What Are The Different Types Of Narcissists?
Have you ever heard somebody referred to as a narcissist? Many people display narcissistic behaviors to some extent. However, when narcissism starts interfering with a person’s mental health and their relationships with other people, it may be time to consult a professional psychiatrist or therapist for their expert opinion. A person may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental illness in which, at its essence, a person believes they are more special than everybody else. They have an exaggerated sense of their own importance. Narcissists tend to appear as charming and confident, although it is a facade for low self-esteem and a fragile ego. They depend on the validation and admiration of others, codependents, in order to feel good about themselves.
There are three main subcategories of narcissists:
- Classic Narcissists
- Vulnerable Narcissists
- Malignant Narcissists
Classic Narcissists are what comes to mind when one thinks about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. According to the DSM-5, in order to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a person must exhibit at least five of the following qualities:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance; fantasies about becoming powerful, successful, brilliant, beautiful
- Belief they are special or elite in some way, and insisting on only associating themselves with other special people
- Requiring validation and admiration from others (in order to feed their ego, and keep themselves assured they are in fact special)
- Entitlement and a belief they are entitled to special things
- Exploitation of friends, family, and others around them in order to gain what they may want (money, sex, power, privileges, etc.)
- An impairment or lack of empathy; a belief that others are envious of them
Classic Narcissists love it when people praise and flatter them. They seek out the spotlight or positions that will allow them to be the center of attention. They believe they are special, and want everybody around them to know it.
This type does not enjoy being the center of attention. In order to receive the validation and admiration their ego so desperately needs, they may seek pity, guilt-tripping or manipulating people. This boosts their sense of self-worth. This type can be difficult to spot because it does not seem as overt as other types of narcissists.
This type possesses the most dangerous qualities. While the other two tend to have an impairment of empathy, they can still empathize with others on some level. Malignant Narcissists lack empathy altogether. They are often compared to sociopaths. They tend to be highly manipulative and exploitative in order to achieve what it is they want. They enjoy controlling and dominating over others. They do not feel guilt nor remorse. In fact, they often enjoy seeing people suffer, knowing they have control over other people’s pain.
A narcissist may be either covert or overt. This refers to the methods of manipulation and exploitation they use in order to achieve their means. An overt narcissist goes about this in noticeable ways; they are open, even proud of the way that they control people. They will brag about their accomplishments and put others down. They may openly admit to lying, cheating, or deceiving others. They talk about their love of power, success, and need to control others. All of this is done openly. Classic narcissists (those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder) are overt in their tactics.
A covert narcissist is more passive-aggressive in their method of getting things done. They may withhold affection, compliments, sex, money, or anything else from their partners. They might guilt trip or seek pity in order to get validation or praise. They might act extremely seductive or charming in order to manipulate others. Vulnerable narcissists are covert in their tactics, and many people have trouble recognizing them as narcissistic because they fly under the radar with how they go about manipulating and exploiting others.
A narcissist, in the most basic sense, is somebody who believes they are very special, compared with everybody else. They truly believe they are better than others. They only want to associate with people who are also special. They tend to have large friend groups, because they are very good at socializing, and tend to be charismatic and likeable. However, they see their relationships with people – friends, family, romantic partners, coworkers, etc – as objects, people they can use to heighten their own elite status.
They ask themselves “What can this person do for me?”
“Is this person special enough to be with me?”
They want to select friends and romantic partners who can enhance their status. They want to show them off, as if to say “Look at this trophy I earned” and “I must be a special person to be surrounded by such beautiful and amazing people.”
Cerebral narcissists are people who believe they are superior in intelligence compared to others. They may enjoy starting debates with others, contradict what others have to say, and try to impress others with their accomplishments at work and in school. They also spend a lot of time trying to gain knowledge or achieve more success.
In general, they believe that others lack the intelligence that they have and they see others around them as simple-minded and inferior. Somatic narcissists are obsessed with their appearance. They spend a lot of time, money and resources in order to look good, whether it is on clothes, cars, technology, gym memberships, accessories, beauty products, going to the spa, plastic surgery, luxury items, or anything similar. They want others to be impressed with their beauty and appearance. They want to look flawless and be admired by others when they step into the room. Narcissists may strongly prefer to focus on cerebral or somatic aspects, although often they care about both.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a real mental illness, and it takes a hefty toll on the family, friends, spouses, and children of those who have it. Those who have a narcissist in their lives are often left being manipulated, exploited, lied to, cheated on, neglected, abused, and more. They often turn to professional help such as therapists to handle the stress the narcissist has brought to their life.
A person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, too, needs professional mental health care. Unfortunately, it is rare that they will agree to it, since they believe that they are special and convinced that there is nothing wrong with them.
Narcissism is a term that many people use nowadays. A person may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or they may simply exhibit some narcissistic traits. Or, they may be abusive in some other fashion, but not necessarily have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Whatever the case may be, abuse is never justified. If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important that you seek out help. Nobody deserves to be abused.
Please know that you are a good person who deserves a loving, caring relationship. Leaving a narcissist can be difficult – they may even try to manipulate you, threaten you, or abuse you into staying with them – however, it is the only choice if you want to end this toxicity in your life. If you are considering leaving a narcissist, seek out the support of therapists, friends and family who will help you with your choice.