Types of Narcissism

Narcissism is defined as a mental disorder characterized by excessive self-admiration and self-centredness. However, not all types of narcissism present the same traits, and for this reason, experts have identified several distinct categories to help people understand better the complexity of the disorder.

Grandiose Narcissism

Grandiose narcissism is one of the most common types of narcissism, and it is the type that people usually associate with the disorder. Individuals with this type of narcissism tend to have an inflated sense of self-importance, show no empathy or regard for others, and crave for admiration and attention. They typically have a sense of entitlement and believe everything should revolve around them.

People with grandiose narcissism are often charming and charismatic, making them successful in their careers and social lives. However, they can become self-destructive if they do not receive the admiration and attention they want, leading to abusive behavior towards those around them.

Malignant Narcissism

Malignant narcissism is a severe form of the disorder that combines narcissistic traits with antisocial behavior, psychopathy, and sadism. Individuals with this type of narcissism are known for being manipulative, exploitative, aggressive, and violent. They lack empathy and remorse, and they often engage in criminal activities without any guilt or sense of accountability.

People with malignant narcissism usually have a history of abuse, trauma, or neglect in their childhood. Their behavior is not only harmful to those around them, but it can also lead them to self-destruction, as they often engage in risky behaviors and substance abuse to cope with their impulses and emotions.

Vulnerable Narcissism

Vulnerable narcissism, also known as covert narcissism, is a type that presents itself differently from grandiose narcissism. Individuals with this type of narcissism often appear shy, introverted, and insecure, but they have an underlying sense of entitlement and grandiosity. They tend to be hypersensitive to criticism, and they often feel victimized and misunderstood.

People with vulnerable narcissism usually have a history of emotional abuse, neglect, or invalidation in their childhood. They often struggle with social anxiety and have trouble forming meaningful relationships due to their inability to see others’ perspectives.

Cerebral Narcissism

Cerebral narcissism is a type of narcissism that is characterized by intellectual superiority and arrogance. Individuals with this type of narcissism often use their intelligence and skills to manipulate and control others, and they tend to devalue emotional intelligence and empathy. They often believe they are more intelligent than others, and they tend to avoid activities that do not involve intellectual stimulation.

People with cerebral narcissism usually have a history of academic success but struggle in social situations. They tend to have a limited range of interests and lack the ability to connect with others on an emotional level.

Somatic Narcissism

Somatic narcissism, also known as somatic personality disorder, is a type of narcissism that is characterized by an obsession with physical appearance and beauty. Individuals with this type of narcissism often invest a significant amount of time and money in their appearance, and they tend to use their physical attractiveness to manipulate and control others.

People with somatic narcissism usually have a history of being praised for their looks but struggle with their sense of self-worth outside their physical appearance. They tend to avoid activities that do not involve their physical appearance and may engage in risky behavior to maintain their beauty and attractiveness.

Conclusion

The different types of narcissism highlight the complexity and range of symptoms that individuals with the disorder may present. Understanding the type of narcissism a person exhibits is crucial to developing effective treatment strategies and improving their quality of life. While there is no cure for narcissistic personality disorder, therapy, medication, and support from loved ones can help reduce symptoms and avoid self-destructive behavior.

FAQs

What are the different types of narcissism?

There are three types of narcissism: grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, and communal narcissism. Grandiose narcissism involves an individual who has excessive self-esteem, an inflated sense of entitlement, and a desire for admiration. Vulnerable narcissism involves an individual with low self-esteem, hypersensitivity to criticism, and a need for constant reinforcement. Communal narcissism involves an individual who has a belief in their superiority in being able to contribute to society and help others.

How can you identify if someone has narcissistic tendencies?

There are a few key traits that are present in individuals with narcissistic tendencies. These include a lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, an excessive need for admiration, a tendency to exploit others, and a belief in their superiority. Other warning signs are a tendency to be controlling or manipulative, chronic lying or exaggeration, and an inability to take criticism. However, it’s important to note that not all individuals with narcissistic tendencies will exhibit all of these traits.

Is there treatment available for narcissism?

Although narcissism is a personality disorder that is difficult to treat, there are some treatment options available. The most common type of therapy used to treat narcissism is psychotherapy. This type of therapy focuses on teaching the individual how to manage their emotions, develop more empathy, and improve their relationships. However, it’s important to note that treatment for narcissism is often challenging, as individuals with this disorder often have a limited awareness of their behavior and lack the motivation to change.


References

1) Malkin, C. (2015). Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad–and Surprising Good–About Feeling Special. HarperOne. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/rethinking-narcissism-craig-malkin?variant=32131160120354

2) Rogoza, R., ┼╗emojtel-Piotrowska, M., Piotrowski, J., & Cieciuch, J. (2020). The Three Faces of Narcissism: Rethinking the Narcissism-Narcissistic Personality Inventory Relationship. Journal of Personality Assessment, 102(1), 22-32. doi: 10.1080/00223891.2019.1625877 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00223891.2019.1625877

3) Sedikides, C., Campbell, W. K., Reeder, G. D., & Elliot, A. J. (in press). The Self-Package: Narcissistic Self-Regulation Through Reputational Management. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2021.02.015 https://www.cell.com/trends/cognitive-sciences/fulltext/S1364-6613(21)00047-5