Grandiose and “vulnerable” narcissists: how do they differ?

This got buried for awhile, but I think it’s one of my best posts about narcissism, so here it is again.

Lucky Otters Haven

beggar_king
Both the beggar and the king could be narcissists with a different M.O.

An interesting article in Psychology Today explains the difference between grandiose (invulnerable) narcissists, and “vulnerable” narcissists. Either can be somatic or cerebral, and either can also be malignant or non-malignant.

The two kinds of narcissists can seem very different on the surface:

Grandiose narcissists can seem emotionally cold, convinced of their achievements or success, and rarely if ever talk about their fears or their problems. They can be very quick to judge others though. On the surface they seem strong and tough. You won’t see them show emotions other than rage or pride, and if they are ever sad or fearful, you will never see that side of them. Like all narcissists, they are never happy,but they can “act” happy if they need to. And like all narcissists, they are incapable of love but may be able…

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3 common types of narcissists.

When most people think of a narcissist, they picture the stereotype:  a successful, wealthy male who is arrogant, grandiose about his appearance or achievements or intelligence, acts entitled, greedy, lacking in empathy, and is emotionally abusive to his underlings and his family.   He thinks far too highly of himself and while no one likes him, everyone respects him (or is terrified of him).  He doesn’t care if you’re scared of him or not; he just wants you to worship him and do his bidding.

But most narcissists actually don’t fit this stereotype. The traditional DSM description of Narcissistic Personality Disorder fit this stereotype best though, and that’s probably why most people picture an arrogant, successful man when they hear the term NPD.   While there definitely are narcissists who fit that description, most probably don’t.   And while NPD is usually diagnosed in males (females are far more likely to be labeled BPD or HPD), in actuality it’s probably just as common in women.  They’re just less likely to have been diagnosed with it.

I think one reason why NPD is more often given to males is because the label is so stigmatizing that it’s usually only given to people who have broken the law, and the vast majority of convicted criminals are male  (ASPD–antisocial personality disorder–is also commonly given to men who have broken the law).

I’ve noticed three main types of narcissists, and they can be either male or female.   Only the first type–the grandiose or overt narcissist–fits the traditional stereotype.

1. The Grandiose Narcissist.

kitten_sees_lion

The grandiose, or overt narcissist, fits the traditional stereotype of someone with NPD.   There are probably more males of this type than females, but both exist.    A grandiose narcissist is drunk on pride, and will become extremely angry or abusive should you question his superiority or attempt to expose him as the narcissist he really is.   Most grandiose narcissists are successful, though not all are.   Those who aren’t successful act as if they were, spending money they don’t have and bragging about achievements they never earned (or exaggerating them).   They use others for their own gain because they can’t recognize that those around them are human beings with feelings, not objects to be used and discarded as they see fit.  Grandiose narcissists expect you to worship them and look up to them as paragons of superiority in whatever they have deemed themselves to be the “best” at–maybe it’s their appearance or body (somatic narcissist) or maybe it’s their intelligence or achievements (cerebral narcissist).   If you criticize them they become extremely upset and angry and will either attack or sometimes, give you the silent treatment.  They expect the world from you but will give you nothing in return, for you, lowly servant, only exist to worship them and give them the admiration and adulation they expect as their birthright.

A woman of this type is likely to be conceited about her beauty or perfect physical appearance, and looks down on those who don’t fit her standards of physical perfection.  But there are plenty of cerebral female narcissists too.  Both types tend to act snobbish and arrogant toward those they regard as beneath them.   She will also be demanding and high maintenance in relationships, demanding constant attention and adulation. She would never admit it but she is actually extremely needy and will eventually drive away lovers (or unceremoniously discard them herself when they fail to meet her impossible standards).

The next two types are both examples of the covert narcissist.  Covert narcissists are less grandiose but in their own ways, they act just as entitled and have little to no empathy.   They are a lot less obvious than the grandiose type, and because of that, can be more dangerous because you never expected such a “nice” person to be so abusive.  Covert narcissists are the real crazymakers, because they’re good at twisting everything around to make you seem like the abuser or “bad guy” while they remain blameless.

