Grandiose narcissism, a distinct form of narcissism, manifests itself through an individual’s delusions of grandeur. Individuals who exhibit this type of narcissism typically have an inflated sense of self-importance, viewing themselves as superior to the people around them. Their inflated ego is often supported by traits such as extreme arrogance, a strong sense of entitlement, and heightened aggression.
Grandiose narcissists believe that they are inherently special. This conviction fuels their tendency to manipulate others, and they will not hesitate to resort to dishonesty to achieve their goals.
While all forms of narcissism can be damaging, it’s essential to be aware of the specific threats posed by grandiose narcissism. By understanding its characteristics and potential harm, we can better protect ourselves and those around us.
What are the Main Traits of a Grandiose Narcissist?
Grandiose narcissists usually display the following traits:
Grandiose Narcissism: A Towering Sense of Self-Importance and an Immense Aura of Grandiosity
One of the most striking characteristics of grandiose narcissism is the individual’s magnified sense of self-importance and pervasive aura of grandiosity.
These individuals are not merely content with being equal to their peers. They firmly believe that they are superior to everyone else in every conceivable way.
Their self-image isn’t just inflated- it’s colossal.
They view themselves as extraordinary, possessing unique talents and qualities that set them apart from the rest of the world. This deep-seated conviction shapes their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in profound ways.
Furthermore, grandiose narcissists perceive themselves as immensely desirable and enviable. They operate under the assumption that everyone around them secretly admires their brilliance and longs to emulate their success.
They are convinced that their life, their achievements, and their persona represent the epitome of what others aspire to be.
This inflated sense of self-importance often leads to unrealistic expectations of preferential treatment and automatic compliance with their desires.
It also fuels their tendency to belittle or disregard the feelings and needs of others, as they consider themselves inherently more important and deserving
Grandiose Narcissism – An Insatiable Thirst for Admiration and Validation
One of the defining features of grandiose narcissists is their inexhaustible need for admiration and validation.
Their self-worth is intricately tied to the amount of attention and praise they receive from others, making them dependent on external affirmation to feel good about themselves.
These individuals will be the first to make their presence felt in any setting, whether it’s a social gathering or a business meeting.
With their dramatic entrances and flamboyant demeanor, they ensure all eyes are on them, effectively becoming the focal point of any room they enter.
Once they’ve captured the spotlight, grandiose narcissists work tirelessly to retain it.
They will monopolize conversations, turning them into platforms to boast about their accomplishments and successes, painting vivid pictures of their achievements, often exaggerating the truth to sound even more successful than they actually are.
Their need for admiration also manifests in their appearance and lifestyle choices.
Grandiose narcissists are typically drawn to ostentatious displays of wealth and status. They will invest in high-end designer outfits, drive luxury vehicles, or flaunt expensive accessories.
These outward symbols of success serve a dual purpose: they not only reinforce their inflated self-image but also signal their superiority to those around them.
Grandiose Narcissism – An Exaggerated Sense of Entitlement
The grandiose narcissist has an exaggerated, almost delusional sense of entitlement. They operate under the firm belief that they are inherently more deserving than others, and this conviction extends to every aspect of their life.
Grandiose narcissists see themselves as the center of the universe. They firmly believe that their needs, desires, and opinions should take precedence over those of others.
This heightened sense of entitlement often leads them to expect special treatment and privileges. They may demand priority service in public settings, insist on having the best of everything, or expect others to accommodate their preferences without question.
They genuinely believe that their exceptional status warrants such preferential treatment.
When their expectations of entitlement are not met, grandiose narcissists often react with anger, indignation, or resentment.
Grandiose Narcissism – A Profound Absence of Empathy
A notable trait of grandiose narcissists is their stark lack of empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. This absence isn’t necessarily due to an inability to comprehend other’s emotions but rather a lack of interest or willingness to do so.
Empathy can be broken down into two distinct types: emotional empathy and cognitive empathy.
Emotional empathy refers to the ability to physically feel what another person is experiencing, while cognitive empathy involves understanding someone else’s perspective or mental state without necessarily sharing their emotions.
Grandiose narcissists often exhibit a deficiency in both types of empathy. Their intense preoccupation with their own importance and superiority totally overshadows their capacity for emotional empathy.
They are so engrossed in their own world that the feelings and experiences of others barely register on their emotional radar.
Simultaneously, their cognitive empathy is also impaired.
Although they might have the intellectual capability to understand another person’s perspective, they typically choose not to.
This is not because they can’t, but because they see little value in doing so. To them, other people’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences are insignificant compared to their own.
This pervasive lack of empathy has profound implications for their relationships and interactions. It leads to insensitivity, disregard for others’ feelings, and a failure to acknowledge others’ needs and desires.
Grandiose Narcissism – An Inclination Towards Grandiose Fantasies
A defining characteristic of grandiose narcissists is their inclination towards grandiose fantasies. These individuals habitually envision themselves in scenarios of immense success, power, or admiration.
They perceive themselves as extraordinary beings destined for greatness or possessing unique talents that elevate them above the ordinary.
These fantasies serve multiple purposes in the mental framework of a grandiose narcissist.
