Unmasking the Hidden Face of Narcissism: Understanding Covert Narcissism

Unmasking the Hidden Face of Narcissism: Understanding Covert Narcissism

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Narcissism is a term that has become commonplace in our everyday vocabulary. We often associate the term with someone who is self-absorbed, egotistical, and seeks attention and admiration from others. However, there is a type of narcissism that is not as easily recognizable as the more overt type, yet it can be just as damaging, if not more so. This type of narcissism is known as covert narcissism.

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Covert narcissism is characterized by a lack of empathy, a need for admiration, and a sense of entitlement. Covert narcissists are masters of manipulation, often hiding behind a facade of humility and vulnerability while secretly seeking to control and dominate those around them. They can be difficult to identify, and their behavior can be confusing, leaving their victims questioning their own sanity.

In this article, we will delve into the hidden face of narcissism and explore the signs, traits, and behaviors of covert narcissism. We will also examine the impact of covert narcissism on relationships and mental health, and provide some tips on how to deal with a covert narcissist.

What is covert narcissism?

Covert narcissism is a type of narcissistic personality disorder that is characterized by a lack of empathy, a need for admiration, and a sense of entitlement. Unlike overt narcissists who are grandiose and seek attention, covert narcissists are more subtle in their approach. They often appear humble and self-effacing, but behind closed doors, they can be manipulative and controlling.

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Covert narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe that they are entitled to special treatment. They often have a sense of entitlement and expect others to cater to their needs and wants. They lack empathy for others and are often unable to recognize or care about the feelings of others. They are also extremely sensitive to criticism and may react with anger or defensiveness when confronted.

Signs and Symptoms of Covert Narcissism

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One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with a covert narcissist is identifying their behavior. Covert narcissists often appear to be kind, caring, and empathetic, making it difficult to recognize their true intentions. Here are some signs and symptoms of covert narcissism:

  • They appear shy or introverted but are actually manipulating to gain sympathy.
  • They are hypersensitive to criticism and may react with anger or defensiveness when confronted.
  • They lack empathy for others and are often unable to recognize or care about others' feelings.
  • They have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe that they are entitled to special treatment.
  • They use guilt trips and passive-aggressive behavior to manipulate others.
  • They are often jealous and envious of others' success.
  • They lack self-awareness and may believe that they are the victim in situations where they are actually the perpetrator.Get up to 50% off your favourite products at eCosmetics

Causes of Covert Narcissism

The causes of covert narcissism, a personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and a constant need for admiration, are not well understood. However, experts believe that it is likely a result of a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Covert narcissists may have experienced significant trauma or abuse during their childhood, which can contribute to the development of this disorder. Additionally, having parents who were overly critical or controlling may also play a role in the formation of covert narcissism. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that individuals with a genetic predisposition to narcissism may be more susceptible to developing this condition. Moreover, a traumatic event in their lives could potentially trigger their narcissistic tendencies, exacerbating their covert narcissism.

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Victims of covert narcissistic abuse may also struggle with feelings of guilt and self-blame, as the manipulative tactics of the narcissist can make them question their own sanity. It is important for survivors to recognize that they are not at fault and to seek professional help to heal from the trauma. Building a strong support system and practicing self-care are crucial steps in the recovery process. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.

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Covert Narcissism vs. Overt Narcissism

While covert narcissism and overt narcissism share many similarities, there are some key differences. Overt narcissists are grandiose and seek attention, while covert narcissists are more subtle in their approach. Overt narcissists are more likely to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, while covert narcissists may be diagnosed with other personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder.

Overt narcissists are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as drug use, gambling, or reckless driving, while covert narcissists are more likely to engage in passive-aggressive behavior or manipulate others. Overt narcissists are more likely to have a history of failed relationships, while covert narcissists may appear to have successful relationships on the surface.

How to Deal with a Covert Narcissist

Dealing with a covert narcissist can be challenging, but there are some strategies that can help. Here are some tips on how to deal with a covert narcissist:

    • Set boundaries: Covert narcissists often push boundaries and may try to manipulate you. Setting clear boundaries and sticking to them can help you protect yourself from their behavior.
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  • Don't engage in their games: Covert narcissists thrive on drama and attention. Refusing to engage in their games can help to diffuse the situation.
  • Seek therapy: Therapy can help you develop coping strategies and learn how to deal with the emotional fallout of a relationship with a covert narcissist.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people: Covert narcissists often try to isolate their victims. Surrounding yourself with supportive people can help you feel less alone.

Treatment for Covert Narcissism

There is no cure for narcissistic personality disorder, but therapy can be helpful in managing symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help covert narcissists learn to manage their emotions and develop empathy for others. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can also be helpful in managing emotions and reducing self-destructive behavior.

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Recovery from Covert Narcissistic Abuse

Recovering from covert narcissistic abuse can be an arduous and protracted journey, filled with numerous obstacles and challenges. Those who have endured such abuse may find themselves grappling with a range of distressing symptoms, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Seeking therapy can prove to be a valuable resource in addressing these symptoms, as it provides a safe and supportive environment for victims to explore their experiences and develop effective coping strategies. Additionally, it is crucial for survivors to prioritize self-care and surround themselves with a network of empathetic and understanding individuals who can offer unwavering support throughout their healing process.


If you suspect that you or someone you know may be dealing with a covert narcissist, it is crucial to seek professional help and support. Therapy can provide valuable tools and strategies for managing the effects of covert narcissistic abuse and rebuilding self-esteem. Setting boundaries and surrounding yourself with a strong support system can also aid in the recovery process. Remember, healing takes time, but with the right resources and a commitment to self-care, it is possible to overcome the impact of covert narcissism and regain control of your life.

The Impact of Covert Narcissism on Relationships and Mental Health

Covert narcissism, a form of narcissistic personality disorder, can have a profound and lasting impact on relationships and mental well-being. Those who fall victim to covert narcissistic abuse often find themselves grappling with a range of debilitating symptoms, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. The insidious nature of covert narcissism often leaves its victims feeling isolated and plagued by low self-esteem. To compound matters, covert narcissists employ manipulative tactics that aim to isolate their victims, effectively thwarting their ability to seek the help and support they so desperately need.

Conclusion

In conclusion, covert narcissism is a type of narcissistic personality disorder that is characterized by a lack of empathy, a need for admiration, and a sense of entitlement. Covert narcissists are masters of manipulation, often hiding behind a facade of humility and vulnerability while secretly seeking to control and dominate those around them. It is essential to understand the signs and symptoms of covert narcissism to protect yourself from these toxic individuals. If you are dealing with a covert narcissist, seek therapy, set boundaries, and surround yourself with supportive people. Remember, you are not alone, and recovery is possible.

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