Understanding and Handling the 4 Types of Narcissism

Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

A study conducted showed 1 in 16 Americans suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder.

It can be difficult to identify who has a narcissistic trait and who suffers from a disorder. If you spot the signs, the best thing you can do is distance yourself.

In this article, we’ll break down 4 common types of narcissism so you know how to identify and handle them.

1. Overt Narcissism

Almost everyone has had an encounter with an overt narcissist for this is the most common out of all the types of narcissism.

Overt narcissists tend to always be loud. No matter what, they are always right and seek to control people and situations.

You will always know when you’re in their presence because they are obnoxious and quite oppressive.

This narcissist has high expectations and will make sure other people know it. If you don’t live up to their unrealistic expectations, they’re not afraid to give you their opinion even if you don’t want to hear it.

Their large egos lead them to believe their ways are better and they’re not afraid to let you know. This is one of the reasons why they come across as bullies.

They make themselves bigger and more powerful by tearing down those people around them. Mocking, belittling, and even threatening are their weapons of choice.

Overt narcissists don’t tend to feel remorse after their brutal verbal attacks.

The best way to deal with this type is by not confronting them directly. If you try to confront them or challenge them, they won’t play fair.

Try to avoid them as much as possible and put as much distance between you and them. Don’t keep them in your immediate circle of friends or let them into your private life.

If you must deal with them on a regular basis, listen to what they have to say but don’t give it too much importance. Having a sense of humor will help you dodge any attacks.

2. Seductive Narcissism

It’s more difficult to spot a seductive narcissist because they don’t employ vicious attacks. Unlike other types of narcissism, this type will make you feel good about yourself.

They always start by showering their victims with compliments and building them up. One might get the impression that the narcissist idolizes you when in fact, they hide their real motives.

In reality, they are looking for their victims to do the same for them. They constantly need their egos built and seek validation.

Most of them have more than one person at the same time in order to maintain the level of attention they desire.

Another characteristic is their hot and cold approach. They are affectionate for a short period before they withdraw and become distant.

Then the cycle starts over again which creates a toxic attachment to the victim.

It may be difficult to stay away from them especially when you like all the compliments they give you. Try to remain humble and not get addicted to the extra attention they provide you with.

Observe how they treat the people who they don’t typically flatter or have conflicts with. Try to cut ties with them and don’t maintain a friendship after it’s over.

3. Covert Narcissism

This type of narcissist tends to be the most two-faced of them all. When they’re outside their home, or out of reach from those closest to them they put on a good face.

They might come across as thoughtful, kind, and figures of high moral integrity, but the truth is they are the complete opposite. They are cruel and manipulative to their immediate family and close friends.

These narcissists are often people in positions of power who have to maintain a well-liked image. Politicians, teachers, religious leaders, and other positions of authority hold the most covert narcissists.

Most of their public tactics are parasitic, which means they pretend to obtain what they want from others without having to do any of the work. They will trick you out of money, favors, and anything else just so they can obtain more power.

In their private life, they use cruelty and extreme cases of manipulation to get what they want. Even when they are cruel and manipulative they still play the role of the victim.

It might seem impossible to learn how to deal with a covert narcissist, especially if they’re a family member.

The first thing you should do is try to avoid engaging in their blame games. Don’t criticise them in public, always do it in private. When you talk to them focus on the positive things they do rather than in all the negative.

4. Vindictive Narcissism

Out of all the types of narcissism, this is the most dangerous. Although they share some characteristics with overt narcissists, they will make it their life mission to make their victim’s lives a nightmare.

They always want to feel superior and if you challenge their superiority or status they will make you pay.

These people love chaos and feed off the negative outcomes they create. They enjoy talking behind people’s backs and creating conflict where there wasn’t any.

If they ever consider you an enemy, you should be careful because they will stop at nothing to destroy your life.

They might resort to damaging your career through slander, instigating in your personal relationships, and any other way they can think of.

While you can still manage to tolerate an overt narcissist who is a bully, a vindictive narcissist is a whole other game.

If you spot one early enough, try to distance yourself as soon as you can. Sometimes it’s difficult to spot them because they’re experts in disguising their true nature.

Once you’re their victim, the only thing you can do is collect as much evidence against them as possible.

Keep all methods of communication sustained such as emails, texts, notes, and anything else you can present as hard evidence.

Do You Recognize These Types of Narcissism?

It’s difficult to deal with narcissistic people in your life. The key is to understand this condition and know how to distance yourself.

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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

9 thoughts on “Understanding and Handling the 4 Types of Narcissism”

  1. I am dating a woman that “claims” she was married to a Narcissist for 15 years. My question is do you thinks she may be a Narcissist from these traits I continually notice?

