidence against him told police otherwise and he was charged with double murder. After being psychologically tested he was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder showing all nine traits on the scale. Brian had created a false self with reality intertwined with fantasy.

He had enticed his girlfriend by claiming to be an international tennis player, promising her money, gifts and holidays and gave her a ‘job’ as his personal secretary.

Needing to show some evidence of his wealth he used his father’s credit card to pay for flights to America and on being confronted by his furious father, he snapped and exploded in rage. It was a vicious attack on both his parents.

Narcissistic Rage

Heinz Kohut was an American psychoanalyst who focused on psychoanalytic theory.

In his book, ‘Thoughts on Narcissism and Narcissistic Rage’ he coins the term ‘narcissistic rage’, highlighting the risk of violent rage from narcissists if they are challenged or perceive rejection.

Brian Blackwell’s murderous actions were attributed to a narcissistic rage after being confronted and questioned by his father, reducing his charge to manslaughter. Narcissistic personality disorder was used for the first time in the United Kingdom in his defence and provided mitigation to his crime.

The UK has seen other cases of teenagers who kill their parents, and children who kill other children, but this is the first time narcissistic personality disorder, and specifically narcissistic rage has been the focus in such cases. Brian Blackwell was sentenced in June 2005 to life imprisonment and it is unlikely he will ever be released.

Mass Murders and Narcissism

There have been a number of high profile mass shootings in recent history.  The Port Arthur Massacre in Australia in 1996, The Columbine High School shootings in 1999, the Norway attacks in 2011 by Anders Behring Breivik and the Colorado movie theatre shootings in Aurora in 2012.

In an article focusing on mass shootings and a possible link of narcissistic rage between different cases, Dr. Winston Chung, a psychiatrist with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, discusses the work of Kohut in light of the various mass shootings which have taken place in America. Comparing such cases brings some interesting points where narcissistic behaviours and a lack of empathy can clearly be seen.

A common theme among such tragic incidents can be the notion that such actions will bring them fame and glory and they deserve this attention.

Grandiosity, uniqueness and lack of empathy, all traits which feature within the narcissist. Furthermore, the idea of revenge against those they feel have done them wrong also appears to be a trend within mass shootings.

In cases such as Elliot Rodger aged 22, who carried out a shooting near the University of California in July 2014 and Seung-Hui Cho aged 23, in the Virgina Tech shooting in April 2007 for example, both talked of revenge on those who had not included them, noticed them and were happy when they were not.

In their daily lives narcissists behave in a manner that is expected of them rather than truly feel.   They are immune to feelings of empathy and do not relate to others. Narcissists, you could say, operate more automatically and mechanically than most. The difficulty is, as they see nothing wrong with their personalities and behaviours they are not going to reach out to the medical profession for support or admit they have a problem.

Treatment of narcissistic personality disorder is thought to be possible however, the traits that make up this condition are a fundamental part of the individuals’ sense of self. These traits and resulting behaviours are what makes them who they are and who they believe themselves to be.

While there are many in this world who could be said to have narcissistic personalities to some degree, there are only a few true narcissists. This is a personality which while can be highly beneficial to the individual, can be highly dangerous and damaging to those around them.

To cite this article: Guy, F. (2015, Jul 21) hen Narcissistic Rage Ends In Murder. Crime Traveller. Retrieved from

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  • In the paragraph “After being psychologically tested he was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder showing all nine traits on the scale.” What are the nine traits on the scale?

  • Hi Jocelyn, the nine traits on the narcissistic scale are;

    1) grandiosity
    2) a preoccupation with success and power
    3) a feeling of being unique
    4) a requirement of excess admiration
    5) sense of entitlement
    6) exploitative
    7) lack of empathy
    8) being envious
    9) being arrogant and domineering

    I have another article on narcissism and why it can be dangerious, which includes an infographic on the nine traits on the scale and more detailed information on each one. Here is the link –

    Thanks for your question, I’ll add this link in the paragraph you highlighted too!

