Narcissistic individuals often resist change and lack true empathy, making efforts to change them a challenging and emotionally taxing experience. It's important to be cautious not only of the grandiose narcissist, which is more commonly recognized, but also the covert narcissist, who may display their narcissistic traits in subtler ways.
A covert narcissist, also known as a vulnerable or closet narcissist, displays narcissistic traits in a more subtle and less overt manner compared to an overt narcissist.
Here are some key characteristics and behaviors of a covert narcissist:
1. Low Self-Esteem: Covert narcissists often suffer from low self-esteem and a fragile self-image. They may appear modest and self-effacing on the surface.
2. Insecurity: They are deeply insecure but may not openly admit it. They seek validation and admiration, but they do so more passively than overt narcissists.
3. Victim Mentality: Covert narcissists frequently play the victim card. They may emphasize their suffering and hardships, portraying themselves as unfortunate or misunderstood.
4. Manipulative: They use passive-aggressive tactics to get what they want. This can include guilt-tripping, silent treatment, or martyrdom to make others feel responsible for their happiness.
5. Lack of Empathy: Just like overt narcissists, covert narcissists struggle with empathy. They have difficulty understanding or relating to the emotions of others.
6. Grandiosity Hidden Behind Humility: While covert narcissists may appear humble, they still possess a sense of superiority and entitlement. They believe they deserve special treatment and admiration.
7. High Sensitivity to Criticism: They are hypersensitive to criticism and can react defensively or with hurt feelings when they perceive any form of rejection or negative feedback.
8. Selective Intimacy: Covert narcissists may only reveal their true narcissistic traits to those closest to them, keeping up a facade in social or professional settings.
9. Mood Swings: They may exhibit unpredictable mood swings, making it challenging for others to understand their emotional state.
10. Control Through Pity: Covert narcissists often gain control or attention by eliciting pity or sympathy from others, making them feel needed or guilty for not helping.
11. Dependency: They may rely on others for emotional support and validation, often using close relationships as their primary source of narcissistic supply.
12. Subtle Manipulation: Their manipulation tactics are subtle and passive, making it difficult for others to recognize their narcissistic behavior.
Not all individuals who exhibit some of these traits are necessarily covert narcissists. These characteristics exist on a spectrum, and a qualified mental health professional should be consulted for a proper diagnosis and guidance in dealing with someone displaying these behaviors.
Overt narcissists typically exhibit more obvious and grandiose narcissistic traits. These traits can include:
1. Grandiosity: Overt narcissists often have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe they are superior to others in various aspects of life.
2. Need for Admiration: They constantly seek and require admiration and validation from others to bolster their self-esteem.
3. Lack of Empathy: Overt narcissists may struggle to understand or care about the feelings and needs of others, often displaying a lack of true empathy.
4. Sense of Entitlement: They believe they are entitled to special treatment and privileges and can be demanding and exploitative in their interactions.
5. Manipulation: Overt narcissists may use manipulative tactics to achieve their goals, such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or playing the victim.
6. Attention-Seeking: They often crave attention and will go to great lengths to be the center of focus in social situations.
7. Fragile Self-Esteem: Paradoxically, their grandiose exterior may hide a fragile self-esteem that is easily wounded by criticism or perceived slights.
8. Difficulty Maintaining Relationships: Overt narcissists may have tumultuous or shallow relationships, as their self-centered behavior can strain connections with others.
9. Arrogance: They tend to display a sense of arrogance and superiority, belittling or demeaning those they perceive as inferior.
Narcissism exists on a spectrum, and not all individuals with narcissistic traits will display every one of these characteristics. Some may exhibit these traits more prominently than others, and narcissistic traits can vary in intensity from person to person. In some cases, individuals may exhibit a combination of both covert and overt narcissistic traits.
Here are some terminologies and behaviors associated with narcissists:
1. Gaslighting: Manipulative behavior where the narcissist tries to make you doubt your own perception, memory, or reality.
2. Hoovering: When a narcissist tries to suck you back into a relationship or situation after discarding you.
3. Love Bombing: Excessive and intense displays of affection and attention to win someone over, often at the beginning of a relationship.
4. Triangulation: Involving a third party (real or imagined) to create jealousy, competition, or insecurity in a relationship.
5. Projection: Attributing one's negative qualities or actions to another person.
6. Blame-Shifting: Avoiding responsibility by placing blame on others.
7. Mirroring: Mimicking your interests, values, and personality to create a false sense of connection.
8. Devaluation and Discard: Treating someone as less valuable or even disposable, often followed by abruptly ending the relationship.
9. Narcissistic Supply: The attention, admiration, or reactions a narcissist seeks to validate their self-worth.
10. Flying Monkeys: People the narcissist enlists to do their bidding or support their manipulation.
11. Silent Treatment: Ignoring or refusing to communicate with someone to gain control or punish.
12. Drama Creation: Instigating conflicts, drama, or chaos to maintain control and attention.
13. Entitlement: A belief that they are inherently deserving of special treatment and privileges.
14. Grandiosity: An inflated sense of self-importance and superiority.
15. Lack of Empathy: Difficulty understanding or caring about the feelings of others.
16. Pathological Lies: Habitual, often unnecessary, and elaborate lying to manipulate and maintain a false image.
17. Idealization: Putting someone on a pedestal, followed by inevitable disappointment.
18. Smear Campaign: Spreading false information or rumors to damage someone's reputation.
19. Triangulation: Creating competition or jealousy by involving a third party in the relationship.
20. Isolation: Attempting to cut someone off from their support network to gain control.
These terms and behaviors are often associated with narcissistic personality traits and can be used to describe various aspects of their behavior and manipulation tactics.
By Dr Purity Carr
GP and Menopause Specialists