John Price (1995) writes about two forms of social competition in human and primate societies. He calls these agonistic and prestige competition. Agonistic competition refers to the establishment of rank order by dominance/submission tactics in which punishments or intimidations are applied from one competitor to another. This is the common mode in vertebrates. Prestige competition, on the other hand, is executed in reference to the group via approval, influence, and esteem bestowed by the judgments of the group; status, then, is a group approval reward as opposed to a "might makes right" dyadic achievement. Prestige competition is found in primates and humans. Price (1995) discusses how these two modes of competition and social interchange in most situations are mutually incompatible, and, in fact, agonistic competition is usually proscribed by human society. The direct agonistic mode of competition such as overt aggression over a rival occurs in the "margins" of society like on the street corner or the playground; I would add also that it occurs in regressed states (under stress, intoxicants, etc.) and that there clearly are individual differences in inhibitions against agonistic behavior (temperament, psychopathological syndromes, etc).
So far I do not think I have made any major conceptual leaps from where Price (1995) lays out his views. However, I would like to suggest that in the clinical narcissistic spectrum disorders, what one finds is a fusion or conflation of the agonistic and competition modes. That is, the desparate quest for approval/recognition serves needs for interpersonal power accomplished by establishing oneself as better than the other who is actively (but perhaps silently) devalued. The clinical syndromes seen with significant narcissistic personality problems would be regarded as expressions of primitive agonistic motivations internalized and enacted through prestige competition behavior. Unconsciously, then, pathologically narcissisticly driven behavior remains dyadic (agonistic) even if it is acted out through displays for a larger group. Thus, evolutionary concepts of power and competition within social groups may be fitted with concepts of narcissistic development and psychopathology. If this beginning analysis has merit, it would represent another way of integrating biological and psychological domains through evolutionary psychology.
I would be interested in any thoughts on this matter.