Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What is a Covert Narcissist and How They Operate

It's impossible spend any length of time talking about female bullying without exploring the role of personality disorders. In recent years, narcissism has become a household word. There's a growing awareness of the psychological traits that go into arriving at a clinical definition of unhealthy narcissism.

These include grandiosity, a feeling that regular rules don't apply to them and an extreme, perverted sense of entitlement, to name a few. For example, a narcissistic friend would consider it a privilege to be in her company. She'll expect a lot of favors, some of which may greatly inconvenience you. However, she feels she's doing you a favor for allowing you to spend time with her.

Narcissists are very engaging individuals who are fun to be around. They have magnetic personalities and plenty of admirers. They're also willing to do just about anything to advance their cause, even if it means injuring others. They're very low on empathy.

A classic narcissist believes she deserves the very best. So you can often expect her to wear very expensive clothes, even if she can't afford them.

The above description, though, doesn't fit all people with this disorder. There's another category known as "closet narcissists" or "covert narcissists." These are the church mouse types. Underneath the humble exterior are highly competitive beings that will scratch your eyes out, if given the opportunity.

In my personal experience dealing with narcissists, I believe these are the more dangerous ones. They are so good at projecting a mask of piety and good will, that it's hard to fathom that they're capable of destruction. Unlike the overt narcissist, they may dress very plainly, or even wear frumpy clothes.

If you're dealing with a closet narcissist, it can take a long time to catch on to the fact that she may be responsible for stirring up trouble. There is one clue, however, that you may only notice in hindsight. Underneath the placid facade is a lot of anger. When she's stressed, it may bubble to the surface for a brief time. Watch for subtle signs of unregulated anger. This is the best advice I can give you on how to spot a closet narcissist.

Flickr photo by Schnaars

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