Narcissistic-aggressive type (NA)
From: "NPA Personality Theory"
© 2008 A.M. Benis
Sanguine non-perfectionistic aggressive type
NA types tend to be sanguine-complexioned, hyperactive extroverts. Both traits of ambition, i.e., N and A, are fully expressed. High temperament individuals, in particular, may be characterized by hypersexual behavior that is not conducive to stable relationships. If the trait of aggression predominates, then the NA type may exhibit sadistic behavior.
Animal Model: Some chimpanzees
Inheritance pattern: An NA type can have parents of any combination of the other character types. Two NA types can have children of only NA types.
Infertility: No increased probability of miscarriages and stillbirths when mated with any other character type.
Rage: Narcissistic rage (mass discharge of parasympathetic nervous system), or aggressive-vindictive rage (mass discharge of sympathetic nervous system), or combined NA rage.
Also known as: Cyclothymic, histrionic, hysterical or hypomanic-depressive personality. "The ambitious predator." The prima donna.
Complexion: Tending toward sanguine or flushed in individuals of light skin color.
Smile: Flashy, glamorous, toothy smile of movie star.
Photograph: Looks at camera. Extroverted, flashy smile.
Gestures: Active or hyperactive gestures. Often seductive body contact in casual social situations.
Handwriting: Variable, non-perfectionistic. Often rounded, elegant letters in female.
Sexuality: Tendency to promiscuity: high. Tendency to ambivalence in sexual orientation: low.
Population Genetics: "The Corybantic Habitancy," having a high prevalence of NA types. (Examples: Brazil, Venezuela, Senegal, indigenous New Guinea & Bougainville).
Susceptibilities: Attention deficit disorders. Hysteria, hypochondria, fugues. Hypomanic personality. Histrionic personality disorder. Bipolar, Manic-depressive disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
Pitfalls: High temperament N types can resemble NA types. Hyperactive NPA types can resemble NA types. High temperament, zany, pseudonarcissistic PA types can superficially mimic NA types. A sullen, depressed NA type can resemble a PA type.
From Chapter 5: A model of human behavior
Narcissistic-aggressive type (NA)
He would synergistically combine the mottos, "I am the most glorious" and "I am the most powerful". Thus, lacking the behavioral complex of perfectionism, his life is ruled by the unbridled ambition of the behavioral complexes of narcissism and aggression. We surmise that these two traits, as expressed separately in the N and A personages, would be found together in this individual. The synergistic drives for both power and glory must produce an extroverted, hyperactive individual. Given the pride invested in "I am beautiful" and "I am powerful," one would expect this individual to be domineering, sometimes with an almost megalomanic drive for ambition, in power, glory and sexual domination. This individual lacks concerted perfectionist qualities, hence his search for power and glory is likely to be superficial, spasmodic and lacking in direction. When reduced to the subdued state NA- this individual strongly resembles the self-flaunting unaggressive narcissistic personage N. Of course, he "plays the game", and with his hyperactivity and tendency toward "hypersexuality" he would involve himself in many compulsive dependencies, usually as the subjugator but sometimes as the subjugated individual. As is often the case in the dependency of subjugation, he may become overtly sadistic, especially in frustrating and in playing on the emotions of his subjugated companions, of which there may be several at one time. And he too, if opposed, seeks retribution in the self-justified vindictive triumph. This individual when frustrated can be incited to a narcissistic rage, an aggressive-vindictive rage, or a combined narcissistic-aggressive rage (NA rage). In the latter, the aggressive-vindictive component usually appears first, followed by the narcissistic rage of withdrawal as the individual leaves, slamming the door behind him. Finally, as in all character types, he is liable, when frustrated to a point of relative hopelessness, to enter an abject state of depression. In such a hyperactive individual, with ambition unchecked by the lack of perfectionism, we are drawn to propose that he is in some cases the histrionic, cyclothymic, or hypomanic-depressive personality of the psychiatric literature.
