Signs of a Covert Narcissist

By becky
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The term narcissist gets thrown around a lot to describe people who demonstrate the typical external traits of narcissist personality disorder, which include a constant need for attention, persistent boasting and a grandiose self-image. The reality is, though, that some people can possess the traits of NPD without anyone realizing it. These people may be what is known as a “covert narcissist.”

In the field of psychology, any type of behavior can be overt or covert. This is true even of narcissism. Overt narcissists are easy to spot, as they tend to be self-aggrandizing, aggressive, exploitative and loud about their needs for attention. Covert narcissists, on the other hand, tend to be shy, sensitive and insecure. However, both types share the same core personality traits. Very Well Mind explains it best: The difference is like listening to a song on full blast versus very low. The song remains the same; it’s only the volume that changes.

1. Defining Narcissism

In terms of clinical mental health, someone must meet a very specific set of criteria to receive a narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis. Narcissists in general, however, operate with an inflated sense of self-importance, little empathy and thirst for admiration and reassurance. They are also often preoccupied with power and success and have no qualms about using others to get what they want. This is true regardless of where on the spectrum a narcissist falls.

That said, though individuals must meet specific criteria to be diagnosed with covert narcissism — also known as hypersensitive, closet or vulnerable narcissism — it can be difficult to identify. Covert narcissists are quieter and generally more amicable than their overt counterparts. If you suspect you are dealing with a covert narcissist, there are some general traits and patterns to look for in everyday interactions.

Covert Narcissist

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