How To Identify The Five Types of Narcissists

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Most people use the term narcissist to describe individuals with self-centered behavior and exaggerated picture of their own worth. While the inflated belief of superiority and grandiose ideas of self-worth are the distinctive characteristics of a narcissist, narcissism actually occurs along the spectrum ranging from a few narcissistic traits to the full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. 

A narcissistic personality disorder is present in 6.2 percent of the population, with a 2:1 men and women ratio. Persons with narcissistic personality disorder always put their needs first, often displaying self-centered and manipulative behavior. 

They continuously seek attention and admiration while lacking empathy for other people’s feelings. The narcissist may be controlling or be emotionally abusive, experience sudden mood swings, impulsive behavior with abrupt anger and aggression, and a great fear of being abandoned. 

They tend to blame others for their failures and use gaslighting to manipulate and discredit their victim, enabling them to gain control and power in a relationship. 

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What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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It is believed that family relationships and early attachment styles are significantly correlated with a narcissistic personality disorder. Family dynamics affect one’s beliefs, personality, and mental health. 

People who grew up in dysfunctional families may develop an insecure attachment style that stems from the parent-child relationship. This relationship is often founded on fear and expressed through mixed emotions such as a deep fear of rejection and dependence on another person for one’s security and identity.

Uncover the signs of narcissism, strategies for recovery, and ultimately, the path to healing and freedom. Learn more now.

People with narcissistic personality disorder have an avoidant (dismissive) q. These persons had distant caregivers and experienced a lack of support in their childhood, which taught them either not to trust others or to be dependent on those who do care for them. 

Narcissists usually have difficulty developing close relationships because insecure attachment style taught them to believe that they don’t need anyone, become self-centered, and put their needs first.

A narcissistic personality disorder is a heterogeneous category that involves five primary types:

  1. The Grandiose Type 
  2. The Vulnerable Type 
  3. The Toxic Type
  4. The Cerebral Type
  5. The Somatic Type
narcissist quote

1.    The Grandiose Narcissist

Also known as overt type, this subtype of narcissistic personality disorder characterizes more hostility and anger than other types. They are attention-seekers who often display sudden mood swings and impulsive behavior. Persons who belong to this type often experience a profound fear of being abandoned. They can be very persuasive and charming, especially at the beginning of the relationship. 

However, as you get to know them better, you may notice that your grandiose narcissistic partner displays overt expressions of feelings of superiority. They will put others down, take advantage of people, showing self-absorbed, arrogant, and controlling behavior. 

While a severe type of narcissistic personality disorder, a grandiose narcissist is less likely to seek professional help and engage in treatment. 

2. The Vulnerable Narcissist Type

Individuals that belong to a vulnerable, covert, or fragile narcissist subtype are typically highly vulnerable to criticism, hypersensitive, and easily hurt. They tend to be preoccupied with perceived failures and often worry about how they are perceived. 

When disappointed and hurt, these persons can turn on themselves (unlike the overt narcissist who is more likely to lash out at others). Covert narcissists feel shame when rejected, so they often turn into people-pleasers to prevent rejection. Vulnerable narcissists may withdraw from social situations if they feel they don’t fit. They can feel depressed and useless and tend to have a lot of anxiety. Their style is passive-aggressive as they tend to blame others and use sneaky methods to get their needs met. 

Vulnerable narcissists often engage in codependent relationships because they another person’s approval to feel valued.

3. The Toxic Narcissist

This subtype is also known as a malignant narcissist. While there is a range of toxic narcissism, these persons have one thing in common – they continually cause pain and destruction in other people’s lives. 

Toxic narcissists have an excessive need to control and dominate others, so they are manipulative and destructive often lack remorse for their actions. They may even find pleasure in watching others suffering. 

They will always demand your time and attention and make you constantly doubt yourself. A toxic narcissist will force you to rely on them for clarity, making you feel that you need to defend and explain yourself. 

They lack empathy for others and have no remorse for hurting others. A malignant narcissist will apologize if it benefits them. They have an inflated sense of self and are often preoccupied with fantasies about beauty, success, and power, 

Many consider malignant narcissism the most severe type. 

4. The Cerebral Narcissist Type

Cerebral narcissists are know-it-all people. These individuals pride themselves on their minds and always find a way to turn a conversation to them. They mistreat others and put themselves above everyone else. The cerebral narcissists enjoy engaging in dialogue on various topics that they consider themselves experts in. They talk at people, not to them, and often tell the same stories repeatedly to the same people. 

A cerebral narcissist feels select for how smart they are. They use their intellect and knowledge (whether real or pretended) to dominate others and earn admiration

5) The Somatic Narcissist Type

Somatic narcissists obsess with their bodies as their self-worth stems from physical appearance. They feel more beautiful and fitter than others, often criticizing other people for their looks. 

Somatic narcissists prioritize their own needs and ignore the needs of others. They use sex to gain validation. A somatic narcissist will engage in serial infidelity or manipulate sexual partners to boost self-esteem.

They cannot take criticism. Criticism can cause somatic narcissists to feel humiliated and empty, so they may react with disdain and anger and respond defensively or abusively. 

Understanding the different types of narcissistic personality disorder may help you get a picture of how complicated this personality disorder is and how a relationship with different subtypes can affect your life.

SEE MORE: 5 Signs Someone Might Be a Spiritual Narcissist

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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