Covert narcissists are difficult to spot. That's because their bad behavior is hidden behind a mask of goodness and sanctity. (Many of the morally disordered people you find at church fall into this category.) They the most damaging of all types of narcissists, since they'd be the last person you'd suspect of having ulterior motives. Plus, they are very good at covering their tracks.
Because they appear so benevolent, we trust them with our secrets. This information is then filed away and later used to hurt us. If you find yourself in a social situation that's suddenly become very uncomfortable, or if you're now having trouble at work, and your performance hasn't slipped, it's quite possible you have a covert narcissist on your case, working behind the scenes. (They always do their dirty deeds under the cover of darkness.) All you notice is that people mysteriously start to shun you. This is because these narcissists are skillful liars, and they destroy their targets by spreading outrageous falsehoods with only a hint of truth. (By adding a few truthful details, they get people to believe them.)
Dealing with a covert narcissists is very frustrating. The person causing the trouble is likely blaming you for it, so everyone's perception of the events if skewed. The best way to avoid such drama is not to get entangled with one of these deceivers in the first place, and, especially, don't share any secrets with them. But how do you spot them, since they're even able to fool trained professionals?
Here's what someone who specializes in this line of work told me. "They have very poor anger regulation," she explained. "If you look carefully, you'll see that they can't control their anger."
They may get angry at situations the rest of us wouldn't. Or, they may briefly lash out at you, and then apologize. Very quickly, they'll regain their composure and smile. People who don't suffer from such a character disorder are usually even tempered and are not prone to these types of outbursts.
What you've just witnessed is the mask slipping. You could be dealing with a covert narcissist. So proceed cautiously.