2. The Do-Gooder.

dogooder

Mother Teresa herself has nothing on the Do-Gooder.   She is a saint, a paragon of virtue, and never, ever does anything wrong.  She attends church every Sunday,  reads her Bible, volunteers at the food pantry or at the church or school, and if she can afford to, gives a good chunk of her money to various charitable organizations.   She’s the stereotypical Jewish mother who always frets and worries about your well-being, but is really overbearing and her “overprotection” is really all about controlling you.   She will smother you with her “concern” and make you long to escape to freedom.   She may make it difficult for you to do things on your own:  you will be told you “need her help” or her company even if you don’t need or want it.  If you tell her to back off and give you some space, she’s likely to take on the Victim role, acting all butt-hurt, maybe even crying. She will guilt-trip you, whining,  “But I was only trying to HELP!” or, “I’m your mother–and you treat me so badly.”    There are male Do-Gooders too, but I think it’s probably more common in females.

Do Gooders also like to act all sanctimonious and self righteous, like the Church Lady in the old Saturday Night Live skits.   She loves to make others feel inferior by devoting the MOST time to a charitable event, the MOST money to a cause, baked the MOST cookies for the school bake sale, and then crow about how much she has done, and how much God favors her because of all her good, unselfish deeds.   If you have failed to meet her standards of saintliness, she will give you a condescending, withering look, making you feel like the worst person on earth.

3. The Victim.

Poor-me

The victim type of narcissist is the opposite of grandiose, but is just as entitled and lacking in empathy.   These are emotional vampires that will suck everything out of you until you’re so exhausted and depressed you just want to go shoot yourself in the head.   The victim gets their supply in the form of sympathy or pity.  She will tell you all her problems and expect you to always be there at her beck and call, no matter how inconvenient this is for you.  She will make demands on you, expecting you to drop everything to listen to her latest crisis and will show no empathy if you have needs that take priority to hers.  In fact she may become angry or try to make you feel guilty, or project her own narcissism onto you and call you selfish.   But the favor won’t be returned:  if you ever have a problem of your own and want a listening ear or shoulder to cry on, she will either ignore you or find a way to turn the conversation back to her.  No matter how much you try to help, they keep making the same mistakes and never seem to grow or change.

These kinds of covert narcissists are especially infuriating because no matter what you suggest, she or he will find an excuse as to why what you suggest would never work.  They are frustrating because they never listen, and never thank you for your time.  They don’t really want your help; they just want your undivided attention and sympathy because it’s their preferred form of narcissistic supply.

My blog is discussed and quoted from extensively in a Youtube video!

I was tooling around on Google and suddenly found myself staring at a link that referenced a blog post of mine I wrote a while ago.  When I clicked it on, it took me to a Youtube channel I’ve never seen before, where this blog and a post I wrote about grandiose and vulnerable narcissists was mentioned and quoted from extensively by the narrator, a lady called “Shrinking Violet.”    It’s a strange but very cool feeling to hear your own blog’s name and your articles talked about by a total stranger on Youtube.

Here is the post that was referenced:

Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissists: How Do They Differ?

It’s also a good video in its own right, packed with useful information about grandiose (overt) and vulnerable (covert) narcissists.   The distinction between them is important, since most people think of all narcissists as being of the grandiose, overt type, which is far from the case.  The covert, vulnerable narcissists are the true wolves in sheep’s clothing. I’m following Shrinking Violet’s channel now.

The narcissist game of “Gotcha!”

gotcha

An earlier post of mine described the 8 mind-games  that narcissists all love to play.   (Please be aware this was actually a reblog of someone else’s post).  One of the more popular games, played by both covert and overt (grandiose) narcissists is “Gotcha!”

“Gotcha!” can be played two different ways, but both have the same devastating effect on the narcissist’s opponent (victim).   Both are intended to bring your mood down as low as it can go and at the same time, reward the narcissist with supply (which you provide with your emotional reaction) which makes them feel better about themselves.

Here are the two versions of “Gotcha!”

Bug.

dead-bug

This game is most popular with overt narcissists because it allows them to exercise their grandiosity and turn it into a handy weapon and suction tube for feeding.

In “Bug,” the victim always goes first.  You start the game by feeling down, depressed, or worthless after some misfortune.    The narcissist is good at faking empathy and love bombs you by spreading that phony sh*t on thick.  Eventually you let your guard down and confide in the narcissist all your woes, misfortunes,  and feelings of dejection.   You tell them your whole life story, feeling like you have found a kind shoulder to cry on.   A patient, empathic person who cares about you and wants to help you.

