A personality trait like narcissism has existed since the existence of humanity. We have had such personalities in the past as well as in the present. Be it Adolf Hitler’s fantasy of becoming the world’s greatest and most powerful leader by exterminating Jews or Kanye West, who often claims himself to be The God, narcissistic personalities are quite often infamous for the immense love they express for themselves and their excessive lack of empathy and regard for others.
Therefore, the term narcissism may often be used casually in today’s time, but in psychological terms, narcissism doesn’t mean self-love—at least not of a genuine sort. So, let’s understand what NPD actually is.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?
Ever pondered about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? It's a diagnosable personality disorder where people have this inflated self-image and a lack of empathy. What's interesting is that narcissists depend heavily on external attention and praise to feel special and important. But what happens when they don't get that? It can trigger defensive reactions and even lead to destructive behavior. Let's understand the different complexities of NPD and see how it can affect our relationships.
14 Different Types of Narcissism
Did you know that narcissism can occur in various ways? From grandiose to covert, there are different types of narcissists out there. While Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a recognized diagnosis, these 14 common types provide a closer look at the different faces of narcissism. Let's explore them together!
1. Hidden Narcissism
Hidden narcissists, also referred to as vulnerable narcissists, often come across as shy, reserved, self-critical, and anxious, even though they harbor deep emotional fragility, chronic envy, and struggle with accepting criticism. These types of narcissists frequently measure their own happiness, possessions, and relationships against those of others, leading them to isolate themselves and potentially face higher levels of suicidal thoughts compared to other individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
2. Vulnerable Narcissism
Vulnerable narcissists possess an intense need to be constantly alert for potential threats. When combined with narcissistic traits, this results in individuals who are perpetually scanning their surroundings for any signs of criticism or insults from others. These individuals fear rejection to an extreme extent and tend to perceive even innocent behavior as personal slights or belittlement.
Vulnerable narcissists find it difficult to relax in social situations as they are constantly on high alert, listening attentively for any indication of disrespect or devaluation. While they crave attention and admiration from others, they struggle to cope with the risks of rejection or abandonment that often arise in social interactions.
3. Somatic Narcissism
Somatic narcissism indicates one of the types of narcissism where individuals primarily focus on their physical appearance and attractiveness. Somatic narcissists derive their self-worth and validation from their physical attributes, such as their body, beauty, or sexual appeal. They prioritize their looks and often engage in excessive grooming, cosmetic procedures, or intense physical fitness regimens to maintain their desired image.
Somatic narcissists seek constant attention and admiration for their physical appearance, and they may use their attractiveness as a means of gaining power and control over others. They believe that their physical attributes make them superior to others and expect special treatment based on their appearance. Their self-esteem is strongly tied to their physical attractiveness, and they may struggle with feelings of insecurity or worthlessness if they perceive any decline in their physical appeal.
4. Cerebral Narcissism
Cerebral narcissism is one of the types of narcissism where individuals derive their sense of self-importance from being seen as intelligent and knowledgeable. These individuals often have a strong need to be recognized for their intellect and may constantly showcase their intelligence to others.
Cerebral narcissists tend to be self-centered and use their intelligence as a weapon against others. They may boast about their knowledge, correct others excessively, and downplay the intellectual abilities of those around them. While they may have above-average intelligence, they often exaggerate their level of education and expertise to hide their own insecurities and lack of self-awareness.
5. Healthy narcissism
Embracing healthy narcissism may seem contradictory, but it can actually bring many benefits. Having a realistic and positive sense of self-worth is essential for a person's well-being and confidence. Healthy narcissists understand their own needs and prioritize them without feeling guilty. They may share their accomplishments with others, but their intention is not solely to seek admiration.
Healthy narcissists are among the different types of narcissists who possess self-assurance, resilience, and determination. They don't rely on charm, exaggerated self-importance, or transactional behaviors to attract friends or partners. Instead, their self-confidence, clear boundaries, commitment to personal growth, and consideration for their own needs and the needs of others make them appealing individuals that others would genuinely like to be around.
6. Spiritual Narcissism
Spiritual narcissism represents individuals who gain a sense of importance and worth from their faith and the control they have over others. These types of narcissists use their spirituality to harm others by using shame, fear, or manipulative tactics. They bring up spirituality in every conversation, judge others based on their spiritual beliefs, and cherry-pick scriptures to support their own views while ignoring contradictory evidence.
While anyone can exhibit spiritual narcissism, it is often observed in people in positions of power or those who have experienced significant life changes and turned to spirituality for support.
7. Grandiose narcissism
Grandiose narcissism is one of the types of narcissism characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a strong need for admiration, and a belief in one's exceptional abilities and achievements. Individuals with grandiose narcissism often exhibit a sense of entitlement and have an exaggerated belief in their own superiority. They constantly seek attention, validation, and admiration from others.
Grandiose narcissists tend to have a grandiose and exaggerated self-image, believing they are more talented, attractive, and successful than others. They have a strong desire for power and dominance and may exploit others to fulfill their own needs. They often lack empathy and struggle to form deep and genuine connections with others, as they prioritize their own self-interest and seek relationships that serve to boost their ego.
8. Vindictive Narcissism
Vindictive narcissism describes a specific type of narcissistic behavior where individuals become extremely sensitive to disagreements, setting boundaries, rejection, or any perceived criticism. They take these experiences very personally and feel deeply hurt, although they won't admit it. In response, they may engage in attacks and intimidation against the person they see as unreasonable. Vindictive narcissists may resort to harmful actions such as damaging someone's career or reputation, reacting with intense anger known as narcissistic rage, blackmailing, or spreading gossip about others. They tend to hold a grudge and remain unforgiving towards the person who hurt them, even if they receive an apology or find out that the incident that upset them never actually occurred.
