Communal Narcissism Traits – The Intersection of Empathy and Egotism

When we think of narcissism, what comes to mind are images of grandiosity, entitlement, and self-centeredness. Yet not all narcissists fit into this stereotype. In recent years, a new type of narcissism has emerged – communal narcissism.

Understanding the traits that define communal narcissism is essential to make sense of the complex and often counterintuitive ways in which these individuals operate.

So, what exactly is communal narcissism?

At its core, communal narcissism refers to the tendency of certain individuals to exhibit narcissistic traits that are couched in prosocial, altruistic behaviours.

In other words, communal narcissists may seem to be caring, empathetic, and selfless – but underneath this veneer lies a powerful ego that can distort their interactions with others.

What is a Communal Narcissist?

A communal narcissist comes into being at the intersection of empathy and egotism.

On the surface, communal narcissists appear to be highly empathetic and attuned to the needs of others.

They go out of their way to help other people, offering their time, skills, and resources to support a worthy cause or individual.

However, the empathy that communal narcissists express is often intertwined with a deep-seated need for validation and recognition.

As a result, communal narcissists engage in behaviours that appear selfless on the surface, but are actually driven by a desire for ego gratification.

For example, a communal narcissist will donate money to a charity, but do so in a way that ensures they receive public recognition for their generosity.

communal narcissist

Or they may take on a leadership role in a community group, but use their power to further their own interests or agendas.

This interplay between empathy and egotism can be difficult to detect, especially since communal narcissists are skilled at masking their true intentions.

They use their apparent altruism as a shield against criticism, deflecting any accusations of self-centeredness by pointing to their selfless actions.

Furthermore, the communal narcissist’s desire for validation may be deeply ingrained, often stemming from childhood experiences of neglect or abuse.

As a result, they genuinely believe that their behaviours are driven by a desire to help others, even as they ignore their own underlying motivations.

communal narcissism traits

The Key Traits of Communal Narcissism

Communal narcissists exhibit the same traits as other types of narcissists, such as entitlement, grandiosity, and a need for admiration.

However, these traits are often expressed in more subtle and covert ways within the context of prosocial behaviour.


Selflessness with Strings Attached

Communal narcissists are often deeply committed to acts of selflessness and altruism, but their charitable acts are driven by a need for recognition, admiration, and validation.

They donate to charity, volunteer their time, or perform other tasks that appear virtuous and selfless, but they do so in a way that ensures they receive recognition and praise for their deeds.

Selective Empathy

Communal narcissists are often highly empathetic towards certain individuals or groups, especially those who they feel will provide them with the validation they crave.

Conversely, they lack empathy towards others who they perceive as less deserving of their attention, or who are less likely to boost their reputation within their chosen community.


Covert Aggression

Communal narcissists use subtler forms of aggression than traditional narcissists.

They often engage in passive-aggressive behaviour, or use guilt, shame or other manipulative tactics to get others to give them attention or support.

They present themselves as meek, kind-hearted and caring, but behind the façade lies a desire for control over those around them.

communal narcissism traits

Charisma and Charm

Communal narcissists are often highly skilled at convincing others of their value, and they can be very persuasive when trying to gain support for their causes.

They use their charm and charisma to build loyalty among their followers, and they have a remarkable ability to convince others to do their bidding.

Anxiety and Vulnerability

Although communal narcissists are often proud and self-assured, they also experience underlying feelings of anxiety, vulnerability or self-doubt.

This sense of insecurity drives them towards narcissistic behaviours that enhance their status within their chosen community, or help stave off any feelings of inadequacy.

communal narcissism traits

The Need to Belong

Communal narcissists have a deep-seated need to belong, to be a part of a community where they are respected and admired.

They often feel isolated, rejected or misunderstood outside of this community, and will go to great lengths to maintain their place within it.

Resistance to Criticism

Communal narcissists tend to be highly resistant to criticism, and may view any form of feedback or dissent as a personal attack on their character.

They also tend to blame others for their failures or shortcomings, and may be reluctant to take responsibility for their actions or decisions.

The Quest for Status

Communal narcissists are highly focused on achieving status and recognition within their chosen community.

They view their accomplishments as a reflection of their worth as a person, and are highly competitive with others who are vying for the same position or level of recognition.

illusion of altruism

The Illusion of Altruism

Communal narcissists often present themselves as selfless, altruistic and caring individuals, but this is just an illusion.

Their altruism serves as a means to an end, a way to gain admiration, power, and validation from others.

They may even use their altruism as a shield or excuse to mask their self-centred behaviour.

Communal narcissists will not hesitate to leverage a sense of obligation or indebtedness to manipulate others into doing what they want.

For example, a communal narcissist may guilt-trip a friend or family member into supporting their cause, or shame a colleague into doing extra work on a project.


The Belief in an Idealized Self

Communal narcissists have an idealized image of themselves as kind, generous, and virtuous individuals.

They believe that they are morally superior to others, and may see themselves as saviours or heroes within their chosen community.

This constant aspiration for perfection can make it difficult for them to recognize their own faults and failings.

Furthermore, communal narcissists demand unquestioning loyalty from those around them, insisting that anyone who does not support their goals is a traitor or enemy.

They also view any criticism or dissent as a personal attack on their character, rather than as a healthy form of feedback or dialogue.

Communal Narcissism Traits - The Intersection of Empathy and Egotism

Final Thoughts on Communal Narcissism Traits

In conclusion, communal narcissism represents an underexplored area of narcissistic personality disorder.

The intersection of empathy and egotism is a key defining feature of communal narcissism, and can make it difficult to identify and address these traits in individuals.

It is also worth noting that, in some cases, communal narcissism can lead to positive outcomes, such as increased giving or volunteering.

Nevertheless, when these traits are taken to the extreme and used as a means of manipulation and control, they can become harmful to both the individual and the community around them.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissism

Frequently Asked Questions About The Communal Narcissist

What is a communal narcissist?

A communal narcissist is an individual who exhibits narcissistic traits but disguises them under the guise of being selfless, generous, and caring. They derive their narcissistic supply by presenting themselves as morally superior and highly altruistic, often using acts of kindness and philanthropy to gain admiration and control over others.

How does a communal narcissist differ from other types of narcissists?

Communal narcissists differ from other types of narcissists in that they focus on projecting an image of selflessness and generosity rather than overt displays of grandiosity. While they may engage in philanthropic acts, they often do so with the intention of receiving praise, admiration, and control, rather than genuinely caring for others.

What are some common characteristics of a communal narcissist?

Some common characteristics of a communal narcissist include:
– Presenting themselves as highly moral and principled individuals
– Engaging in acts of generosity or charity to gain admiration and control
– Seeking validation and attention through their altruistic deeds
– Viewing themselves as saviors or heroes and needing others to recognize their importance
– Manipulating others by playing the role of the selfless caregiver
– Expecting constant appreciation and recognition for their efforts
– Struggling with empathy and genuine emotional connection

How can I cope with a communal narcissist in my life?

Coping with a communal narcissist involves:
– Setting clear boundaries and not allowing yourself to be guilted or manipulated
– Recognizing and validating your own needs and emotions
– support from friends, family, or a therapist who can provide perspective and guidance
– Developing a strong sense of self-worth and not relying on the communal narcissist for validation
– Being aware of their tactics and manipulation techniques to protect yourself from emotional harm

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