Narcissistic-perfectionist-aggressive type (NPA)

From:  "NPA Personality Theory"
©  2008 A.M. Benis

Narcissistic-perfectionistic-aggressive type

         NPA types tend to be sanguine-complexioned, overbearing maternalistic or paternalistic extroverts.  All three of the NPA traits are present and fully expressed.  The voice is LOUD and the eye contact intense.  They tend to be "conventional" in their dress and behavior.  Their greatest vulnerability is the tendency to explosive rages, often followed by forced affability or apologetics.  The female is sometimes denigrated as "masculine."

Phenotype:  NPA

Genotype:  nnPaa, nnPPaa

Animal Model:  Some chimpanzees

Inheritance pattern:  Two NPA types can have children of only NPA or 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:  Explosive personality.  Managerial-autocratic personality.  The overbearing achiever.  The sanguine autocratic tyrant.

Complexion:  Tending toward sanguine or flushed in individuals of light skin color.

Smile:  Warm paternalistic or maternalistic smile.

Photograph:  Looks at camera.  Relaxed smile.

Gestures:  Active or hyperactive gestures.  Intense eye contact with loud, penetrating voice.  Often non-seductive body contact in casual social situations.

Handwriting:  Variable.  Often perfectionistic but sometimes grossly illegible.

Sexuality:  Tendency to promiscuity:  low to moderate.  Tendency to ambivalence in sexual orientation:  very low.

Population Genetics:  "The Demonstrative Habitancy," having a high prevalence of NPA and NA types.  (Examples:  Mediterranean subpopulations, Colombia).

Susceptibilities:  Overbearing need for control.  Explosive personality disorder.  Megalomania.  Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Pitfalls:  In absolute power the NPA type can be a cruel disciplinarian, even a tyrant, resembling the behavior of the A type.  Hyperactive, promiscuous NPA types can resemble NA types.  Loud N types (especially male) can be confused with NPA types.

From Chapter 5:  A model of human behavior

Narcissistic-perfectionist-aggressive type (NPA)

         This individual obviously has a concurrent combination of all three of the behavioral complexes:  glory, perfection and power.  We would expect the following qualities: narcissistic ambition, perfectionistic attention to detail and sense of duty, and the aggressive need for triumph through power.  It is not difficult to surmise that this person would be outgoing, active, and sexually vigorous.

         This individual, having aggressive qualities, "plays the game", splits his personality to a subdued state when dominated, and his love is based on his narcissistic qualities, on the dynamics of the dependency of subjugation, as well as on his sense of perfectionist duty.

         This character would be the most susceptible to be incited to rages, since both his vanity based on narcissism and his pride based on omnipotence are subject to being wounded.  This is the narcissistic-perfectionistic-aggressive super-rage, or NPA rage.  This often begins with some violation, reasonable or not, of the individual's sense of perfection, order or justice.  That is, all rules should be followed exactly; everything should be exactly in its place.  After a few milliseconds of seething, an explosive rage bursts forth, first having an aggressive-vindictive quality to it and being personally directed.  Gradually it becomes directed to the horizon, and may finally end as a narcissistic rage of defense and withdrawal.  After the rage subsides, this individual's sense of duty may require him to apologize.  We believe, in fact, that this individual is the source of the explosive personality disorder of the psychiatric literature, and is described in the writings of Aristotle:

         « Quick-tempered people get angry quickly and with the wrong person, or for the wrong reasons, or more than is right.  But they soon get over being angry; indeed this is the best point about them.  It is because they do not control their anger; they are so quick-tempered that they retort bluntly and then have done... »

         Finally, we note that here we have found the personality type of the extroverted autocratic tyrant of the historical literature.  This imperious personality is known on the one hand for his sense of duty to his people, and on the other hand for his towering rages.  Indeed, there is no other character type that comes even close to resembling him.  Unfortunately, as we shall see, despite his apparent sense of duty, the NPA autocratic tyrant often finds himself with blood on his hands.

From Chapter 6:  Character caricatures

         There is no question about it.  He is an extrovert.  His complexion definitely tends toward the sanguine, especially if he is at all agitated.  His voice has an unrestrained quality.  It may be forceful.  In the female it may have a sharp, piercing quality.  His voice may be outright loud, even if he consciously tries not to be overbearing, which often he is.  His voice may be very, very LOUD.  It may be stentorian, especially in the male, and he may sometimes be heard at the far end of a railway car.  It is a voice that seems to long for diffuse dissemination, as he speaks at and through his partner in conversation.  It is a voice of narcissism ("how grand I am") and of aggression ("all of you had better listen to what I am saying").  Often he can be identified immediately by his forceful voice alone.

