Understanding the Different Types of Narcissism

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a condition in which someone exhibits behaviour that indicates an inflated sense of self-importance and an excessive need for admiration from others. It is estimated that about 1% of the general population has NPD, but there are many different types of narcissism.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at three different types of narcissism – grandiose, vulnerable/covert, and malignant – and discuss how they can affect a person’s life.

Types of Narcissism – Grandiose Narcissism

Grandiose narcissism is characterized by arrogance, grandiosity, and a need for admiration from others. People who suffer from this type of narcissism often overestimate their abilities and talents while simultaneously devaluing those around them.

People with grandiose narcissism may also be very charming, charismatic, and persuasive. They believe they are better than others and are very entitled. In fact they can be difficult to deal with because they may become impatient or angry when their demands aren’t met.

The following are the main characteristics of grandiose narcissists –

A Sense of Supremacy and Entitlement – Grandiose narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance and a drive to be seen as superior or better than everyone else.

Lack of Empathy – Grandiose narcissists lack empathy for others and can be very manipulative in their interactions with them.

A Desire for Control – Grandiose narcissists have a strong need to control the people and situations around them.

Exploitation of Others – Grandiose narcissists will often exploit others to further their own goals without considering how it affects those around them.

Low Self-Awareness – Grandiose narcissists are typically unaware of their own flaws and weaknesses, leading to arrogance and even aggression when confronted with criticism or failure.

An Unhealthy Need For Attention – Grandiose narcissists need constant attention from those around them in order to feel validated and important.

Selfishness – Grandiose narcissists tend to be extremely selfish, often taking more than they give in any relationship or situation.

A Fear Of Abandonment or Rejection – Due to their fragile egos, grandiose narcissists are often afraid that relationships may fall apart if they don’t maintain control over it, causing them to act out in attempts to prevent abandonment or rejection from others

types of narcissism

Types of Narcissism – Vulnerable Narcissism

Vulnerable or covert narcissists often display the same overall traits as grandiose narcissists, but with one key difference – they’re much more sensitive to criticism than their grandiose counterparts.

Vulnerable narcissists tend to be hypersensitive to perceived slights or criticisms. They may lash out defensively if they feel slighted or judged in any way. They are emotionally volatile and easily angered, so they can be hard to handle in stressful situations or when things don’t go their way. This type of behaviour can lead to strained relationships with family and friends because these individuals struggle to take responsibility for their own shortcomings or mistakes.

The following are the main characteristics of vulnerable narcissists –

Low Self-Esteem – Vulnerable narcissists have a poor self-image, which can lead to feelings of insecurity and anxiety.

Hypervigilance – Vulnerable narcissists often feel the need to be constantly vigilant in order to protect themselves from criticism or judgment from others.

Moodiness & Anxiety– Vulnerable narcissists often find it difficult to regulate their emotions due to their lack of self-esteem and sense of vulnerability.

Fear Of Rejection Vulnerable narcissists are often hypersensitive to rejection and can experience intense bouts of fear if they feel someone is turning against them.

Sensitivity To Criticism – Due to their fragile egos, vulnerable narcissists are highly sensitive to criticism and may lash out when faced with it.

An Uncontrollable Need for Approval – Vulnerable narcissists crave approval from those around them in order to feel validated, which can lead them into unhealthy relationships with people who take advantage of them.

Perfectionism & Perfectionist Tendencies – Vulnerable narcissists strive for perfection in every aspect of their lives, leading to feelings of inadequacy when they don’t meet their own high standards or the expectations of others.

Seeking Attention Through Victimhood –Vulnerable narcissists may use victimhood as a way to gain attention and sympathy from those around them

types of narcissism

Types of Narcissism – Malignant Narcissism

Malignant narcissists are arguably the most dangerous type due to their tendency toward manipulation and aggression. This variant of narcissism is characterized by extreme selfishness, sadism, aggression, paranoia, and a lack of empathy for others.

Malignant narcissists often possess a deep need for power and control over those around them. In fact, they will go to great lengths to get it, and will not hesitate to use fear tactics like threats or verbal abuse. Oftentimes these individuals have no regard for rules or boundaries.

Malignant narcissists can be dangerous because they lack empathy for the feelings or needs of other people and will do whatever it takes to get what they want without regard for anyone else’s safety or wellbeing.

This type of narcissistic behaviour can lead to physical violence as well as psychological abuse if not kept in check by those around them.

The following are the main characteristics of malignant narcissists –

Antagonism & Aggression – Malignant narcissists often display hostile, aggressive and antagonistic behaviors towards those around them.

Lack of Empathy – Malignant narcissists lack empathy for others, resulting in a disregard for the feelings or well-being of those around them.

Paranoid Ideas – Malignant narcissists may experience paranoid thoughts and ideas due to their own distorted perception of the world around them.

Sadism & Cruelty – Malignant narcissists may take pleasure in inflicting emotional or physical pain on others, often displaying sadistic tendencies in their relationships with others.

Control & Manipulation – Malignant narcissists use manipulation and control as a way to maintain power over those around them, often resorting to abuse if necessary.

Deception and Machiavellianism – Malignant narcissists are typically highly deceptive and use Machiavellian tactics to achieve their goals without detection from the people around them.

Grandiosity and Unchecked Ambition – Malignant narcissists may have an excessive sense of grandiosity and ambition that cannot be tempered by reality or criticism from others.

A Disdain For Authority- Malignant narcissists can experience a strong disdain for anyone in a position of authority, with no qualms about disregarding rules or moral codes that do not suit their own needs

Tips on how to protect yourself from narcissists

All types of narcissism can be damaging to both yourself and those around you, whether it is grandiose, covert, or malignant. Protecting yourself from all the different types of narcissism is an important step in maintaining your mental and emotional wellbeing.

Set Boundaries – It’s important to identify and set boundaries with any narcissistic person in your life. Make sure they understand what you will and won’t tolerate, and stick to those boundaries.

Speak Up – Don’t be afraid to speak up when you feel uncomfortable or disrespected by a narcissistic person. Let them know calmly but firmly that their behavior is not acceptable.

Keep A Distance – Don’t engage in discussions with a narcissistic person if possible. Try to keep a safe distance so that you don’t become a target of their manipulations or anger.

Trust Your Instincts – Pay attention to how the narcissist makes you feel and act on it. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and take steps to protect yourself from further harm or manipulation from the narcissist in question.

Take Time For Yourself. Make sure to spend time away from the narcissist so that you can recharge and reclaim control over your life.

Seek Professional Help. If you find yourself in an untenable situation with a narcissist, don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals. They can provide support and guidance for dealing with such difficult personalities


Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a complex and multi-faceted condition affecting different aspects of someone’s life. Each one of the different types of narcissism has its own unique characteristics that set it apart from the rest. It is therefore important for those who know someone exhibiting narcissistic tendencies to understand these nuances so that they can provide support while also recognizing any potential risks associated with certain types of narcissistic behaviour.

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