Linda Lee makes a very important distinction here, one I’ve always believed. I agree with her that, like her mother, many narcissists switch back and forth between the covert and overt subtypes. When supply is abundant, they tend to become more aggressive and grandiose (this is why my ex was harder for me to deal with when things were going well for him) but when supply is low, they switch to the more covert form. Whether or not someone is “covert” or “overt” might have more to do with their life circumstances than a real difference in the type of NPD they have. NPD is NPD and it’s all pretty much the same at it’s core.
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A post on Lucky Otter’s Haven, entitled Where does this silly idea that covert narcissism is the most malignant come from?, is spot on, in my opinion, about the differences between covert and overt narcissism. However, I believe there are some exceptions to Lucky’s observations. My mother is a case in point.
It seems to me that my mother’s narcissism is a mixture of overt and covert. When she has plenty of narcissistic supply, she is much more overt. But without supply she becomes covert, very down on herself and deeply depressed.
My mother was the “bad girl” scapegoat in her family of origin, while her only sibling, a gorgeous, smart, “good girl” younger sister, was the golden child. Even when I was very young, although I did not understand it in psychological terms, it was obvious when we visited my grandparents that my mother was an insecure wreck…
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