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Consider the extreme example of a person exerting all efforts to defame people around them, whether in work or their own social group, collecting innocent emails and letters from people and later trying to use them as an evidence that those people have lied and are corrupt or 'unworthy'.

However, they go to all lengths to protect their own integrity and 'uprightness' by comparing themselves to the so-called liars and unworthy people by always mentioning their own good points etc.

I thought about 'Character assassin' or 'defamer' but it doesn't seem to give the full meaning.

Is their not a word / term used by psychiatrists to describe such a person?

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How about politician? – Matt E. Эллен May 1 '12 at 10:27
@Matt You're right, seriously. – Kris May 1 '12 at 10:53
Only implicationally does a 'hypocrite' match the description. – Mitch May 1 '12 at 12:57
@Matt - I have a better word than your: italian-politician. – user19148 May 1 '12 at 23:40
up vote 0 down vote accepted

A pair of words, that would be more descriptive than an accurate label, could be insecure narcissist. Further, it snugs in under the guise of an "oxymoron", seemingly.

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I don't think insecure conveys the malicious nature illustrated in the question. sociopath is much more applicable. Especially the first 4 bullet points in particular. – Jarrod Roberson May 2 '12 at 18:06

Such a person could be called self righteous.

Although someone could be self righteous without necessarily also being a slanderer, it is often the case that a self righteous person is also critical of the flaws they perceive in others.

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At the risk of being dramatic, they sound sociopathic.

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That person would be a twofaced, duplicitous, double-dealing, underhanded, backstabbing snake in the grass.

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A calumniator or slanderer is defined as someone who maliciously and without reason imputes a crime or fault to another, of which he is innocent. To calumniate means to make maliciously or knowingly false statements about someone.

What you describe is known as "building yourself up by tearing others down." People who engage in that behavior are probably suffering from low self-esteem, but I don't know if there is a psychiatric term that applies to such a person (or if you really should label someone with a psychiatric term).

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"Calumniator". I like it. Plus it has the advantage that this calumniator probably doesn't know what it means, so will not retaliate when I call him that... – GEdgar May 1 '12 at 14:40

I agree that "sociopathic" may come closest to an accurate psychological label for the behavior described, but I think that a metaphorical characterization may be even more apt. In that spirit, I recommend "sanctimonious viper." According to Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003), "sanctimonious" means "hypocritically pious or devout," which captures the aspect of false virtuousness, and a "viper" is a venomous snake.

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"Sneaky" is the best I can think of (behaving in a secret and sometimes dishonest or unpleasant way).

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I would call that person a disparager.


  1. To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way; belittle. See Synonyms at decry.
  2. To reduce in esteem or rank.

dis·parage·ment n. dis·parag·er n. dis·parag·ing·ly adv.

EDIT: Thank you, jwpat7, I did copy this from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/disparager

disparager. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved May 1 2012 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/disparager

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If you copied this from someplace, edit the question and say where the definition is from. – jwpat7 May 1 '12 at 13:31

Maybe "mean" would sum it all up.

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I don't think this is a specific enough meaning for the above description. Someone who is mean could be exhibiting any number of cruel behaviours. – Matt E. Эллен May 1 '12 at 11:56

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