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The Nature & Types Of Narcissists

Self-published author and avid reader living in the UK. Former victim and now a researcher of narcissistic abuse.

Malignant Narcissism

Not all narcissists, or forms of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), are the same. Researchers have now come to various different conclusions regarding the disorder. Additionally, malignant self-love/narcissism is something that is widely misunderstood and misperceived in society—unless you have the misfortune to experience narcissistic abuse first-hand.

Many sources of information claim that there are two main types of malignant narcissism, cerebral and somatic. Whilst many narcissists are usually either one or the other, some narcissists also display both cerebral and somatic characteristics. Additionally, there are also many various subtypes of NPD, and as times goes on, more and more information is being unveiled on the subject.

James F. Masterson proposed just two categories for pathological narcissism, exhibitionist (overt) and closet (covert/stealth), whereas Theodore Millon identified five variations of narcissist:

  • Unprincipled
  • Amorous
  • Compensatory
  • Elitist
  • Fanatic

These are certainly not the only types of NPD/malignant narcissism that have been identified. Additionally, the term Acquired Situational Narcissism (ASN) has now been coined by professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, Robert B. Millman.

Despite extensive recent research and literature on the topic, NPD remains a highly controversial subject which is still open to much debate and there are currently two schools of thought on the causes of malignant narcissism.

Recent research shows that studies on sets of twins shows that those who had high levels of narcissistic traits also had twins that showed high levels of narcissistic traits and therefore they assume that the research shows a genetic link. However, if environment, nurturing and upbringing contributes to the development of the disorder then it's also reasonable to believe that each twin, in any given set of twins, would have developed narcissistic traits due to their upbringing having came from the same family.

There is therefore no real basis on which to assume that malignant narcissism must be a result of genetics, as claimed, according to the study. Their false positive result comes from confirmation bias. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a genetic component which contributes towards NPD.

Subtypes Of Narcissism

The Classic/Overt Narcissist

The classic/overt narcissist is an egomaniac and a control freak. Classic narcissists expect you to adhere to their wishes, even if they go against your morals. Confront them and they will most likely fly into a narcissistic rage.

Given their lack of empathy the victim must do whatever is required to uphold the narcissist's false self or the victim will be made to face the narcissist's wrath... and this can be dangerous.

The Inverted Narcissist

Although the inverted narcissist has grandiose fantasies and in many cases is often talented, these fantasies are rarely showcased in overt behaviour because the inverted narcissist is so full of self-doubt. They feel incapable and inadequate which then places limitations on their abilities and so they never go on to achieve what they are truly capable of in life.

The inverted narcissist is co-dependent and so they seek out a relationship with a classic narcissist, someone who they can become dependent upon and someone who can control ("look after") them. The inverted narcissist would rather pass all responsibility on to their classic narcissist partner.

The Cerebral Narcissist

The cerebral narcissist sees their self as being more intelligent and knowledgeable than anyone else, on any subject and they use their intelligence to attain narcissistic supply. They are always right, even when they are wrong and they hate it when they are wrong. For this reason, they are always right, even when they know you know they are wrong.

The cerebral narcissist always has a story to tell about any topic mentioned and often interrupts the conversation to shift the focus of attention on to their self. They offer the best advice available in their opinion, even better than the experts, and they believe you are a fool if you do not follow their advice, no matter how distorted their world-view is.

The Somatic Narcissist

Whereas the cerebral narcissist uses their intelligence to attain narcissistic supply, instead the somatic narcissist uses their body and so, if the are female, they become a nymphomaniac. If male, they become a satyr.

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The somatic narcissist has a consistent supply of multiple sexual partners, sometimes of the same gender and sometimes simultaneously. Such behaviour for a somatic narcissist is as normal as having a cup of tea.

The Covert/Stealth/Closet Narcissist

The covert or stealth narcissist is the most dangerous of all forms of the personality disorder. Covert narcissists work behind the scenes, off the radar of perception. They are faceless and under cover. Covert (malignant) narcissism is known to be more common in females than it is in males. Stealth narcissists often use gaslighting and hypnotic communication techniques to convince their victim they are going crazy.

Covert narcissists suck their victims into their lives and wait for a cue that their victim has become emotionally attached to them. Once this has been established, the covert narcissist then destroys the victim's identity and resorts to emotional blackmail and mental abuse to manipulate and control the victim.

The covert narcissist usually has many secret one-night-stands leading to secret affairs (sometimes within the family) over the years and destroys the victim's reputation outside of their awareness, by spreading truths mixed with malicious lies.

The Elite Narcissist

Elite narcissists are usually highly successful people who are more concerned with material assets, money, wealth and power, rather than true emotion. However, the elite narcissist is not just a rich powerful business man or woman, they often use deceptive tactics and walk over other people to get what they want.

They may have also developed a legitimate business as a cover for the dodgy dealings that happen behind the scenes which is where they are truly making their money. The elite narcissist is not just a charlatan who has used deceptive means to get what they want, they are building an entire false self (long-term) based on their deception and even their nearest and dearest may perceive them as a good genuine person.

Threaten their perceived false self and you will likely be eliminated with no empathy.

