There are so many things that are crazy making and confusing when it comes to the world of Narcissists: their behavior, having a relationship with one, trying to make sense of what you went through when that relationship ends–and then trying to express it to others, hell, trying to even find the words to describe what you went through is all crazy making, and to add to that crazy making is that Narcissism is understood in different ways by different people.
A therapist might describe a Narcissist one way, where as an informed victim will describe them another way, and a victim who is new to the world of Narcissism will describe them in yet another way! This is all very confusing for everyone involved.
And really, unless you’ve been through a Narcissistic relationship–and then talked to others who have experienced a Narcissist, you’d never see how many different behaviors and different types of Narcissists there are out there. Narcissism is really unique in this way.
For example, take other personality disorders that are in the “cluster B” category of personality disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, or Antisocial Personality Disorder. The people with these personality disorders all tend to present in about the same way, and generally a person trained in diagnosing personality disorders can identify these issues with a handful of questions in about 5-10 minutes. Narcissists are not this way. They lie, are masters of manipulation, and often times present in very different ways.
They are the shape shifters of the personality disordered world, and are often really hard to spot–even for professionals.
I’m not sure who came up with all the different types and sub-types of Narcissists out there, but I think they really accurate, and helpful for victims to better understand the Narcissist in their life.
Here’s a brief rundown of some terms that are used by many victims to describe a Narcissist:
Narcissist: A person whose set of behaviors are characterized by a pattern of grandiosity, self-centered focus, need for admiration, self-serving attitude and a lack of empathy or consideration (remorse) for others. Read more about Narcissism here.
There are Two Main Different Types of Narcissists:
Covert Narcissist (also called Vulnerable, or shy Narcissist): One of two (unofficial) types of subcategories of Narcissists. These Narcissists do not come across like a “textbook definition” of a Narcissist. In fact, the often come across like the exact opposite. They tend to be charming, likable, and humble, and a victim who is unfamiliar with the red flags would never see them coming, as they are often very convincing. Most people don’t know what they are dealing with for years, or even decades. My opinion is that these are the most dangerous types of narcissists, because they often fool everyone–including therapists. They (initially) come across as humble, sincere, charming, caring, and are liked by most people. They are the kind of person that goes above and beyond for others, often making it a point to come across as selfless and giving. People tend to like them, however, they often tend to have a lot of strained relationships with family members–many of which they no longer talk to. These people are the perpetual victim, and they use pity to trap their victims. Threats of suicide, addictions, other women throwing themselves at them–all behaviors where others (including the victim) takes pity on them, and hopes that this time they really will change. “Let me hear more about you” and “Look at what they/it made me do” would be their mantras. (Example: Osama bid Laden, Ted Bundy.)
Overt Narcissist (also called Grandiose Narcissist): One of two (unofficial) types of subcategories of Narcissists. These Narcissists are more obvious, and tend to be a “textbook” example of what a narcissist presents like. These people are larger-than-life, arrogant, often loud and boisterous, love to be the center of attention, and often come across as obnoxious to most people. They are the classic “one-upper”, and people tend to either be very impressed by them or turned off completely. They are often very status driven, and self-centered. These people are the perpetual hero. They generally justify their behavior and they are always right. “Enough about you, lets talk about me” and “Yeah, but still” would be their mantras. (Example: Donald Trump, Kanye West.)
Within those two general categories, there are 4 more different types of Narcissists:
Cerebral Narcissist (One of three unofficial sub-sub categories of Narcissists, that includes cerebral, somatic and delusional): Cerebral narcissists take great pride in their intellect, and are incredibly convincing. They are master manipulators and are often most visibly seen as the high ranking, cut-throat CEOs and politicans of the world. The more extreme cases of this have cult followings. They often have advanced degrees, and come across as elitists. They rarely like to associate with anyone that is below their intellect or educational level. These narcissists are not necessarily focused on status symbols. (Example: The representation of Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game,” Bernie Madoff and a case could be made for Ferris Bueller as well.)
Delusional Narcissist (One of three unofficial sub-sub categories of Narcissists, that includes cerebral, somatic and delusional): Delusional narcissists are very grandiose in their beliefs and are often full of stories that are so over-the-top that rarely do other people believe them. (Example: Telling someone that you have $10 million dollars in the bank and a jet plane in your backyard, but that you work as a gardener because you like to be outside–oh, and you own the company too. Their delusions tend to be focused around the Military, success/power, religion, and/or having advanced degrees.)
Malignant Narcissist:An (unofficial) term that describes the types of Narcissism that is the middle of the (unofficial) Narcissistic spectrum. This spectrum often has psychopaths/sociopaths at the worst end, malignant narcissists in the middle and those diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder as the least severe. (For what it’s worth, I disagree on this. I fully believe that ALL Narcissists are dangerous and destuctive and can snap at anytime–even if they have no history of violence, and normally present as charming and likable.)
Somatic Narcissist: (One of three unofficial sub-sub categories of Narcissists, that includes cerebral, somatic and delusional): Somatic narcissists are very fixated on their body and appearance. They are often very seductive, and are pathological cheaters. To them, sex is a weapon, and a very powerful one at that. They tend to be very status oriented, and are often checking themselves out in the mirror every chance they get. Many of their victims often feel a soul mate connection to them, which is backed up by (amazing) sex. (Example: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elvis.)
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
Latest posts by Dana (see all)
- Episode 55: How Do I Stop My Addiction to the Narcissist? - August 23, 2017
- Episode 53: Strategies to Help Prevent Your Child from Being Manipulated by a Narcissistic Parent - August 21, 2017
- Episode 54: How can we handle victim blaming and revictimization? - August 18, 2017