Not so fast, there!   Your narcissist is already planning their next move, and it has about as much to do with empathy as a Canadian Mountie has to do with a Taliban terrorist.    What is that next move, you ask?   They’re about to pull a bait and switch on you.   The next time you confide in them about losing your home, your spouse, your job, or your mental health, they will callously “share” with you all about the exotic vacation they’re planning to take, the big promotion they just got, or the new romantic partner in their lives.   They will crow about how blessed they are (“blessed” is a favorite term used by narcissists as a subtle envy-generator) and how unfair it is that others aren’t as fortunate as they are (this last is a snide put down, implying that you’re not one of the chosen people that God has chosen to shower his bounty on).

Of course you’re not an envious person, but hearing all about their perfect, blessed life at a time like this when you are suffering is too much.    The narcissist doesn’t care.   In fact, they may actually be lying to you about all those wonderful things.  They want to see you suffering and envious of them, because (1) your suffering provides them with a comparative ego boost (hey, at least they’re not as unfortunate as YOU!)  and (2) your envy inflates their ego even more.   They feed off your pain like a pig rolling in slop.

To them, you are just a bug, not worthy of respect or any real compassion.   Maybe they’ll getcha with some pitying contempt though:  “Oh, I feel so SORRY for you!”   It’s intention is to make you feel shame.  When you’re already down, expect to be stepped on and squished under the heel of the narcissist’s boot until there’s nothing left of you.

Wet Blanket.

wet-blanket

This is a game almost always played by covert narcissists.   The tactics used to win the game are very different than “Bug,” but the end goal is the same:  to make you feel like shit.

As in “Bug,” you (the victim) begin the game.  (Of course you don’t know it’s a game, but that doesn’t matter.)   You think you’ve found a friend in the narcissist because they seem so interested in you.   You just found out some great news–you got that promotion, your book is going to be published, you just found out you’re pregnant after months of trying, you won the lottery.

Naturally the narcissist doesn’t like your good news. To them, it is very bad news, because in their minds, the good fortune of someone else diminishes them.  Life to them is a zero sum game.  There can only be one winner and it has to be them.    For something good to happen to you means it didn’t happen to them which means they hate your guts because you have something which they do not.   It doesn’t even have to be something they want:  the fact you have something good at all is an affront to them.  They must find a way to ruin it for you and in effect, bring you down closer to being as miserable as they are (evening the score).

So after a phony congratulations (maybe), the narcissist becomes a concern troll.  Out of “concern” for you (and always for your own good), he or she just has to “warn” you about the dark  side of your good fortune (and if possible find a way to put you down too, or tell you why it doesn’t count).    So if you got a promotion, you’ll get a speech about how much harder you’ll have to work and how you’ll probably lose all your friends stil in lower positions.  Or you’ll be told why your promotion doesn’t really count because it’s one of those “honorary” titles or it’s really just a “lateral” move.   If your book just got accepted by a publisher, you’ll be told that publisher is a crook or their business is failing and you’ll never see your royalties; if you found out you’re pregnant they’ll tell you all about how horrible pregnancy is and about all the drudgery and loss of freedom you’ll be facing; if you won the lottery, they’ll trot out stories about people whose lives were ruined after winning the lottery or they’ll remind you that “you did nothing to earn it; it’s only chance–I could have won too!”

Of course, after you listen to the narcissist’s “advice,” your heart will feel heavy and your smile might have disappeared.    You might even be gnawing the sides of your fingernails in anxiety over all the things that could go wrong.  Checkmate!  The narcissist won and now he can feed off your new worries too.

A variation of “Wet Blanket” is actually the mirror-image of “Bug.” After you’ve shared your great news, the narcissist brings down your mood by telling you how terrible their own life is and how they never get any breaks at all. The intention is to make you feel guilty for having so much while they have so little.

Whether it’s guilt, shame or envy the narcissist is trying to induce in you doesn’t matter. They just can’t stand to see anyone happy and must take you down to their level or obliterate you like a bug if you’re already down.

