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Types of Narcissism: What are the Different Types of Narcissism?

Narcissistic personality disorder comes in multiple forms. Here's how to recognize the different types of this personality disorder.

Types of Narcissism: Do You Know the Types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

October 27, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center


It is a fairly common word used to describe someone who tends to show themselves off. We have all encountered such people and thought they were full of themselves. Narcissists are generally characterized by behavior such as an exaggerated sense of self, self-admiration, doing things to seek praise, and being unable to handle the slightest criticism.

It is important to remember that not every narcissist has narcissistic personality disorder. Many people with narcissistic traits have not been medically diagnosed with NPD. 

Narcissism by the Numbers:

Nearly 6.2 percent of the population in the United States of America suffers from NPD.

Types of Narcissism: What is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Let's first define narcissistic personality disorder or NPD. NPD is a personality disorder classified under Cluster A conditions alongside paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorder.

A person with NPD has an exaggerated opinion and perception of oneself. People who are near them consider them arrogant, vain, demanding, and selfish. People with NPD can get easily stressed and disheartened if they are not paid attention. They can easily lose interest in things that are not related to them. They display self-entitled behavior and get disappointed when they are not given more than others.

Such people are difficult to live and work with. Even though a person with NPD does not have difficulty performing day-to-day tasks, personal, professional, and school/college life can be troublesome. 

Types of Narcissism: What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The cause and reason behind most personality disorders are challenging to pinpoint. This is because more in-depth research has to take place. Also, there are multiple reasons behind it. One of the most prominent reasons is childhood neglect and abuse. Individuals with traumatic childhood can develop NPD traits such as a lack of empathy, aggression, and self-esteem issues. Those who grow up neglected and overlooked by their parents can develop the habit of seeking admiration and validation from others. On the flip side, too much pampering and doting parental style can develop NPD tendencies. 

It has been observed that societies with individualistic cultures have a prevalence of NPD as opposed to collective cultures. The individual’s goals and aims build competitiveness and envy. Genetics also contributes to the development of NPD. Parents and close relatives with narcissistic personalities can pass their genes to the younger generation. They can also have a lasting impact on them. 

Types of Narcissism: Common Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms

The individual diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder has various characteristics and symptoms. A few of these symptoms are mentioned below.  

  • Exaggerated self-importance and entitlement.

  • Fragile self-esteem that needs constant admiration.

  • Highly defensive when it comes to criticism

  • The tendency to inflate one's talents and achievements,

  • Expect special favors because of self-entitled behavior.

  • Have recurring thoughts of gaining power and control over others. 

  • Manipulative streak for self-gains.

  • The tendency to exploit others to get whatever they desire.

  • Lack empathy and cannot understand other's feelings. 

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Types of Narcissism: What are the Types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Officially, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) only recognizes the overt form of narcissism. It does not include the several other types of narcissism. Mental health professionals have worked with these types, and there are 5 types of NPD. Some of them are mentioned below. 

Types of Narcissism: Overt or Grandiose Narcissism

Overt narcissism, or grandiose narcissism, is the most common type. This type is recognized officially and is characterized by a sense of superiority and entitlement. They view themselves as special and above others and have an inflated sense of self. They are extremely sensitive to criticism and cannot understand perspectives different than theirs.

Most of the time, their thoughts are occupied by how others see them and create an exaggerated image. 

Types of Narcissism: Covert Narcissism

Also known as vulnerable narcissism, covert NPD is the opposite of overt narcissism. These types of individuals seek the admiration and praise of others while being shy and self-deprecating. They fish for compliments and try to show that they are martyrs. Like overt narcissists, they, too, are sensitive to criticism. They often think that their struggles and challenges are greater than anyone else.

Covert narcissists also struggle with self-esteem and self-worth issues. 

Types of Narcissism: Antagonistic Narcissism

As the name suggests, antagonistic narcissists are very competitive. They are earnest about their rivalries with others and have immense arrogance and pride. They do not want second positions as they want to come on top of everything. They want to control things, so they can be manipulative. People with this NPD can take advantage of others to assert their dominance. 

Types of Narcissism: Malignant Narcissism

This is an extreme form of narcissism where a person can seek pleasure in hurting others. They tend to show their superiority and can turn sadists, too. They are highly egotistical, with severe traits like paranoia, aggression, and no empathy for others. 

