Narcissism is extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes a person ignore the needs of those around them. While everyone may show occasional narcissistic behavior, true narcissists frequently disregard others and their feelings. They also do not understand the effect that their behavior has on other people.
It’s important to note that narcissism is a trait, but it can also be a part of a larger personality disorder. Not every narcissist has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), as narcissism is a spectrum. People who are at the highest end of the spectrum are those that are classified as NPD, but others, still with narcissistic traits, may fall on the lower end of the narcissistic spectrum and inflict just as much harm.
People who show signs of narcissism can often be very charming and charismatic. They often don’t show negative behavior right away, especially in relationships. In fact, they may seem to be everything you have every wanted in a partner, hiding their true self from the victim. People who are narcissistic often like to surround themselves with people who feed into their ego either positively or negatively. They build relationships to reinforce their ideas about themselves, even if these relationships are superficial.
2. Origins of Narcissism:
The roots of narcissistic behavior often trace back to childhood experiences. Factors can include excessive pampering or excessive criticism from parents or other primary caregivers. Trauma, abuse and/or neglect also contribute to the formation of narcissistic traits.
3. Insecurity at the Root:
Narcissists project a façade of confidence or arrogance, but beneath this veneer lies a very fragile ego. Behind this mask of extreme superiority, they are easily upset by the slightest criticism. Their self-worth is constantly in flux, requiring constant external validation—termed “narcissistic supply.” Narcissists use a variety of tactics and defenses to keep you insecure and confused to ensure that their status and their needs are met. It’s easy to feel crazy, as they vacillate unexpectedly between their fake confidence and their real fragility.
4. The Two Main Faces of Narcissism:
- Grandiose/Overt Narcissists: The ‘life of the party’ individuals, they thrive on attention and often possess magnetic charisma. Their actions shout, “World! Look how magnificent I am!”
- Vulnerable/Covert Narcissists: More subtle in their approach, they lament, “Why can’t the world recognize my brilliance?” Often seen as downcast, they harbor a sense of unjust treatment and hold onto grand visions of what they could have been.
5. The Six Secondary Faces or Subtypes of Narcissism:
The Malignant Narcissist: This is a concerning blend of narcissism, aggression, and sadism. These individuals don’t just seek attention but often manipulate and exploit others for pleasure.
The Cerebral Narcissist: Pride in intelligence is their hallmark. They feel their intellect elevates them above others and love to showcase their cognitive abilities.
The Somatic Narcissist: Obsessed with their physical appearance and physique, they’re the type constantly checking themselves in the mirror or frequenting the gym not for health, but appearance.
The Communal Narcissist: Masquerading as community pillars, these individuals always highlight their altruistic and community-centered actions, seeking validation for their “selflessness.”
The Spiritual Narcissist: They’re on a “higher plane” than others, or so they think. Using spirituality to affirm their specialness, they may claim a unique, profound connection to the divine.
The Parental Narcissist: They weaponize their role as a parent, seeking constant validation for their “exceptional” parenting skills, often sidelining the actual needs and feelings of their children.