The Making of a Psychopathic Narcissist

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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NPD mood cycles can mimic Bipolar disorder.

comedy_tragedy

I remembered something about my NPD ex tonight. He used to have mood swings that seemed in many ways reminiscent of Bipolar disorder. It was only later I realized what they really were–cycles of of grandiose entitlement and dejected self-pity. Whenever supply was abundant–such as when he was promoted at work–he became puffed up with pride and this resulted in an attitude of entitlement and grandiosity which he lorded over his subjects, namely me. He also seemed somewhat manic when he was in one of these grandiose phases.  These were the times he was the most likely to become overtly abusive, both emotionally and physically. Instead of being happy the way a normal person might when thingsa are going well for them, my ex became hostile and prone to pick fights. I learned to dread the times in which good things happened to him, because that was when his narcissism seemed to go into overdrive.

When his supply was running low, he sank into deep depressions, in which he lost all his motivation and energy and spent most of his time staring dejectedly into space or sleeping (or pacing the house frantically at night). His “manic” behavior disappeared and he talked very little when he talked at all. When he did speak, it was to moan endlessly about how terrible his life was and how everyone had it in for him (nothing was ever his fault, and he was still assigning himself Center of the Universe status).  He acted helpless and needy, and wallowed in self pity like a pig in mud. He sometimes threatened suicide (but never attempted it–narcissists generally don’t). As annoying as his depressed moods were, I preferred him that way because he was less overtly abusive (though still abusive in a covert, manipulative way). He acted a lot “crazier” in his depressive states and suffered terrible panic attacks on a regular basis. This actually fits with an NPD diagnosis: when a narcissist isn’t getting any supply and their victims aren’t cooperating, they begin to feel like they don’t exist, and can become very depressed and dissociated. The dissociation can lead to severe panic attacks and even psychotic episodes.

The terms “covert narcissism” and “overt narcissism” aren’t mutually exclusive. A covert narcissist (the depressed, “fragile” type) will usually become more overt (grandiose) when supply is high. A grandiose (overt) type will sink to a more covert form of narcissism when supply is low. The two types of narcissism are really just two halves of the same personality disorder. Grandiose narcissists are thought of as being high achievers, but that may be because since they get more positive supply to begin with, they have more reason to act grandiose.

Before I put two and two together and realized my ex’s bizarre mood swings were in direct proportion to how much praise and recognition from others he was getting, I was sure he had Bipolar disorder. Unlike most narcissists, he did see a psychiatrist (mainly to get meds for his depressions and anxiety; there was little to no desire on his part to improve himself), who actually gave my ex a Bipolar diagnosis.

The most common type of Bipolar disorder is what used to be called Manic Depression. During a manic phase, the patient is likely to be extremely hyper, grandiose, testy, and quick to anger. They have an unrealistic sense of their own invincibility that doesn’t line up with reality. This is very similar to the grandiose phase of someone with NPD.

The covert (depressed) phase of NPD can look extremely similar to the depressive phase of Bipolar disorder. The main difference is, a narcissist will generally not follow through on suicide threats (because they are intended to manipulate and garner sympathy, a form of supply) while someone who is Bipolar is in grave danger of suicide. A bipolar patient can also be helped by medication, while there is no effective medication for NPD (although antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can help with some of the symptoms).

Further reading:

The Relationship Between Narcissism and Bipolar Disorder

The Pool Guy: a story about narcissism (part 1 of 2)

pool-man

Some of you who read this blog are probably aware that from August – December, I self-identified as a covert narcissist.  I won’t get into the reason why here (that’s been explained elsewhere and I don’t wish to go there again), but I was wrong (thank God!).  But during that period of time, I posted on a self-help forum for people with NPD.  Most of the posters believed they were covert narcissists (few of them had an official diagnosis).   I’m not sure most of them were even  narcissists at all, but just thought they were (same as me).   If you’ve been “infected” by narcissists all your life, you can develop a bad case of “fleas” and display narcissistic traits, without actually developing the disorder.   It can be very confusing and it’s fairly common for people with complex PTSD or Borderline Personality Disorder to believe they have NPD. (According to most experts though, if you believe you have NPD, you do not).