  • Malignant narcissist are not rare just unreported. They hide well under their masks, undetected except by those they abuse and torture unmercifully and relentlessly. The victims are starting to speak up and I promise you rare is NOT the case. Victims tend to stay silent in an effort to protect themselves from the narcissists rage and smear campaigns. Also, very little support when they do try to tell someone as it is not yet a topic most people are even remotely familiar with. Even licensed psychiatrist tend to dismiss victims and do not properly address this disorder. The narcissist sure never admits it or goes in for help. THE NUMBERS ARE MASSIVELY UNREPORTED. It is getting worse and worse.

  • Hi Nicole, thanks for your comments. It is a horrible thought that there are so many more victims of narcissists out there with no support or even people to take their experiences and abuse seriously if and when they do speak out. I would be interested to see what if any research has been carried out into this in terms of gaining a more accurate understanding of the extent of violence and abuse at the hands of those who rate highly on the narcissistic scale.

  • No support is an understatement…..when the local law and court system support the narcissist its unbearable….we live in fear that we are the ones who are going to be arrested.Any suggestions?

  • Totally agree. I make network for psychopath survivors. Narcissist survivors are the most common: Their ex partners or chiefs or parents are emotionally cold, manipulative, dominant and possessive. Cutting the tie to these people ends almost always up in stalking – often the rest of the narcissist’s life. Narcissists are often involved in high conflict divorces, which is actually same mechanism which can lead to murder: The victim has left the narcissist, and in order to regain control, the narcissist decides to bereave the victim of everyting: Children, house, job… and finally life, IF the narcissist can find a way to get away with it. That’s why so many Danish mothers escape out of Denmark after a divorce: Narcissists are common (between 1-10% of the population), but they are so controlled that only those close to them discover the narcissism.

  • You are so correct. So many people don’t completely understand this disorder. Raising awareness is imperative. I recently researched NPD in depth and found it perfectly matches my husband’s family…NPD father (only child with a self-centered dad) with 3 sons…three divorces and a three women who described their lives as “hell”. The pieces of the puzzle, so misdiagnosed by medical and psych professionals I questioned over the years, are coming together finally. As the victim (not enabler) of serious abuse…alienation, betrayal on many levels, serious manipulation, false blame / guilt, demanding apologies for these false accusations, gaslighting (lying about things that can’t be proven in order to make the victim doubt their sanity…takes many forms), on and on…for so long…the stress was / is immense…along with the long-term physical stress from major anxiety…and I hung on because I knew that to divorce would be worse because my husband would have more reason to place blame and alienate me from our children…and the divorce rate is higher for kids from divorced families and I did not want that for them. After 22 years of marriage we are now seeing a counselor with 30 years experience and he told me (in a solo session) that I waited too long and was possibly and enabler. …Really? Therapists are not suppose to be judgmental…especially on the second appointment! I was not an enabler. I was a victim of psychological abuse while trying to be an obedient Christian wife. I was a stabilizer and an ameliorator for my family and children as much as I could possibly be under the circumstances. Now that I know more about it…and am talking to more people and educating them…it is certainly not rare at all. And, in today’s “ME” society it is definitely getting worse. Get fully informed about NPD so you can be ready to help those with the problem and those being seriously adversely affected by it.

  • Yes, you are right. This has also been my experience. Ppl have NO idea, but hopefully the word can be spread & now with the President we have, people will start to truly understand.

  • I was always after my older sister to get her attention from childhood, but instead, she would reject me ignore me and try to manipulate my feelings and my parent’s feelings. Now at 47, I realize that she has the narcissist behavioral disorder, and that makes me feel relieved that I realize that she’ll never regret or behave the way she should. As a matter of fact, she comes closer to our parents only when there is money to get, otherwise she forgets them, and never takes responsibility for her duties towards our ill parents. I just want to get away from her because she always makes me unhappy. By the way, nothing is obvious in the presence of other people; she comes across as a very happy, delightful person with no problems whatsoever.

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