The Different Types Of Narcissism

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

The Different Types Of Narcissism

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a disorder in which a person feels more important than others. A person with NPD will feel an unreasonable sense of entitlement. They will also have a big ego. Narcissists feel more important than others. As a result, they struggle with relationships and behavioral issues.

It is possible for someone to have condescending traits, but NPD is more than just having a pompous attitude. A narcissist has an inflated ego. This ego causes interpersonal, relationship and career issues for them. Narcissists often fail to see the fault in their behaviors and tend to behave in a way that is dismissive of others.

There are several different classifications of narcissism. These classifications reflect the narcissist’s behavioral issues and how they were caused.

The different types of narcissists include:

Overt Narcissists

An overt narcissist is proud of their ability to manipulate and control others. They exploit people for personal gain, and their methods are clear and overt. They do not try to hide their methods of manipulation or methods of deception, scandal or chase for power.

Covert Narcissists

Covert narcissists are not as open or direct about their means of manipulation. They tend to use the following methods to get what they want from others:

  • Passive-aggression
  • Guilt-tripping
  • Emotional manipulation

For example, a covert narcissist may manipulate their partners. They put them down and deprive them of their emotional and physical needs until they get what they want. Once they do, the narcissist shows affection and other rewards to gain control over their partner.

Covert narcissists may seem charming. They can use their charm and means of seduction to manipulate others. They fool others into thinking the way they want them to think. They know how to use their manipulative behavior so it is not detected. Because of this, it can be challenging to spot a covert narcissist.

Classic Narcissists

Classic narcissists thrive off of praise and admiration of others, even if the sentiment is imagined. They crave being and value being the center of attention. Classic narcissists believe they are special and more valuable than others. Their pompous attitude can be off-putting to the people around them.

Classic narcissists are those who fit the mold for narcissistic personality disorder. They will check off the boxes for diagnosis, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for mental health disorders (DSM-5).

The following are symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder:

  • An extreme sense of self-importance and inflated ego
  • Thoughts and fantasies of power, success, intelligence and high status
  • Only associating with people who they consider to also be special or in good status
  • Seeking constant admiration from others
  • An entitled attitude and belief that they deserve special treatment
  • Abusing, dismissing or belittling friends, family and loved ones
  • Inability to empathize with others
  • Extreme arrogance or pompous behavior toward others

Vulnerable Narcissists

Vulnerable narcissists seek attention by seeking pity from others. They will often guilt-trip the people in their lives to bend to what they want.

They are manipulative. Their ability to manipulate the thoughts, feelings and actions of others is an ego trip for them. Their behavior tends to be subtle, so it can be difficult to spot the signs.

Vulnerable narcissists are considered to be covert narcissists. Their symptoms lie in their subtle manipulative behavior. Their sense of self-worth relies heavily on the attention they get from others.

Malignant Narcissists

Malignant narcissists are exploitative of others and are very manipulative. They are often considered sociopaths, and are incapable of empathizing with others. Malignant narcissists manipulate and exploit their friends, family and peers for personal gain. They are very controlling of the people in their lives.

Malignant narcissists lack conscience. They rarely feel guilty or remorseful for their actions or how they affect others. Instead, malignant narcissists are fueled by the feeling of having control over the people in their lives. They enjoy causing pain to the people around them. They enjoy watching people struggle and feel oppressed. They enjoy seeing others suffer.

Cerebral Narcissists

Cerebral narcissists believe they are of superior intelligence. They believe they are smarter than others, and enjoy displaying this intelligence. They will often do so by debating, arguing and contradicting people. Cerebral narcissists try to impress the people around them with their academic and career success.

A cerebral narcissist uses knowledge and success to inflate their ego, and believe most are intellectually below them. They spend most of their time building their intelligence. Anyone who does not meet their level of intelligence is considered inferior to them.

Somatic Narcissists

Somatic narcissists find their value in their looks. They find value in material possessions and looks, and want others to envy or be dazzled by their beauty and extravagant lifestyle. They strive to be ‘head turners’ and to steal the spotlight when entering a room. They will spend a great deal of time and money on perfecting their looks.


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