From Chapter 6: Character caricatures
This individual is driven by the instincts of narcissism and aggression, without mediation of these traits by that of perfectionism. Thus, the behavioral qualities found in the N and A personages may also appear in essentially unaltered form in the NA individual. Those qualities will not be repeated in detail here. This individual is an extrovert, there is no question about that. He usually has a moderately loud voice, but more than loud he is talkative, or outright loquacious. His loquacity is characterized by bursts of rapid speech and has a gossipy quality to it, often with the use of slang expressions, sexual innuendo, and many references to current fads. He is vivacious, flamboyant, flashy, theatrical and somewhat agitated. He may have a hyperactive, labile, mercurial quality and may employ openly seductive body language, accompanied by agitated gestures. He may be in a state of perpetual motion, literally being unable to sit still. Others may comment that "He runs around like a chicken with his head cut off". We might say that he has flounce and he has bounce. He may be described as charming, but his charm seems to lack any real depth, as if it were a highly-polished artificial veneer. He seems in posture and in manner to be self-assured, but his self-assurance, like his other qualities, seems to be superficial, as if it could be popped like a balloon. In the same way, he may be described as attractive, but more in the literal sense of being capable of attracting the opposite sex, rather than having the attributes of profound beauty. He does not hesitate to talk about any subject, in public or in private, with little regard as to whether it might cause embarrassment to his companion in conversation. In fact, he is practically unembarrassable. He may be "nosey". To use American parlance, "he has a lot of verve and a lot of nerve". With his agitation and vibrancy, his eye contact with others is often not good, and this is, once more, true to the extent that he feels himself to be above others. His laugh may be loud, penetrating and in the female shrill, but may seem to be forced. He smiles easily. The female can, with especial ease, flash a charming smile at will and hold it indefinitely, as if for a photograph. As was true for the A type, he is basically aggressive and must dominate over all others, in little matters and in big, in every way and throughout every day. If challenged, or even if not challenged, he may be arrogant, brash and belligerent. If a stressed relationship is to be terminated, whether with a friend, a colleague, an acquaintance or a mate, it must be terminated in the context of a vindictive triumph. And the snarling, vicious, directed vindictive rage is certainly in his repertoire but may rarely be seen. In his perpetual motion he fills up his time with trips, visits, classes and activities but is not really a "workaholic" in the sense of devoting himself to any real work. He is a dilettante. He is at his best in task-oriented activities. He tends to lack any deep sense of duty. Lacking in perfectionist qualities, he has little staying power. His most reliable attributes are his impulsiveness and his inconstancy. He is, if you listen to him, intensely ambitious and he may say so in those words, but there is a great discrepancy between his ambitions and his real accomplishments. Sometimes he seems propelled by the jetstream of his own self-generated hot air. He is extravagant. There is a definite proclivity to travel, preferably by airplane, and it seems as if someone else is always paying for his trip. He is an intensely social person, a partygoer, and indeed the classic "life of the party". And as he becomes older, lacking the staying power for satisfying his deep needs for accomplishment and affection, he senses that something is wrong, that perhaps he is not "normal". But more often than not he will acknowledge that of course he is not normal -- he is exceptional! His relations with the opposite sex may be characterized as troublesome, turbulent and tormenting. Although the range of variability in human behavior in the realm of sexuality is enormously wide, there is no question that many of these individuals place a premium on sexuality in their lives. Some of them could well be placed into the categories of satyriasis and nymphomania. He is a coquette, a tease, a bird of prey, a vampire. There may be a continual, compulsive search for sexual partners, ostensibly to satisfy a conscious desire for a stable relationship. Instead, there occurs only one turbulent, tormenting relationship after another, and he views the past in perplexed amazement as he recounts how many partners fell in love with him, how many wanted to marry him, and how many he crushed by leaving them abruptly. Why, oh why, he wonders, cannot he really fall in love? Why, oh why, does he end by treating his partners so scornfully, so sadistically? The answers to these questions are not difficult to find and lie, of course, in the narcissistic-aggressive character structure itself. His narcissistic self tells him that he is a grand person, thereby laying a framework of conceit. His aggressive, hedonistic instinct tells him that he must dominate his partner and get his pleasure while he can. And in dominating his partner, he cannot give of himself to him. He, thus, cannot provide his partner with the one thing that his partner craves for the most -- his tenderness. And as his partner clings to him more and more, all the more there is established a master-slave relationship. The master becomes alienated. His eyes become averted from the slave. And he begins to treat the slave with all of the tormenting, sadistic means that are available to him in the repertoire of muted, and not so muted, aggressive human behavior. The slave for his part is usually a weaker dominant type having an aggressive component, or a submissive type who becomes literally enslaved in a chronic state of subjugation. Here, it is truly fitting to call the relationship a "morbid dependency", the slave usually being totally incapable of extricating himself, however illogical the situation. The affair ends when the NA master moves on, sometimes sadistically playing off a former partner against his new interest, setting the stage for a new turbulent relationship. And this may be repeated again, again and again. If he marries and assumes the dominant role, then the marriage does not portend well. Unless the real life circumstances provide an enormous amount of compensatory cement to the marriage, the master will torment the slave subtly or overtly and finally leave him. If he assumes the subjugated role, then for much of the time lie will resemble the narcissistic N type, and his aggressive component will be strongly muted. The female of this character type, in modern Western society, may lead a particularly turbulent life. And given her total confusion with regard to the instinctual demons that are propelling her through life