Primarily, they reinforce the narcissist’s inflated self-perception and sense of superiority. By envisaging themselves in roles of significant achievement or influence, they validate their own belief in their exceptional status.
Secondly, these fantasies act as a buffer against reality. If a grandiose narcissist encounters failure or criticism, they can retreat into their fantasy world where they remain unchallenged and adored. This serves as a protective mechanism, shielding their fragile ego from the harsh realities of life.
Furthermore, grandiose fantasies often translate into real-world ambition.
Grandiose narcissists often strive to actualize their fantasies, leading them to pursue high-profile careers or seek out positions of power and influence. This can result in them achieving notable success in their chosen fields, further reinforcing their grandiose self-image.
However, this tendency to fantasize can also lead to detrimental consequences. The gap between their grandiose fantasies and reality can result in disappointment, frustration, or even depression when the real world fails to live up to their idealized vision.
Grandiose Narcissism – An Insatiable Quest for Power and Control
A hallmark trait of grandiose narcissists is their relentless pursuit of power and control. This quest is not limited to tangible aspects like wealth or position but extends to the psychological realm, where they seek to dominate conversations, relationships, and even the thoughts and emotions of those around them.
The grandiose narcissist can be domineering, demanding, and manipulative, employing a range of tactics to ensure their will prevails.
A common tactic is gaslighting, a manipulative strategy designed to make others question their reality and sanity. By distorting facts and denying wrongdoing, grandiose narcissists can create confusion and self-doubt in their victims, making them easier to control.
Another tactic is love bombing, where they shower their targets with affection and praise to win their trust and loyalty. Once hooked, the narcissist gradually exerts control over the person, resorting to criticism and emotional manipulation to maintain their abusive grip.
Abuse by proxy is yet another weapon in their arsenal. Here, the narcissist manipulates others to carry out their abusive behaviors, thereby maintaining control while avoiding direct culpability.
These tactics are part of a larger strategy aimed at asserting dominance and maintaining their inflated sense of self-importance. Anyone perceived as a threat to their power or self-image is swiftly undermined or dismissed.
Grandiose Narcissism – The Art of Curating a Prestigious Social Circle
Grandiose narcissists often exhibit an intriguing habit of meticulously curating their social circles. They want to be seen in the company of those who reflect their perceived grandeur and superiority.
This means that they will make an extraordinary effort to network with individuals who possess wealth, high social status, or other attributes that the narcissist finds appealing and advantageous.
By aligning themselves with people they consider successful or influential, grandiose narcissists believe they can bask in the reflected glory of these associations.
It’s a form of social climbing where they use relationships as stepping stones to enhance their own status and image.
Those who don’t meet their stringent criteria of wealth, status, or utility are often dismissed as unworthy or inferior. They view these individuals as beneath them, unable to contribute to their self-aggrandizing narrative.
This practice extends beyond individual relationships to encompass organizations, clubs, and social groups that can boost their prestige. Being part of exclusive circles gives them a sense of belonging to the elite class, reinforcing their inflated self-perception.
Grandiose Narcissism – A Propensity to Envy the Success of Others
A common characteristic of individuals with grandiose narcissism is their predisposition to envy those who possess what they covet.
This could be anything from physical attractiveness, wealth, professional success, social status, or any other attribute they perceive as desirable and a testament to their superiority.
This sense of envy stems from their deeply ingrained belief that they are inherently deserving of these coveted attributes. They view themselves as exceptional beings, destined for greatness, and therefore, worthy of all things desirable.
Consequently, when they observe others possessing these attributes, it triggers feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction. They perceive the success of others as a personal affront, an infringement on what they believe is rightfully theirs.
This envy often manifests itself in various ways. They might attempt to downplay the achievements of others, belittle their successes, or discredit their accomplishments to maintain their perceived superiority.
Alternatively, they might try to emulate or surpass those they envy in a relentless pursuit of validation and approval.
Grandiose Narcissism – An Absence of Self-Awareness and Insight
A defining characteristic of individuals with grandiose narcissism is their profound lack of insight into their own behavior and its impact on others.
They view themselves through a distorted lens that magnifies their virtues and obscures their faults.
Consequently, they are frequently oblivious to their problematic behavior and the negative effects it may have on those around them.
This lack of insight can manifest in various ways.
For instance, they might dismiss or trivialize the concerns and complaints of others, insisting that they are misunderstood or unfairly criticized.
They may also exhibit a persistent unwillingness to accept responsibility for their actions, often shifting blame onto others.
Moreover, this lack of self-awareness makes it extremely challenging for them to recognize that they need help or to seek therapeutic intervention.
Their inflated self-perception and defensiveness act as barriers to acknowledging their flaws and addressing their issues.
Even when confronted with evidence of their destructive behavior, they are likely to deny, rationalize, or deflect rather than confront the reality of their situation.
Narcissism – A Relentless Drive Towards Success and Achievement
At the core of the grandiose narcissist’s personality is an exceptional, often relentless, drive for success and achievement.
For the grandiose narcissist, success is not just about personal fulfillment or financial prosperity. It is about validation, about proving their worthiness, and about maintaining their self-perceived image of greatness.
