What is Narcissistic Grandiosity? Does it differ from Vulnerable Narcissism

What is Narcissistic Grandiosity and How Does It Differ from Vulnerable Narcissism

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Pathological narcissism, also known as a clinical narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), is uncommon. It affects just approximately 1% of the US population. However, a person can have narcissistic traits without being diagnosed with NPD. 

Narcissistic personality characteristics, also known as subclinical narcissism, are significantly more frequent in the general population. The estimated prevalence of NPD in the general population is 6.2 percent, with males (7.7 percent) having higher rates than females (4.8 percent).

However, subclinical narcissism can also be detrimental since it damages a person’s relationships and well-being.

Insecure attachment in childhood sometimes leads to the development of narcissistic personality characteristics as it teaches a child that they are not good enough to be loved or can never count on other people.

Children who do not feel seen, acknowledged, or accepted by their caregivers for who they sometimes establish a fake self in an attempt to receive the desired attention. This phony persona stays with the person into adulthood because it gets them the attention and praise they want so much.

While the roots of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism are the same, how they present themselves varies. So, here are some pointers to help you understand what narcissistic grandiosity is and how it differs from vulnerable narcissism.

What is Grandiose Narcissism?

In general, narcissism is characterized by a high opinion of oneself, a lot of self-centered behavior, a lack of empathy, and a strong need for praise and attention.

The primary distinction between grandiose and vulnerable narcissistic behavior is that grandiose narcissism is frequently visible to others. Grandiose narcissists, also called overt narcissists, share these traits with other people with narcissism. However, in grandiose narcissists, most of these traits are noticeable and out in the open.

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Signs of Narcissistic Grandiosity

Thinking and behavior patterns in grandiose narcissists typically involve the following characteristics:

  • Excessive need for recognition
  • Overconfidence
  • Extroversion
  • Sudden mood swings and impulsive behavior
  • A lack of empathy and consideration for others
  • An inflated self-image
  • Arrogant, loud, and self-absorbed behavior
  • Being envious of others and the belief that others are jealous of them
  • A tendency to take advantage of others to meet their own needs
  • Exaggerated belief in own superiority and own importance
  • Manipulative and self-centered behavior
  • A sense of entitlement (a belief that they deserve special attention, treatment, etc.)
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Fantasies of your own importance, success, power, etc.

A person must have at least five of these traits to be diagnosed with a grandiose narcissistic personality disorder.

Grandiose narcissism is the NPD subtype with the most severe symptoms, causing impaired psychosocial and interpersonal functioning. People with grandiose or overt narcissism have a strong fear of abandonment and have an exaggerated desire for acceptance. 

They experience sudden mood swings and show impulsive behavior, rage, and hostility outbursts. However, individuals with grandiose narcissistic personality disorders can be incredibly charming and convincing at the same time. However, when you get to know them closer, you will discover their self-centered, arrogant, and manipulative side.

Grandiose vs. Vulnerable Narcissism: What’s the Difference?

The primary distinction between grandiose and vulnerable narcissists is that grandiose narcissistic behavior is visible to others. Most overt narcissists are not clever enough to manipulate other people subtly, making their narcissistic traits more obvious.

On the other hand, vulnerable or covert narcissistic behaviors are usually more subtle and frequently invisible to others who do not closely engage with this individual. Vulnerable narcissists may be shy or humble, unlike flamboyant and self-absorbed grandiose narcissists. They do not openly exhibit the typical narcissistic feeling of self-importance.

Vulnerable narcissists are more introverted and hypersensitive than grandiose narcissists.

Only someone who knows a covert narcissist very well can genuinely understand how harmful vulnerable narcissism can be.

Too often, people who are stuck in a narcissistic cycle of emotional abuse don’t realize how bad it has been for years, if not decades.

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Signs of Vulnerable Narcissism

Not all narcissists are “thick-skinned,” grandiose narcissists. Some people with NPD or narcissistic personality traits are vulnerable, hypersensitive, and quiet.

Vulnerable narcissists frequently have problems with fluctuating self-esteem. Moreover, because these people are susceptible to criticism and rejection, they often wind up in toxic codependent relationships because they need the approval of others to feel valuable and confident.

People with vulnerable narcissistic traits are typically raised in families with insecure attachment, never knowing what to expect or how to act. In addition, their childhood abandonment issues have an impact on their adult relationships, turning them into people pleasers to avoid rejection.

Vulnerable narcissism frequently occurs in comorbidity with anxiety and depressive disorders. If your partner, family member, friend, or coworker does any of the following, they may be a vulnerable narcissist:

  • They are hypersensitive and easily hurt
  • They are introverted and more neurotic than grandiose narcissists
  • Rejection causes them to feel ashamed and useless
  • They struggle with low self-esteem
  • They are passive-aggressive
  • They tend to blame others
  • They may have anger outbursts followed by feelings of shame

How to Deal with a Grandiose Narcissist

If you decide to keep your relationship with a grandiose narcissist, you may need to adapt your expectations and learn how to deal with their behavior. Here are the three tips to assist you. 

Set Boundaries and Stick to Them

In a relationship with a grandiose narcissist, whether it’s your spouse, parent, or friend, boundaries can help differentiate yourself from a narcissist and protect you from abuse and manipulation.

Although narcissists do not respect other people’s boundaries, staying firm and clear with the narcissist about your needs, concerns, and actions you disapprove of is critical.

Focus on Self-Care

Regular self-care practices can help you focus on yourself and become more aware of your needs. Self-care might include different things for different people. Whether mindfulness, journaling, a healthy diet, or exercise, self-care practices can help protect your well-being and raise resilience.

Have a Plan Out

Sometimes the only way to cope with a grandiose narcissist is to cut ties with them, whether that means breaking up with a love partner or estranging yourself from a narcissistic parent. Unfortunately, many narcissists may not be able or willing to change. So, if you notice that your relationship with a grandiose narcissist is taking its toll on your health and well-being, it might be time to leave.

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