That out of the way, one of the “covert narcissists” on the forum in question, who may or may not have been one (I don’t think he was) told the story of how a bigger, badder narc turned him into a source of continual supply and constantly took advantage of and abused him, using every trick in the narcissist’s playbook.   The victimized man, who tells the story, seemed like a codependent type to me.  If he really is a covert narcissist, the story makes sense because when covert and grandiose narcissists appear together, the covert one will nearly always be in the codependent, victim role.

Since the tale he tells is so entertaining and hilarious as written, and because he has an enormous amount of insight and knowledge about NPD (impressive if he actually has the disorder!), I’m just going to quote his ongoing posts about his wealthy neighbor who was feeding off him like a bloodsucking leech, turning him into his “pool guy” and making his life a living hell last summer.

Since the story was told in quite a few posts on the forum and is going to be quite long (and the man is long-winded), I’m going to put this up in at least two posts.

The Pool Guy

pool-guy-1

1.

My neighbor is here preparing his home for sale. He was here almost two years ago and we went to dinner then. He’s narcissistic. Very successful in life. Owned many businesses, bought/sold many properties. Lives on a beach. Very high standards, complains about others. He’s not disordered.

So, this is my first post-awareness experience. I’ve noticed myself catching why it’s comfortable to be with an overt/grandiose narcissist.

1. I notice I get supply from him describing his successes. There’s a definite “trickle down” feeling, like “he’s who I wanted to be, and he recognizes me as a worthy helper. I’m special because he likes me.”

2. We’ve gone to dinner a couple times. With others I would struggle to find things to talk about. It’s work to do it, and I don’t enjoy it. With him, when the awkward silence begins, all I have to do is ask him about one of his restored classic cars and he’ll start talking for 10 minutes.

And then I’m back to #1.

3. He took me to dinner last night. We stopped at a parrot store. (I love parrots. I go to this store occasionally and sit with a bird for an hour. They seem to have the same emotional maturity I do.). I found a friendly macaw and put it on his arm. I took a picture of him with the macaw. He said he would put it on his Facebook, send them to relatives, etc.

Last night I emailed the photos to him and felt kind of manic’y like I the attention he would receive belonged to me.

Summary. It’s very different now. I see what I’m doing as I do it. That halts my mental process which would typically grow to large proportions — and then butt-hurt (narcissistic injury) when reality didn’t keep up with my inner narrative.

[…]Last night I could recognize why I react the way I do (use this synergy for my benefit). I could equate it to the “inner narrative” and choose to consider more realistic thoughts about myself. Which in turn leads me to treat him more like a person than a source of supply. I end up feeling better about myself for dealing with someone realistically.

2.

After spending a fortune and countless hours making his pool a paler shade of green, he informs me today he will leave on Saturday. Furthermore, he instructs, we are going to dinner tonight and Friday night. He’s buying. Anywhere I want.

I thought that was exceptionally nice.

So, we go tonight and, after the waitress places our order, my neighbor begins “asking” if I can keep an eye on his house, nothing big, and he’ll give me a key (which gave me that giddy feeling). All I have to do is walk through every couple days.

Sure! I can do that.

Then I ask, “you’ve got a pool guy, right?” He replies, “No, I thought you could do that. It’s amazingly simple. Of course, I would pay you for your time.” I began looking over my shoulder to see if it was too late to cancel my order. I realized I’d been setup.

Buying me a meal would have worked before I was self-aware. Weeks later I would have raged against myself — while absorbing the cost so I would still be seen as the narcissist’s favorite.

This time I told him I wasn’t comfortable with it. I’m not good with pools. (He knows that’s why I had mine dynamited 20 years ago. The largest ball and chain of my life!). He was disappointed. I was really tempted to give in, thinking I was being needlessly inflexible. But, then I remembered how much blood and treasure he spilled proving he was better than the pool guy — and he expectsme to be better than the pool guy too. So, I stuck to it, repeating I’m not good with pools. I never claimed to be. I’m retarded that way. (There’s a concrete carcass buried in my backyard to prove it.).

He dropped it suddenly and it was no problem. I thought he might brood, letting me know I’m on the “outs.” But, he was fine after that. I felt really good about how I’m able to navigate my old traits. I almost got caught off guard.