They are driven by a compelling need to demonstrate their superiority and to be recognized and admired by others.
This extraordinary drive often manifests as tireless dedication and commitment to their goals. They will work long hours, take on challenging tasks, and persist in the face of adversity.
They are workaholics, willing to sacrifice personal relationships, leisure time, and even their health in pursuit of their ambitions.
The grandiose narcissist’s drive for success is also often linked to their willingness to exploit others. They may manipulate, deceive, or disregard the needs and rights of others if it serves their pursuit of success.
How to Deal with a Grandiose Narcissist
If you find yourself dealing with a grandiose narcissist, there are some things you can do to protect yourself:
One of the most effective strategies when dealing with a grandiose narcissist is setting clear and firm boundaries.
It’s crucial not to allow them to overstep or take advantage of your kindness and patience.
Define what behaviors you will tolerate and those you won’t.
This might involve standing up for yourself when they attempt to belittle or manipulate you, or limiting your interactions with them to certain situations or time frames.
Accept That They are Unlikely to Change
It’s important to understand and accept that grandiose narcissists are unlikely to change their behavior significantly.
Their lack of self-awareness and unwillingness to admit faults make it extremely difficult for them to seek or accept help.
Trying to change them can lead to frustration and disappointment.
Instead, focus on managing your interactions with them and protecting your own mental and emotional wellbeing.
If the grandiose narcissist’s behavior is negatively impacting you, it’s crucial to communicate this directly and assertively.
Choose a calm moment to express your feelings and concerns without resorting to blame or criticism, which they are likely to react defensively to.
Use “I” statements to express how their actions make you feel, such as “I feel disrespected when you disregard my opinions.”
Seek Professional Help
Dealing with a grandiose narcissist can be emotionally draining and psychologically damaging.
If you find yourself being abused or excessively troubled by their behavior, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.
Therapists or counselors can provide strategies to cope with the narcissist’s behavior, and offer support and validation for your experiences.
Cutting Ties When Necessary
In some cases, the best course of action may be to cut ties with the grandiose narcissist altogether.
This can be a difficult decision, especially when the narcissist is a family member or friend.
However, your mental and emotional wellbeing should always be the priority.
If the relationship becomes too toxic or destructive, distancing yourself from them can be the most effective form of self-protection
In conclusion, dealing with a grandiose narcissist can be a challenging and often draining experience. Their relentless drive for success and superiority, coupled with their inability to empathize, can make interactions difficult and emotionally taxing.
However, by implementing strategies such as setting clear boundaries, engaging in assertive communication and seeking professional help when necessary, it’s possible to navigate these relationships more effectively.
In extreme situations, cutting ties may be the best way forward.
Remember, it’s crucial to prioritize your own mental and emotional wellbeing. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Frequently Asked Questions about Grandiose Narcissism
What is grandiose narcissism?
Grandiose narcissism is a subtype of narcissistic personality disorder characterized by arrogance, assertiveness, and a strong desire for power and recognition. Individuals with this type of narcissism often have an inflated sense of their own importance and abilities.
How does a grandiose narcissist behave?
A grandiose narcissist often demonstrates a high level of confidence and self-importance. They may be overly concerned with their image and success, and frequently seek admiration and validation from others. They may also lack empathy and have a tendency to exploit others for their own gain.
Can a grandiose narcissist change?
While it’s possible for anyone to change given the right circumstances and motivation, it’s often difficult for grandiose narcissists due to their inflated self-perception and lack of insight into their behavior. Change typically requires professional help and a strong personal commitment to self-improvement.
How do I deal with a grandiose narcissist?
Dealing with a grandiose narcissist can be challenging, but setting clear boundaries, maintaining assertive communication, accepting their unlikelihood to change, seeking professional help when necessary, and distancing yourself if needed, are effective strategies.
Are grandiose narcissists dangerous?
Not all grandiose narcissists are dangerous in a physical sense, but their behavior can be harmful emotionally and psychologically. They can cause significant stress and anxiety, and their tendency to manipulate and exploit others can lead to emotional abuse.
Is grandiose narcissism the same as sociopathy?
While there are some similarities between grandiose narcissism and sociopathy, such as a lack of empathy and a willingness to exploit others, they are not the same. Sociopathy is characterized by a disregard for the rights of others and societal norms, while grandiose narcissism is primarily characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance.
Can grandiose narcissism be treated?
Yes, grandiose narcissism can be treated, usually through psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be particularly effective as it helps individuals to recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. However, treatment can be challenging as grandiose narcissists often lack insight into their behavior and may resist therapy
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Carla Corelli is an author, advocate, and survivor of narcissistic abuse. Having grown up with a narcissistic father, Carla experienced firsthand the profound impact of psychological and emotional abuse. Fueled by her personal journey, she pursued a degree in psychology and has dedicated herself to shedding light on the complexities of narcissistic abuse.
With over fifteen years of experience in writing and advocating for survivors, Carla is deeply committed to providing support, education, and empowerment to those who have endured similar trauma. Through her insightful articles and resources, Carla endeavors to offer a compassionate space for healing and growth, while advocating for greater awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse.
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