Exposing Covert Narcissism

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Exposing Covert Narcissism

Individuals who are covert narcissists will present themselves to others as vulnerable and misunderstood/ Photo By Nadezhda Manakhova via Shutterstock


Overly narcissistic people may be easy to point out in plain sight. They are usually the ones who try to hoard attention or make themselves appear that they are more superior than others. They have this belief that they are always the best and have an inflated sense of self-esteem.

However, most people fail to see that narcissism can come in different forms. There is a type of narcissism that can often be misconstrued for merely being sensitive, introverted or shy. Narcissism of this nature is much more dangerous than regular or grandiose narcissism.

Individuals who are covert narcissists will present themselves to others as vulnerable and misunderstood. When someone actually tries to help them, that is when the covert narcissists will strike. They will use that person to fill in their narcissistic supply without them even noticing because it is very subtle.

According to Healthy Place, around 0.5% to 1% of the general population are narcissists. A study shows that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is more common among men.


0.5% to 1% of the general population are narcissists/ Photo By Ollyy via Shutterstock


What Is Grandiose Narcissism?

Grandiose Narcissism is described by Wise Geek as a condition where a person does not feel empathy for others, has an extreme sense of self-importance and will use others to gain the upper hand, even if it is just emotionally. This disorder was named after a character in Greek Mythology, Narcissus, an incredibly good-looking man who turned down all his female admirers and fell in love with his reflection.

Typical narcissists are often characterized as being extroverted or the center of attention. They tend to be over the top and make sure the “spotlight” is focused on them, says the Depression Alliance. Since the narcissist is extremely self-centered, they will stubbornly stick to their own perception while disregarding other people’s point of view.

What Is Covert Narcissism?

Covert Narcissism, as the name implies is a more hidden kind of narcissism. This is identified in the manner a person dramatically gets depressed or loses self-esteem over perceived or real criticism. This is also known by the names Vulnerable Narcissism, Hypersensitive Narcissism and Closet Narcisissm.

Covert narcissists tend to dislike those who are too extravagant or showy. They are also prone to presenting themselves as victims and trying to resolve problems with their passive aggressiveness.

Those who are affected by this kind of narcissism are said to experience emotional highs and lows that are similar to people who have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  When faced with a conflict, they may warn the person that they will engage in self-harm as a way to win or escape from it. Though they may threaten to do self-harm, they often will not actually follow through.

With the availability of social media, they are able to connect to the world in such a way that it goes on their terms. Most covert narcissists try to mold their social media profiles that present them in a good light, no matter how much effort they need to exert or time they need to spend on it.

Social media is just one example of their sources of narcissistic supply

Many people may describe them as resentful and will not attempt to get into new relationships can attain their high and unrealistic standards.


feelings of inferiority and suspicion may be a factor in why a person has become a covert narcissist/ Photo By Ollyy via Shutterstock



Many mental health experts believe that repressed feelings of inferiority and suspicion may be a factor in why a person has become a covert narcissist. They also may be experiencing hidden feelings of jealousy and admiration for what others have in their life, including their talents, possessions and relationships.

This secret admiration that they have for other people’s way of leading can cause them to become skeptical when dealing with others and hate most people.  They will do anything to shield their perceived self-esteem.


How to Treat Them

It is said that having to deal a covert narcissist can be draining. Agreeing with them rather than trying to counter their frequent cries of pity would be much easier to do.

In communicating with them, one must interact with them empathically. A person must understand that they only tend to act negatively due their inner imperfections. They will be able to calm the covert narcissist down if they reassure them in small doses.

Next, while having to deal with a covert narcissist, the individual must provide them with attention in such a way that it does distract them or interfere with their goals. Even though their anxieties and insecurities may potentially try to hinder them from achieving them, they should remember to focus on their aspirations.

Lastly, using humor can help win them over despite their sensitivity. If a person tries a more non-threatening and compassionate approach in dealing with them, they will tend to soften up. It is advised that the humor to be used should not be depreciating. Instead, it should show how bizarre the situation is.

Mindcology reminds others that the motivations of a covert narcissist are self-serving.  Their actions and behaviors are a result of desiring to find a sense of self by seeking validation and praise from those around them. Although they are not as wild and noisy as the usual narcissists, their behavior can be equally as harmful.  This is because subtly influence people to give them the adoration and love that they long for so much.



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