         This individual is not relaxed.  He radiates a certain intensity and activity, and like the NA type, he too may have difficulty keeping still.  In manner, he may be only moderately outgoing, especially if he is in circumstances where he is chronically dominated by stronger individuals.  On the other hand, he may be intensely outgoing, affably ebullient or outright truculent.  If he is only moderately intense, he has a certain amount of real charm, but sometimes he is so frankly overbearing that his charm is lost in his abrasiveness.  He is never at a loss for words.  At times he may talk, and talk... and talk.  And in his garrulity his smile and laughter may take on a forced intensity.

         He has a moderate gait and carries himself with relative confidence.  This individual seems to be going somewhere.  He usually makes intense eye contact with his partner in conversation, whether the latter be strong or weak, important or unimportant.  His prominent eyes have a spirited look about them and may seem to sparkle or even protrude.

         In the mature adult, he has a non-seductive maternalistic or paternalistic character, even if he is promiscuous.  In the female, she has more of a "wholesome" than a "sexy" demeanor.  If her voice is very forceful, her detractors will say that she is "not feminine," "brassy," or even "masculine."

         He is reliable, dependable and responsible.  He is faithful to his family and friends.  If he has children, he has affectionate pride in them and talks about them.  He is a "solid citizen."  He has a sense of duty to his profession, his colleagues, his business, perhaps his church, and his country.  He tends to have a sense of citizenship, of attachments, and of devotion to some ideals.  He is, shall we say... rather conventional.

         He is expansive, something of a perfectionist and a "doer."  His perfectionist tendencies are not as constraining as in the NP type, and he actually gets things done.  He likes to get the present job finished and move on to the next task, and he may be a true "workaholic," with his time filled with real activities.  Although he may be a procrastinator, he dislikes intensely any ambiguous situations, incomplete information, work half-finished, or any feeling of "loose strings hanging."  He tends to be impatient and sometimes impetuous. He cannot bear to stand and watch someone doing something slowly or fumbling about, and will immediately say, "Here, let me do it for you."

         We usually see in him a person who is cordial, but who has an air of self-importance.  And it is in this feeling of self-importance that there may emerge a barely concealed attitude of callousness, for example in being late for appointments or in downgrading the wishes and aspirations of others.

         His gestures are expansive.  He may have friendly body contact with his colleagues and acquaintances, but in contrast to that of the NA type, it is of a non-seductive nature.  His clothes are usually fitting for the occasion, but he is not one to devote himself to superficial fads or fashions.  In the male, especially, his shoes will be polished and his hair combed, but his clothes may even be somewhat ill-fitting.  He is, thus, more properly dressed than truly fashionably or gaudily dressed.  To the extent that narcissistic-perfectionist tendencies predominate, which is usually the case, he will make an effort to have clear, legible handwriting, even when he is in a hurry.

         In social situations, he may be at his best.  He is the classic after-dinner speaker.  He may be a master of inverted modesty in speaking before an audience (e.g., "He is an absolutely fantastic person").  He indulges in "hail-fellow-well-met."  At a social function he may shout across the crowded room to welcome a prestigious individual when the latter arrives.  He is sympathetic at the core, from his sense of duty, but does not tend to spout forth spontaneous sentimental affection.

          f someone does not uphold his standards of perfection, then he will become indignant.  He will spread his arms at the sides, with the palms up, in that characteristic stance of perfectionist incredulity.  "How could you let that happen?  Didn't you realize that...?  What is going on here?"  If criticized, he will respond immediately and arrogantly in defense, with no prior reflection on the merits of the criticism, like a porcupine bristling its quills.  If angered, he becomes sarcastic and ill-mannered; he becomes rude and he shouts.  He may become involved in shouting matches, or even fisticuffs, in public with strangers.  And if his pride or vanity is trampled upon, he may be incited to the narcissistic-perfectionistic-aggressive blind super-rage, which has been described earlier.  The intensity of this red-faced rage may shock others seeing it for the first time.  Many NPA individuals are intensely aware of this tendency and consciously attempt to keep a tight lid on their emotions, so that in fact the rage appears only infrequently.  We include  below an account of an American baseball game, in which the aggressive and narcissistic components of a rage are apparently seen:

[Gannett Newspapers, The Daily Item, September 3, 1980.]

         « NEW YORK -- In case you missed it, Lou Piniella went 2-for-4 Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium as the Yanks handed the Oakland A's their sixth straight loss, 6 to1.

Problem is, Piniella thought he should have been 3-for-4.  In the bottom of the seventh, he hit a liner to right, and Tony Armas, after a long run, dropped the ball.

"Error, right fielder," said official scorer Harold Rosenthal, a retired member of the Baseball Writer's Association of America and well-known author.

At second base, Piniella spread his arms wide apart, in total disbelief.

That was half the fun.  After the game, it was vintage Piniella, howling, screaming and storming.  "I'm going to strangle him," Piniella roared.  "I'm going to his house and choke him."

"If they don't change that scoring and give me a hit," Piniella continued, "I'm through playing baseball for the year.  I quit this game"... »

         If an NPA individual is subjugated in a long-term relationship with a companion or mate, and in particular by a "power behind the throne," then for much of his daily life his aggressive component will be strongly muted.  He may thus appear as an individual somewhat placidly riding the merry-go-round of life, apparently little motivated and somehow "lacking in ambition."

