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What’s the single greatest danger of covert narcissism?



What’s the single greatest danger of covert narcissism?
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Calling someone a covert narcissist doesn’t—or at least *shouldn’t*— imply that they’re any sneakier or more manipulative than the average narcissist. It also doesn’t have anything to do with hiding abusive behaviors (another widespread myth). There’s no evidence of any such pattern in clinical research (reports from mental health professionals) or social psychological research (the study of traits and personalities).

The term, *covert narcissism* (aka hypersensitive or vulnerable), was coined to capture the pattern in narcissists who aren’t loud, vain, chest-thumping braggarts but—as their partners discover soon enough—are just as arrogant and argumentative as people with the prouder, more outgoing brand of *extraverted* narcissism (aka overt or grandiose).

The “covert” in covert narcissism refers to the grandiosity inherent to all narcissists. Covert narcissists may be quiet or shy (and often are) but inside—in other words, *covertly*—they still harbor overblown visions of themselves and their future: dreams, for example, of one day being discovered for their remarkable creativity or intelligence or insight. What’s different about covert narcissists is that because they’re introverted, they don’t advertise their inflated egos. They agree with statements like *I feel I’m temperamentally different from most people *and *Even when I’m in a group of friends, I often feel very alone and uneasy*.

Many researchers have complained that covert is a misleading label, and I agree. Narcissists can be open or quiet about their grandiosity and often vacillate between feeling happily inflated and abjectly deflated; covert and overt traits coexist in all narcissists to one degree or another.

For that reason, in* **Rethinking Narcissism,* (www.drcraigmalkin.com/the-book) I introduced the term *introverted narcissist* instead. Covert narcissism is just another way of describing introverted, vulnerable, or hypersensitive narcissists.
To add to the confusion, neither ‘narcissism’ nor ‘narcissist’ are diagnoses or disorders. Narcissism is a trait; narcissists are people who score well above average on measures of that trait. They may or may not be disordered.

The easiest way to understand all narcissism is to think of it as *the drive to feel special*, or stand out from the other 7 billion people on the planet in some way. Narcissists, then, are people so addicted to feeling special that they become more and more willing (the higher they are in the trait) to do whatever it takes to get their “high,” including lie, steal and cheat (just like any severe substance abuser).

This rethink helps explain the variety of narcissists, too.
Since there are many ways to feel special, narcissism comes in a multitude of forms. People can feel special by believing themselves to be the most intelligent or beautiful person in the room (extroverted), the most misunderstood or emotionally sensitive (introverted), or even the most helpful or caring person in the room (a new type, called *communal narcissism*).

The more addicted any narcissist is to feeling special, the more likely they are to become disordered, displaying the core of pathological narcissism, or **Triple E**, as I call it: *exploitation*—doing whatever it takes to feel special, regardless of the cost to those around them; *entitlement*—acting as if the world owes them and should bend to their will; and *empathy impairments*—becoming so fixated on the need to feel special that other people’s feelings cease to matter. At this end of the spectrum, we find narcissistic personality disorder (or NPD).

And herein lies the answer to the question. Built into the definition of NPD is *manipulation *(exploitation). The more severe the disorder, the more likely that exploitative style is to become abusive. That means *anyone* with NPD can become abusive over time. And abuse is dangerous.

Disordered narcissists (those with NPD) can be calculating about hiding their abusive side, whether they’re extraverted, introverted, or communal because *all disordered narcissists *are by definition manipulative. Here’s the followup video where I describe what covert abuse is youtu.be/AqA8o7F0U98

AMAZON: www.amazon.com/dp/0062348116/keywords=psychology%20books?tag=imprintweb-20
ITUNES/APPLE: books.apple.com/br/book/rethinking-narcissism/id929341420?l=en
BARNES & NOBLE: www.barnesandnoble.com/noresults/9780062348104
INDIEBOUND: www.indiebound.org/book/9780062348111
BOOKS-A-MILLION: www.booksamillion.com/p/Rethinking-Narcissism/Craig-Malkin/9780062348111?id=8510117162309
HARPERCOLLINS: www.harpercollins.com/products/rethinking-narcissism-dr-craig-malkin?variant=32132801200162

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How to Spot Covert Abusers



The Truth About Covert Narcissism: How to Spot Covert Abusers
www.drcraigmalkin.com/the-book

Many people commented or messaged me with concerns, after my previous video, “What’s the Single Greatest Danger of Covert Narcissism,” www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxcYfSrv_TY that I was suggesting there’s no such thing as covert abuse (where the abuse is carefully hidden, disguised by a clever mask of generosity or caring or sensitivity).

That’s not what I said–or at least, not what I *meant* to say.

Covert abuse is horrifyingly real, and there are clear traits that reliably predict it–namely, the Dark Tetrad:

Sadism–hurting others for pleasure.

Psychopathy–a pattern of remorseless lies and deceit.

Narcissism–an addictive drive to feel special or unique

Machiavellianism–a cold calculating, chess-playing approach to life (and love).

Of all the Dark Tetrad traits, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy appear to be linked most strongly to covert abuse. Which isn’t surprising since both traits are all about careful, cold, predatory behaviors.

Combined with the more recently researched, fourth trait of the Dark Tetrad, Sadism, these three traits blend with narcissism to shape a personality prone to gaslighting and trickery.

It is the Dark Tetrad narcissist, then, who commits covert abuse.

Covert narcissism, best thought of as a trait where someone presents as fragile (sort of…more on that later) on the outside and grandiose on the inside, is no more likely to predict covert abuse than overt narcissism, in which the fragility is hidden and grandiosity is worn like a badge of honor.

To see the most accurate predictors of covert abuse, look for the Dark Tetrad cluster of traits, especially Machiavellianism.

Covert and overt narcissists may or may not possess the other Dark Tetrad traits, which means they may or may not perpetrate covert abuse.

Of course, as you’ve probably learned from my work if you’ve followed it, your greatest protection against any form of abuse is to look for signs your partner is capable of attachment security. Securely attached people don’t perpetrate abuse. Ever.

For more on this topic www.psychologytoday.com/blog/romance-redux/201802/how-spot-covert-abusers

AMAZON: www.amazon.com/dp/0062348116/keywords=psychology%20books?tag=imprintweb-20
ITUNES/APPLE: books.apple.com/br/book/rethinking-narcissism/id929341420?l=en
BARNES & NOBLE: www.barnesandnoble.com/noresults/9780062348104
INDIEBOUND: www.indiebound.org/book/9780062348111
BOOKS-A-MILLION: www.booksamillion.com/p/Rethinking-Narcissism/Craig-Malkin/9780062348111?id=8510117162309
HARPERCOLLINS: www.harpercollins.com/products/rethinking-narcissism-dr-craig-malkin?variant=32132801200162

www.drcraigmalkin.com

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