The Narcissistic Psychopath

Brian Blackwell has been described as a narcissistic psychopath. Blackwell was diagnosed with NPD after his parents confronted him about fraudulently applying for thirteen credit cards in his father's name (to uphold the false self he had been portraying to his girlfriend, who was a professional tennis player).

To protect his false self, Blackwell killed both his parents with a claw hammer and stabbed his mother approximately thirty times before setting off on holiday with his girlfriend for two weeks. He then went on to spend £30,000 of his father's money on a three-night stay at the Plaza Hotel with his girlfriend, while his parents' bodies remained in the house.

Blackwell's court case was the first court case to ever use the diagnosis of NPD as mitigating circumstances. The charge of murder was dropped to manslaughter, though he still faces life in prison.

Evolution Of Narcissism

Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, is one of the only people who has attributed narcissism to the selfish gene, as proposed in Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. However, it seems that the concept of the selfish gene has been misperceived.

The word "selfish" in the term selfish gene does not relate to self-centeredness or selfishness but is labelled "selfish" because it is the only gene which mutates prior to replication - hence "the selfish gene" is the gene responsible for all evolution of life on Earth.

Rather interestingly, the Bible states that a malignancy of narcissism will be abundant when we are in the endtimes (and also offers some good advice):

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

In evolutionary psychology, narcissism relates to assortative mating which is the process of choosing a non-random person for the purpose of procreating. Healthy levels of narcissism therefore help us to choose a suitable mate with similar genetic characteristics enhancing the likelihood of stable reproduction.

We subconsciously choose someone who mirrors ourself; therefore, it makes sense that incest exists in some families where there is a malignancy of narcissism. Additionally, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) shows us how we subconsciously mirror other people's body language to give them signals that we are alike (building rapport). This is why so many couples tend to look and act similarly to each other.

© 2013 Marc Hubs


Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on May 01, 2017:

You always have to look at the bigger picture from outside the box, not from within it. Your experience is subjective. Of course, there are also many male covert narcs - agreed... usually they have a component of Borderline Personality Disorder. It's more often seen in females than in men but that doesn't mean that men don't have it. Most male narcissists are overt/classic.

AC on April 03, 2017:

Covert narcs are more common in females..... I don't know about that one from my life experience! It may look that way to the outside but trust and believe males definitely play this role a lot more than when to win you over! That's why so many women get their heartbroken and can become crazy acting.


Excellent Article.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on February 26, 2013:

And thank you for sharing!

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on February 26, 2013:

Being a narc themselves would certainly explain it.

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on February 25, 2013:

I can not fathom a person who fully grasps NPD and considers it "all-good," unless perhaps it was one who worships the opposing deity or are themselves a narcissist. I started an NPD resource page on FB and I would like to share some of your hubs on it.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on February 25, 2013:

Again I have to agree with you, everyone may have their own theories or beliefs on NPD but there is a lot written on the subject by people of various different walks of life and a lot of the information available is conflicting. Some people, perhaps a small number, even believe that there is nothing bad about being a narcissist and that being so self-serving is all-good. Clearly, they fail to understand the truly negative aspects of the disorder.

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on February 24, 2013:

I do not know what you think of this, but from my perspective I know in academia the law of the land is "publish or perish." I think that sometimes results in some weak material being published with undue weight because it is from the "expert" who had to "publish or perish." Of course, most of the "experts" have never personally dealt with or been the target of a malignant narcissist. Some have a good grasp on NPD anyway, but others clearly do not. The difference between the two is often very obvious when you start reading their work. I always tell someone to be sure to get a therapist who specializes in this area, because otherwise they may just end up with a therapist who does not understand anymore than anyone else around the target understands.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on February 24, 2013:

I have to agree with you Gail, thanks for the comment. Assortative mating shows that we seek self-reflection in a relationship partner therefore it makes sense that narcissistic parents have children together. It makes it much easier for them to uphold their false selves and to provide twice as much cover for the acts that happen behind the scenes. And yes, they certainly do choose to abuse. It's not coincidence that the abuse only takes place when it's not likely to get found out about.

Studies may indicate a genetic link but in my opinion the evidence is extremely weak and is often based on assumption, which is scientifically invalid. Especially considering the "survival of the fittest" theory, it makes sense that their genes would have evolved according to their environmental conditions, as you pointed out, and therefore any genetic link would probably be a result of those environmental conditions, rather than geneticism.

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on February 23, 2013:

I think sexual abuse exists in a lot of these situations because a narcissist will so often marry another narcissist. A pedophile is nearly the empitome of a narcissist by any definition. Incest also fits right in to the inverted parenting. Among those incest survivors, some will go on to abuse their own children and many will not. Hence, free will, meaning they choose to abuse.

In my opinion pathological narcissism of any kind is a mental, emotional and spiritual issue. I would buy the theory that malignant narcissism runs spiritually down a family line with environmentally learned factors or responses included before I would buy the idea that it is genetic. I think free will is involved, they choose evil and they continue choosing it. Voted up and interesting.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on February 23, 2013:

Thank you abbykorinnelee, I'm glad you found it useful. Thanks for commenting.

Abby Malchow from Ripon, Wisconsin on February 23, 2013:

Very well articulated and an engaging, informational read.

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