9. Malignant Narcissism
Malignant narcissism denotes one of the types of narcissism and antisocial personality traits. People with this condition exhibit arrogance, a strong desire for power and recognition, a lack of empathy, a tendency to use and exploit others, and even derive pleasure from mistreating others. Malignant narcissists often experience significant impairments in various areas of their lives, struggle with relationships, and show poorer responses to treatment compared to those with typical NPD.
10. Antagonistic Narcissism
Antagonistic narcissism describes individuals who possess narcissistic traits along with an antagonistic personality. They lack the charm typically associated with other narcissistic types and instead display unattractive qualities such as entitlement, arrogance, a lack of empathy, and a disregard for the well-being of others. Their antagonistic nature makes them highly defensive, prone to assuming the worst in others' comments, and quick to respond with anger to both real and perceived slights.
11. Exhibitionist Narcissism
Exhibitionist narcissism refers to specific types of narcissism characterized by a need for constant attention, admiration, and validation from others. Individuals with exhibitionist narcissism have a strong desire to be the center of attention and often engage in attention-seeking behaviors to gain recognition.
Exhibitionist narcissists have a strong need for constant validation and may engage in attention-seeking behaviors such as showing off, boasting, or seeking praise. They often seek out situations or platforms where they can display their talents or accomplishments to an audience. However, their self-esteem is fragile and dependent on external validation, making them vulnerable to criticism or rejection.
12. Sexual Narcissism
Sexual narcissism depicts individuals who prioritize their own sexual desires and satisfaction above others. They lack empathy for their sexual partners, have an inflated sense of their own sexual prowess, and expect constant praise for their performance. They feel entitled to sex on their terms and may display a one-sided, transactional approach to sexual relationships.
While initially appearing romantic and passionate, sexual encounters with a narcissist often become imbalanced, self-serving, and potentially even aggressive. Despite their outward confidence in their sexual abilities, sexual narcissists may struggle with emotional intimacy and have difficulty forming genuine connections with their partners.
13. Communal Narcissism
Communal narcissism is among the different types of narcissism that describe individuals who have an inflated sense of self-importance within a community setting. They believe they possess exceptional qualities and abilities, considering themselves the best listeners, helpers, socializers, and most charitable individuals. However, in reality, they are often hypocritical, as their primary focus is meeting their own needs rather than genuinely helping others.
14. Overt Narcissism
When it comes to overt narcissism, these individuals have an insatiable need for admiration and attention. They constantly exaggerate their achievements and talents, going to great lengths to impress those around them. In their minds, they genuinely believe that they are superior and more deserving than others. It's as if they live in their own grandiose world, where they are the center of the universe.
One notable aspect of overt narcissism is their inability to acknowledge any flaws or weaknesses within themselves. They may be quick to point out the shortcomings of others, but when it comes to self-reflection, they fall short. This lack of self-awareness can be frustrating to deal with, as they rarely take responsibility for their actions or consider how their behavior affects others.
How to Deal With a Narcissist
Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging, but with some strategies, we can navigate these situations more effectively. When you find yourself dealing with a narcissistic individual, here are some tips that might help:
1. Set clear boundaries
Establishing boundaries is crucial when dealing with a narcissist. Clearly communicate what you are comfortable with and what is not acceptable behavior. It's okay to prioritize your well-being.
2. Stay calm and composed
Narcissists often thrive on drama and attention. By staying calm and composed, you can avoid feeding into their need for conflict. Take a deep breath, focus on your emotions, and respond in a rational manner.
3. Don't take it personally
Narcissists have a way of making everything about themselves. Note that their behavior is a reflection of their own insecurities and not a true reflection of your worth or capabilities. Don't internalize their criticisms or let their words define you.
4. Maintain realistic expectations
Narcissists may promise the world and exaggerate their abilities. However, be realistic about what they can actually deliver. Keep your expectations grounded and rely on your own strengths and resources.
5. Seek support from others
Dealing with a narcissist can be draining and emotionally challenging. Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist who can provide support, perspective, and guidance during these difficult times.
6. Focus on self-care
Taking care of yourself is essential when dealing with a narcissistic individual. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Practice self-compassion and prioritize your well-being. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
7. Limit contact when necessary
If the relationship with the narcissist becomes toxic and detrimental to your well-being, it may be necessary to limit or even cut off contact. This decision is deeply personal and should be made with careful consideration for your mental and emotional health.
Can a narcissist change?
Yes, change is possible for anyone, but it requires genuine self-reflection, willingness to seek help, and a strong commitment to personal growth. A lot of people believe that a narcissist can never change because personality disorders are not curable. However, if someone with NPD is willing to go to therapy, they might be able to learn how to understand and care about others more and work on their narcissistic behaviors.
The problem is that many narcissists don't want to go to therapy because they often don't realize that they need to change. They lack self-awareness and may think their narcissistic behavior is acceptable. In these cases, it's unlikely that they will change. Therefore, make them aware of the importance of therapy and how it can change them. This way, eventually, you can transform this behavior.
Treatment Options for Managing Narcissism
If you or someone you know is dealing with narcissism, there are treatment options available to help manage it. One effective option is individual therapy, where you can work with a therapist to address your thoughts and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common approach that helps you change your thinking patterns and make positive changes in your life.
In some cases, couples counseling or family therapy can be beneficial if the narcissist is willing to participate and gain insight into their disorder. It’s excellent to find a therapist who specializes in narcissism and understands your specific needs.
How can Now&Me help you?
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