    Silent treatment can go silent for 3 – 4 days then say well why didn’t you text me is your finger broken? Phone works both ways
    Constantly talks about her jerk ex, they have been divorced 8 years
    Compares things I do to her ex “my ex did that”
    Always asking if I’m mad at her
    Can be suddenly moody
    Can seem very depressed at times
    Constantly says reality sucks
    Very cutting and mean in arguments
    Very sarcastic in arguments
    Often challenges my integrity during arguments “ she will say I don’t believe your sorry”
    My life is so busy I told you that at the beginning
    Constantly repeats negative statements
    Spends money even though she does not appear to have it 9complains about finances constantly)
    Can’t sleep – can’t turn off her mind
    Endless energy
    Likes to read my mind as to what she feels I’m thinking
    Twists the blame on me
    Overuse of foul language
    Likes to read into what I am saying of texting
    Talk disrespectfully to me even after asking her to please not to talk to me like that
    Has cancelled plans suddenly on me at least a dozen times in 6 months for various reasons
    She shows or wants little affection unless she wants sex (I know a man’s dream right)
    Lacks empathy at times
    She will never say sorry if she is wrong
    Feels some friends are jealous of her
    Often talks about ex boyfriends, rates their sexual prowess
    Emotionally unavailable at times
    Severe stubbornness
    Reminds me of my past mistakes in the relationship
    Relationship runs on her terms
    Tends to have some falling outs with family and friends
    Constantly worried I was going to “get sick” or “tired” of her
    Angers easily
    I almost feel that she knows I am going to see the real her eventually
    Seems at times like she is sabotaging the relationship – pushing away
    Constantly complains about aches and pains
    “I have red hair” don’t piss me off
    Often says “I was just kidding” if she feels she over stepped her boundaries”
    Seems almost proud of her sexual past
    My life sucks
    My job sucks
    Often complains about friends and family behind their backs
    Very vocal aggressive driver

    • Why are you staying in this hell? Even if she isn’t a narcissist why waste your time trying to figure her out. Tell her you ARE sick of all of it and go out and find someone who deserves you. Please.

  2. I have good reason to believe my grandchildren have a narcissistic parent. How do I protect them so they do not grow up with issues? I watch children deal with an adult that should be nurturing, but actually is inflicting mental abuse. If I say something I’m meddling. I’ve assessed myself to see if I’m the problem and is how I happened upon Narcissism checklists. And now I am having OMG moments!! I do have stories to tell and share 🙁

  3. I am so grateful for this website and for these articles. I am on the way out of a 5 year relationship with what I read in your article, is a Vindictive Narcissist. I have received the silent treatment almost from the very beginning, I am blamed for anything and everything, he is a gaslighter for certain, and the most recent and worst of all…. he is damaging many many of my belongings. I rent an apartment above a shop on his 5 acre property, which he lives in the big fancy house next door. He comes in my home when I am not here, and pilfers thru all of my belongings. Recently my antiques have been damaged by a knife…. carving and shaving…. all my antique mirrors have had the backs scraped off and chips in them now, my clothing has disappeared, my shoes all damaged, and one shoe of several pairs are missing. He shops in my cupboards and removes food, and all the while denying all of it. I told him that I had cameras, and he is in over 200 episodes. I gave all of these videos, and access to any new ones, to a paralegal that I have paid over $800 to get them in some kind of order and to identify the criminal activity that exists, if any in each video. Im a total train wreck and have missed so much work because I am scared to leave my house. I am starting to pack up my house and I have a safe place to move to, but he has dismantled two vehicles and a tent trailer that was given to me by a client of mine. I just want it to stop and as soon as I get everything out of here, I am coming at him with everything I have compiled. I am not so great with the daily log thing, but usually inform him of the damage done daily via text, and I believe that can be used as a calendar in court. Please tell me areas that I need to cover, if any, and I have signed up for a couple of your webinars and I know they will help me, because I feel so much better to see all of it in black and white. His intention is to destroy me completely and I am hanging on with a thread. After reading many of your articles…. I feel empowered. Thank you so very much!!!

    • WOW! You just told my little sisters story with a man she was married to for over 30 years. She is living with me now. She finally left him in April. Even though they got divorce he still try’s to control her. I am so worried for her. He’s starting to make treats now. He was abusive in every way possible. Even their 2 kids try to encourage her to stay away from their dad. Im so sorry you’re dealing with all that you are. Prayers for all who are dealing with someone like this.

  4. I am a seductive narcissist. This description fits perfectly to my behavior with people. I am glad I have recognized it because I don’t want to hurt anyone anymore. I am wondering if I should go to a therapist or try to solve it myself.

    • Yes. A.D.
      Find a counselor that can help you with DBT or CBT. It will help you manage strong emotions of shame or anger when you feel upset or let your mind focus on things that make you feel less-than. I’ve been married to a man for 20 years with this type of NPD and possibly the Covert type as well. He has cheated on me since the first month of marriage and of course I had no idea it until years later. He needs sexual attention from other woman because it makes him feel good about himself. When he’s feeling ok, he is nice to me and the kids, but every three days or so, something I do makes him become irrate at me. Lately it’s that I’m dead weight because I’m not working full time. Other days I didn’t initiate sex enough, sometimes the house isn’t clean enough. He constantly is looking for other women to flirt with or hook up with. He says it’s because he deserves more than what I give him. We have teenagers now and are trying to make things work for them. Yes my life it hell. But from all the things I’ve studied and learned along the way, what you’re feeling is hell inside too.
      So find counselors that provide Cognitive or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (CBT, DBT)
      There’s hope!

    • AD, not sure if my other reply went through. So this one will be short. If you recognize characteristics, and are willing to figure stuff out, then you have hope. Find a counselor that provides DBT or CBT therapies. They can help you manage strong emotions of anger and shame. Best of luck.


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