         Moving on to an NPA individual who is overtly power-seeking, he is sometimes grandiloquent, and he may lose all sense of propriety.  One senses that he is often making a conscious effort to be not overly overbearing or too dominating.  He assumes leadership because he thinks -- nay he knows -- that he is the best one for the job.  But despite his efforts to convince others and himself that he is not aggressive in a cutthroat manner, he has a pervasive inward feeling that no one should push him around and that he should attain heights of excellence -- that he should succeed to the very limits of his ambition.  As in other aggressive types, but in a form muted by his sense of duty, there emerges the deep conviction that he should be above the masses and above the competition.  It is a conviction fed by narcissistic ambition acting synergistically with his innate aggressive drive, with both being forged and tempered by the behavioral complex of perfectionism.

         If he aspires to be "the boss," then the boss he is -- there is no question about it -- and his sense of restraint may fade.  He may reveal a barely camouflaged arrogance.  He then requires that his instinct for perfectionism be fulfilled.  He requires that others pay constant attention to the details that his sense of "doing things well" requires.  He demands "spit and polish."  He insists on punctuality.  He requires the continual approbation of his colleagues but would be embarrassed by their overt adulation.

         He will dominate the conversation in a group. He tends to speak compulsively at conferences.  If a difference of opinion arises, he will become agitated and will feel that he must have the last word.

         He has pride in his honesty.  Overt prevarication is anathema to him.  However, to maintain his position of dominance, which he somehow feels in his bones is a right granted to him directly from the heavens, he will have no compunction with regard to the withholding of information that his opponents might use against him.

         If he is not so much a boss than an upcoming achiever, for example in a hierarchal structure, then he becomes an "expert" in some field.  Once his area of expertise is established it tends to expand in two ways.  First, it expands in his own mind so that he becomes an expert not just in his narrow field but in the broader areas of technology, science, education or philosophy.  Second, it becomes, by his own word of mouth, disseminated in time and space:  everyone should have the benefit of his expertise.

         Despite his often overbearing demeanor he has pride in his manners, in decorum, and he rarely would insult an individual to his face.  Vindictiveness toward others and sadistic behavior may be overt, it is true, but usually it is well camouflaged and only subtly present.  It may take the form of apparently good-natured but persistent teasing of a subordinate or opponent, being condescending toward him, overpowering him in public under a mass of sarcastic verbiage, or in that passive vindictive triumph that has been classic since time immemorial, simply leaving without saying good-bye.

         As a leader or as a head of the family, he becomes an autocrat and cannot tolerate insubordination.  He is the classic martinet with panache.  The slightest indication of disloyalty may be dealt with unbounded harshness, and no punishment, even corporal punishment, will be excessive.  Family members will not be exempt.  Although others may stand aghast at the intensity of his vengeance, to his own mind he is a misunderstood man of mercy whose hand is occasionally forced to mete out harsh justice.  In such circumstances his only saving grace is that he tends to mellow with age.

         If he comes to absolute power, then he may become the standard bearer of unlimited power and glory.  He becomes Friedrich Wilhelm I and Ivan the Terrible.  Yea, he becomes Barbarossa and Akbar of Hindustan!

         As an aggressive type, the NPA individual certainly "plays the game" of dominance and submission, but the "game" is often muted by his sense of duty.  His aggressive tendencies are moderated by the behavioral complex of perfectionism, but in the framework of narcissistic behavior, the resultant character structure is very different from that of the PA type.  In marriage he will usually be a devoted and faithful to his mate.  But if the relationship goes awry, he will become a somewhat passive "situational sadist" and may finally attempt to extricate himself.  He may be sexually promiscuous.  In other words, his sense of duty has limits.

         Finally, like his cousin the NP type, he too has made a "deal with life", though in muted form.  If he takes care of the business of life, then the business of life should take care of him.  And if it does not, then life's failures are taken very, very hard, subjecting this active, vigorous individual to the depths of an abject state.  When he falls, it is all the more painful, because it is, in his own mind, the mighty who has fallen.

         In the final analysis, this individual, too, is a prisoner of his character structure, and he is puzzled by the demons that seem to be driving him in three different directions.  His life may be one of constant turbulence as he tries to streamline his narcissistic, perfectionistic and aggressive traits into a cohesive unity, all the while trying to keep a lid on his NPA super-rage.  And it is only in looking into his character structure that he may begin to create for himself a life situation that is compatible with psychic survival in his human society.


1.  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. 56-57, 122-128.

2.  Aristotle (ca. 350 B.C.):  "Nicomachean Ethics," in Loomis L.R. (1943):  Aristotle:  On Man in the Universe, W.J. Black, New York.


N type

A type

NA type

NP type

PA type

NPA type




NPA sites

NPA theory

personality test


book / eBook