We have already seen what the effects can be upon the child who is brought up by a parent with a narcissistic personality disorder as well as how some forms of dysfunctional upbringing can put the child him/herself at risk of developing a narcissistic personality disorder.
However, some narcissistic individuals are easier to identify than others and in this article, I will briefly describe three different types; these are :
THE EXTRAVERTED NARCISSIST
THE INTROVERTED/COVERT NARCISSIST
THE COMMUNAL NARCISSIST
Let’s look at each of these in turn :
The Extraverted Narcissist :
Narcissists who have an extravert type personality are, as one would guess, the easiest to identify; accordingly, they are also the ones who fit most people’s stereotype of a narcissist: They crave attention, always desiring to be centre stage and in the limelight. If wealthy, they are likely to ostentatiously flaunt their economic status by the means of material objects (e.g. flashy cars with personalized number plates, extravagant jewellery etc. ). They are also likely to be highly competitive in the workplace with a strong urge to rise to the highest possible positions thus enabling themselves to exert maximum power over others and to be able to insist upon respect and deference.
The Introverted/Covert Narcissist :
Introverted narcissists have just as strong a need to feel special and superior to others in the way that the extraverted narcissists do, but manifest this desire in more subtle and less obvious ways (which is why they are also sometimes referred to as ‘covert narcissists’ in the psychological literature).
In fact, on the surface, they may even appear to others to be self-effacing and, in direct contrast to extraverted narcissists, are likely to actively avoid being the centre of attention (due to an intense fear of being negatively judged by others).
Such behaviour, though, is paradoxical because underneath this seemingly humble exterior lies a firm conviction of great superiority to others. The introverted/covert narcissists rationalize this belief of great superiority – in the absence, of course, of its confirmation by others – by telling him/herself that others are simply not intelligent or perceptive enough to have recognized his/her ‘supreme and unique’ talents.
Due to this perceived ‘failure of insight’ by others, the introverted narcissist may go through life feeling deeply bitter and resentful; a typical, secret belief an introverted/covert narcissist might hold is: ‘The only reason other people don’t realize how brilliant, superior and wonderful I am is that they are just too stupid to see it!’
The Communal Narcissist :
The communal narcissist wishes to be seen by his/her community as an outstandingly compassionate, caring, giving, nurturing and charitable individual and derives his/her self-esteem and self-worth by cultivating such an image. Just like the extraverted narcissist and the introverted narcissist, the communal narcissist’s primary motivation is a desperate and overwhelming need to feel special.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).