like a speedboat out of control, one cannot help but be sympathetic toward her. She feels that she is destined to do great things, but somehow feels that she is not "normal". She wants to work with others, but bitterly resents being asked to do anything for anyone. She has pride in her beauty, but somehow feels that she is physically flawed. It is perplexing to others how this individual, often frankly attractive, has almost invariably a negative body image of herself, a flaw, whether it be an imperfect complexion, an imperfect nose, this feature or that. Somehow her narcissistic voice demands physical "perfection" of herself. And in response to the disparate feelings of ugliness on the one hand, and the need to be a ravishing beauty on the other, she places an enormous investment in efforts to enhance her physical appearance. There is an emphasis on fashionable, perfectly-matching clothes, with price being no object, on accessories of dress, on her hair style, on nail polish, cosmetics and perfumes, and the like. In some cases this emphasis superficial qualities of personal adornment is so striking that one has the impression that she is gaudily attempting to gild a lily. With regard to her sexuality, in which there is so much pride invested, total confusion reigns. Being an aggressive type she instinctively scorns weakness, but all the while dreaming of a superman who will overpower her and possess her, she paradoxically seeks men whom she can dominate and subjugate. And in doing so, she almost invariably chooses among those who long for submission. And in dominating she wonders why she cannot submit to true love, why she cannot be tender, and why she is, despite all of her investment in sexuality, often sexually unresponsive. And it is in her unresponsiveness and in her need to dominate all aspects of a sexual relationship -- sometimes to the fringes of normality -- that one senses her desperation. It the desperation of a person who, despite the whirlwind of activity surrounding her, is essentially alone and forlorn in her life. It is the desperation of a voice crying in the wilderness. There is little doubt that an individual of the NA type (or N type) has a predilection for an older mate, as has been noted by literary figures of the past. For example, the playwright Henryk Ibsen, at the age of 61, became involved in an affair with a young predatory female, Emilie Bardach, who was to become the character Hilda Wangel in two of his plays. We can see, in fact, in Ibsen's play "The Master Builder" the broad outlines of what must have been basic dynamics of Ibsen's relationship with Emilie. The character Solness is clearly Ibsen himself, and although he is the object of Hilda's sexually predatory nature, this aspect is secondary. Solness is, to be sure, a sexual being, and even a father figure, but he is above all Hilda's ideal image of her unbridled ambition. We realize, now, why the NA female is drawn to an older man. It is the ulterior motive of the narcissistic behavioral complex that is telling her subliminally: "He is your ideal image. He is your promise of glory. You and he are one and the same. Lose yourself completely in him. Merge with him." Unfortunately, her aggressive nature is telling her, "Dominate him every day and in every way", hence her sadistic trends may ultimately doom any hopes for a stable relationship. In competitive society, if a female of this character type attempts to achieve success in a career, and at the same time dominate her erotic sphere, conflicts are bound to arise, as in the following example of a recent letter to newspaper columnist Ann Landers:
[Gannett newspapers, The Daily Item, August 12, 1980.]
« Dear Ann Landers:
I'm a 26-year-old career woman, and lately I've been experiencing severe anxiety attacks -- shortness of breath, pounding heart, sweaty palms, feelings of weakness and dizziness. Sometimes my hands shake so I can't hold anything.
I can't understand what is causing these symptoms. I'm doing well in my career and enjoy my work. My social life isn't great, but this doesn't bother me. I'd rather stay home than go with some of the creeps I see around town. Can you help me find some answers?
-- Wassau, Wis. »
But such a conflict is, of course, not one limited intrinsically to the female. As with other character types, we must ask ourselves whether any individual is, by his basic nature, suitable for a given life situation. Finally, we reiterate the wide range of emotional behavior of the NA type: his hypomanic highs and his abject depressive lows. He may be prone to obesity as he alternately overeats in splurges and then abstains from food entirely. He is particularly prone to psychosomatic illness, for example to headaches, intestinal problems, palpitations, or attacks of "nervousness". When intimidated he may split his personality abruptly to the NA- subdued state, where he becomes a narcissistic type with not a trace of aggression to be seen! This dramatic personality split, when it occurs, is truly remarkable. As an example of the emotional lability of the NA type, we consider Somerset Maugham's short story "Rain", where we find a young lady of the NA type, Sadie Thompson, abruptly change from a hypomanic state to one of abject depression: « The door was not opened. She got up and opened it. They saw Miss Thompson standing at the threshold. But the change in her appearance was extraordinary. This was no longer the flaunting hussy who had jeered at them in the road, but a broken, frightened woman. Her hair, as a rule so elaborately arranged, was tumbling untidily over her neck. She wore bedroom slippers and a skirt and blouse. They were unfresh and bedraggled. She stood at the door with the tears streaming down her face and did not dare to enter. »
Later, after she achieves a vindictive triumph, we read:
« They walked up the steps and entered the hall. Miss Thompson was standing at her door, chatting with a sailor. A sudden change had taken place in her. She was no longer the cowed drudge of the last days. She was dressed in all her finery, in her white dress, with the high shiny boots over which her fat legs bulged in their cotton stockings; her hair was elaborately arranged; and she wore that enormous hat covered with gaudy flowers. Her face was painted, her eyebrows were boldly black, and her lips were scarlet. She held herself erect. She was the flaunting queen that they had known at first. As they came in she broke into a loud, jeering laugh... » Finally, if we add to the NA individual's behavioral repertoire the occurrence of the narcissistic-aggressive rage, we see the extent to which this individual is a captive of his emotions.
Benis A.M. (1985, 2nd edition 2008): Chaps. 5 & 6, in Toward Self & Sanity: on the genetic origins of the human character. Psychological Dimensions, New York, pp. 53-54, 116-122.
Le Gallienne E. (1955): Henrik Ibsen: The Master Builder, N.Y University Press, New York.
Maugham W.S. (1951): The Complete Short Stories, Heinemann, London.