Later I realized I could have actually handled it even better. His whole thing is a bitter (and failed) rivalry with the pool guy. I should have cheerfully accepted what he as going to let me do for him. I could then hire a pool guy — charging my neighbor whatever the pool guy charges me. I could have saved him the humiliation!

Today I stepped into something a little by accident. He’s on a quixotic mission to fix a pool problem (in response to the pool guy screwing him). We’re also fixing a block wall and I have a masonry saw, so I cut some blocks for him. I noticed him in his back yard, so I thought I’d take the blocks back their for him.

I saw the pool was getting a greenish tint and just blurted out “oh wow, you’re getting some algae. You didn’t have that a couple days ago when you showed me what was wrong. Is it getting worse?”

Oh no. That was a narcissistic injury to him. I didn’t recognize it immediately. But, I could tell he was strewing about something, throwing more barbs than normal. He finally said something criticizing. I started feeling a narcissistic injury (Omg! He’s borrowing all my stuff! Using my internet! It would be so easy to hold his head underwater right now.). But, only 15 seconds into that feeling I dismissed it, knowing he’s narcissistic. It’s about him, not me. But, a little later I realized I caused it by voicing my thoughts carelessly.

So, it’s been interesting being in what would normally be an inverted relationship, keeping closer tabs on myself. I feel good about it.

poolman3

3.

I had dinner with him last night (Monday night) after not seeing him since early Friday morning helping him fix his fence.

1. He wanted to drive to Mexico for the weekend because the realtor was having “Open House” both days. I gave him a lot of info as if he’d go himself.

I normally would jump on something like that to be the “tour guide.” I would live in his memory, associated with what could only be described as a documentary-quality tour of [whatever]. Why be modest? Epic.

However, more than not being eager to visit the birthplace of diarrhea, I just really needed some space from the narcissism. So, I didn’t volunteer to do anything with him either Sat. or Sun. I gave him the self-directed tour info and played it like he was going. I didn’t ask any questions.

I was reminded of _____’s  thread about feeling awkward saying no. I felt bad because I knew he didn’t go. I knew he had to be out of the house for 8 hours both days. I felt like I wasn’t being a good citizen. I assume he suffered narcissistic injury because he didn’t invite me to go with him wherever he went. I would have probably done one day with him.

But, I decided I’m not responsible for him. I’ve helped him as a neighbor, I’ll continue to go to dinner or show him around town. But, not every day. I shouldn’t have to explain that nor be embarrassed. I treated it like I’m doing the normal thing.

2. We went to dinner last night.

OMG. It was like the “inner dialog” was bottled up. It was non-stop and sounded rehearsed like he’s had the conversation with himself for 3.5 days. I literally could not get a word in edgewise. Every time I tried to say something, he’d interrupt like he knew what I was going to say (so I didn’t need to say it) and proceeded to the rehearsed conversation.

It’s really interesting to see this now with my awareness. Compared to how I would normally get drawn in, reacting to “my kind of language,” I feel detached like watching a tv show. It’s totally different. Not so much analyzing him, but knowing my own reflexive behavior and controlling it (except for last Thursday when I thought I was proving my intelligence by pointing out his pool was getting worse. Ooops.).

4.

In my previous update I described how he dropped the subject abruptly, but wasn’t injured. That threw me off. I thought something wasn’t right.

Last night we went to dinner. He asked me if I could watch the water level “since I’m going to be walking through the house every other day or so. Just top it off with my hose (which remains there).” I said “Sure. But, how often will your pool guy come around. He’ll do that too, right?” He had a puzzled look on his face, like we’d talked about this before, and proceeded to say there won’t be a pool guy. He’s only going to be gone two months and he “just added chemicals today, so it should be ok for that long.”

I’m being put in a position to “just do it.” There’s no way it’s going to be “ok” longer than 3-4 days. When he “flipped” two nights ago, he just didn’t care. I knew I knew that look. :) He already had Plan-B in his mind and that’s what happened.

So, I guess I’ll be informing him in 3-4 days that the chemicals are exhausted. I’ll probably hire a pool guy and charge him like it’s my time. He’ll never know he was affiliated with one of those guys whose entire profession he painted black.

He said he asked the realtor to throw a couple scoops of the magic powder in the pool whenever the realtor shows the house. “So, it should be ok.” I’ll talk to the realtor and see if he has any qualms about this arrangement. Maybe we can conspire together. He probably knows a pool guy. I can pass it along to my neighbor like it’s my time (which he said he’d pay me).

Continued in Part 2:  https://luckyottershaven.com/2016/02/06/the-pool-guy-a-story-about-narcissism-part-2-of-2/

The narcissistic spectrum according to Lucky Otter

Man looking at reflection in mirror

A friend and I were talking about where exactly different levels of narcissism would fall on the N-spectrum. Of course narcissism (or any psychological topic) isn’t an exact science so giving the different levels numerical values seems a little silly, but in my mind this is how I view the different levels on the spectrum, starting with a Baseline of O (on most narcissism spectrums, “healthy” narcissism is at baseline) and the transition to NPD at around 5, which is smack dab in the middle. Narcissism becomes pathological (causing the person or others problems) at around 4.
Please note these are just my own subjective ideas.  I’m a geek who likes to classify things.

The Narcissistic Spectrum according to Lucky Otter

9-10:
Sociopathy:
A person at this level is almost indistinguishable from someone with ASPD (antisocial personality disorder), but an NPD sociopath is more concerned about image or obtaining supply than a pure ASPDer. Most cult leaders fall here. (Psychopathy appears similar to sociopathy in behaviors, but describes a condition that a person is born with instead of one that was acquired; many psychopaths were never abused and were always like that, but sociopaths were made).

8-9:
Malignant Narcissism:
A person at this level has severe NPD with antisocial traits. A person at this level will show more emotion (usually rage) than a narcissistic sociopath. Usually fits all the DSM criteria or most of them.

7-8:
Severe NPD:
Not malignant because there is no sadism present, but person is still highly dangerous and manipulative. Fits most or all of the 9 criteria and symptoms are severe.

narcissist-bird

6-7:
Moderate NPD:
A person at this level may be barely tolerable, if contact with them is casual or seldom. Fits more than 5 of the 9 criteria.

5-6:
Mild NPD:
A person at this level fits 5 of the 9 DSM criteria for NPD but symptoms are not too severe and they may have moments of acting like a decent human being. NPDers at this level may occasionally respond well to therapy or seek it out.

—Pathological—

4-5:
Narcissistic Personality (Destructive Narcissistic Pattern disorder or DNP):
  A person here fits fewer than 5 of the 9 NPD criteria in the DSM but has at least three.  Symptoms may not be that severe and the person at this level is more in touch with their true self and may seek therapy.  They usually have the capacity to feel empathy but it’s limited.

3-4:
Non-Pathological Narcissistic Personality:
Your garden variety self-centered jerk but may genuinely care about those they love.  Not particularly dangerous. Has moments of insight into themselves or empathy for others, especially their loved ones.

0-3:
“Healthy” narcissism.
Most normal people can be found here.

O (Baseline) and lower:
People down in the negative digits might as well be wearing a “KICK ME” sign. They are almost always victims of narcissists and sometimes even normal people give them a hard time or take advantage of them.

npd_spectrum
The simplified spectrum. Psychopathy does not belong here at all.

Covert (“fragile”) narcissists may be found anywhere on the spectrum, but because their narcissism is more hidden and arrogance and grandiosity may be absent, a covert narcissist at any level is harder to identify. They may appear to have BPD, Avoidant PD, or Aspergers Syndrome instead (these are the three disorders most often confused with Covert Narcissism).

High-functioning (successful) narcissists are more likely to be found high on the spectrum, and sociopaths are often extremely high-functioning. There are many sociopaths (and psychopaths, who were generally born with a different brain structure and may not have been abused) in politics, religion, and heading huge corporations. Sociopathic traits and most NPD traits are generally sought after in the higher echelons of business, politics and entertainment. A person with just the “right” combination of antisocial behavior and arrogance, entitlement, grandiosity, and fake confidence can be a devastating adversary or competitor, and they will have no scruples about crushing you into the ground to achieve their goals.

Most high-functioning narcissists tend to be the Grandiose (classic, or overt) type that best fits the DSM criteria.

Covert and overt narcissists all have the same disorder, but for most, one form or the other is dominant. That said, they can and do switch back and forth in the same person. I think temperament is partly to do with whether someone is overt or covert (the more timid or fearful types leaning toward covert narcissism), but I also think circumstances (such as a sudden loss or gain of supply) can cause a switch from overt to covert or vice versa.

Low-functioning narcissists are much more likely to be covert.  They tend to receive less supply than overt narcissists, so their false self is weaker (the “deflated” false self, according to Masterson). Because of their discontent with their lives and general lack of success, covert narcissists are more likely than overt ones to seek help. If a covert narcissist suddenly begins to receive a lot of supply, they can become much more overt-acting (grandiose, entitled and arrogant). If an overt/grandiose narcissist suffers a huge loss of supply, they can sink into depression and become covert (at which point they are more likely to seek help).

“The Narcissist in Chief” (New York Times article)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX1GZCO

The Narcissist in Chief
By Scott O. Lilienfield and Ashley L. Watts, for The Opinion Pages, The New York Times, September 4, 2015

WITH the presidential campaign in full swing, a perennial question has resurfaced: How much weight should voters give to candidates’ personalities? The political rise of Donald J. Trump has drawn attention to one personality trait in particular: narcissism. Although narcissism does not lend itself to a precise definition, most psychologists agree that it comprises self-centeredness, boastfulness, feelings of entitlement and a need for admiration.

We have never met Mr. Trump, let alone examined him, so it would be inappropriate of us to offer a formal assessment of his level of narcissism. And in all fairness, today’s constant media attention makes a sizable ego a virtual job requirement for public office. Still, the Trump phenomenon raises the question of what kinds of leaders narcissists make. Fortunately, a recent body of research has suggested some answers.

In a 2013 article in Psychological Science, we and our colleagues approached this question by studying the 42 United States presidents up to and including George W. Bush. (The primary data were collected before Barack Obama’s presidency.) First we took a data set compiled by the psychologists Steven Rubenzer and Thomas Faschingbauer, who for an earlier study asked experts on each president to complete personality surveys on the subjects of their expertise. Then, using standard formulas from the research literature on personality, we produced estimates of each president’s narcissism level. Finally, we correlated these personality ratings with data from surveys of presidential performance obtained from independent panels of historians.

We found that narcissism, specifically “grandiose narcissism” — an amalgam of flamboyance, immodesty and dominance — was associated with greater overall presidential success. (This relation was small to moderate in magnitude.) The two highest scorers on grandiose narcissism were Lyndon B. Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt, the two lowest James Monroe and Millard Fillmore.

Grandiose narcissism was tied to slightly better crisis management, public persuasiveness and agenda-setting. Presidents with high levels of this trait were also more likely to assume office by winning election in a landslide (55 percent or more of the popular vote) and to initiate new legislation.

Read the rest of this article here.

Here is a bonus quiz on political ideology and your best candidates that was suggested by Linda Lee–it can be taken here: http://www.isidewith.com/political-quiz?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=q_us_hrvd1
I’m 91% Bernie Sanders. 🙂

Yikes! Does this mean I’m a narcissist?

Almost a year ago, I wrote this slightly jocular post after I read an article describing covert narcissism. It was the first time I’d actually read anything about it. Even back then, I recognized the symptoms as fitting me like a glove, but was far away from awareness. This slightly humorous, false self-deprecating attitude was typical of a lot of my posts at the time. I think somewhere deep inside though, I knew.

I can’t believe how different everything seems now.

Lucky Otters Haven

yikes
I just finished reading a Scientific American article that delineates narcissists into two categories: Overt Narcissists and Covert Narcissists:

When most people think of narcissism, they think of the public face of narcissism: extraversion, aggression, self-assuredness, grandiosity, vanity, and the need to be admired by others (see “How to Spot a Narcissist“). But as far back as 1938, Harvard psychologist Henry Murray noticed another breed of narcissist among his undergraduates: the covert narcissist. While the “overt” narcissists tended to be aggressive, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, and have extreme delusions of grandeur and a need for attention, “covert” narcissists were more prone to feelings of neglect or belittlement, hypersensitivity, anxiety, and delusions of persecution [I’ve also seen this referred to as “inverted narcissism,” whatever that means].

Um, I’m prone to feelings of neglect or belittlement, am known to be hypersensitive and anxious, and there are times I believe I’m being persecuted…

But it…

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