Types of Narcissism: Communal Narcissism

Identifying narcissist traits in NPD subtypes like covert narcissism and communal narcissism is difficult. Since they do not have overt characteristics, one may not notice them. However, underneath it all, they desire and crave praise and admiration. All their motivation is channeled toward gaining that.

Many communal narcissists are at the forefront of social causes and are the face of charities. They try to portray themselves as helpful, kind-hearted, caring, and empathetic to others' pain. 

Types of Narcissism: How to Manage a Narcissist & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

NPD is a difficult condition that poses challenges for the person with this condition and those who have to live with it. People with NPD have difficulty regulating their emotions and often spiral out of control. Especially when someone tries to express an opinion different from them or opposite to them, they cannot keep calm.

This makes it hard to maintain relationships in both personal and professional settings. People diagnosed with NPD do not face much trouble in completing daily work and regular tasks. The communication and interaction part gets impaired or difficult to manage by NPD people.  

People living with those diagnosed with NPD can feel confused and frustrated. They might be unable to cope with the rapidly changing moods and behavior. They can get upset due to NPD traits like insistence on controlling things and displaying a sense of entitlement. Many narcissists are engaged in gaslighting their partners and friends.

Such things are dangerous and can become a deal breaker. People in an intimate relationship with an NPD-diagnosed person may feel neglected and overlooked. One of the biggest NPD-related symptoms is disregarding the feelings of others and an inability to understand others' perspectives. 

This puts a strain on any relationship. Individuals living with NPD may feel like they are constantly living on the edge and walking around minefields. This is very draining mentally, emotionally, and even physically. In fact, while dealing with emotional manipulation like gaslighting, one may feel like losing one's mind.

Here's what you can do to protect yourself.

Types of Narcissism: Managing Narcissistic Personality Disorder

First of all, setting up healthy boundaries is essential. You do not want to get stuck in a relationship where your rights are constantly violated. 

Identify if there is a gaslighting pattern in their behavior. Please do not stay silent and speak up about your boundaries and when they are being violated by them. Reach out to others for their opinion and help. Do not remain cut off from family members and friends. Communicate your difficulties with others so they know about your situation and health.

While communicating with a person with NPD, the following steps can be taken:

  • Do not lose your temper, and interact in a calm tone.

  • Try not to make them resort to defensive tactics. So avoid directly accusing them of things.

  • Always convey your thoughts and feelings by directly addressing yourself as 'I'.

  • Do not respond, engage, or communicate when an NPD person is triggered. Be as uninteresting as possible. 

Types of Narcissism: Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment & Recovery

There is a lot of ambiguity around treating personality disorders like NPD or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, etc. There are also speculations that mental health conditions like this cannot be treated fully. All such claims are false. Yes, personality disorders are indeed hard to overcome. This is because altering or hanging anyone's personality is not easy.

When a person grows up with a specific type of personality, their patterns of thoughts, behavior, and actions are rigid and inflexible. It takes a lot of effort, determination, and patience to overcome the negative traits of a personality disorder. 

It is fortunate for people struggling with NPD to have various treatment options. These treatments are very helpful in managing the characteristic traits of this personality disorder. The treatment for NPD is highly dependent on the individual condition.

It can take a lot more time if a person has severe symptoms, while mild symptoms are easier to deal with. Psychotherapies are highly effective when dealing with NPD people. These therapies assist the patients in dealing with overcoming reluctance to the treatment and identify the underlying problems and causes of symptoms. 

These therapies also inform the patient about how their behavior and attitude impact and hurt others. It lets them examine the old, painful memories contributing to this condition.

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Types of Therapy

Therapies help patients replace self-centered, superior, and grandiose thinking with realism. New thinking and behavioral patterns are developed and explored to improve the condition.

Some of these psychotherapies include: 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT

DBT is a type of therapy that helps NPD patients control emotions, improve relationship and interpersonal skills, cope with daily life stressors, and enhance mindfulness. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Patients replace old, rigid patterns with positive and healthy habits in CBT. 

Gestalt Therapy

This is different from others as gestalt therapy focuses on the present. They don't let patients dwell in the past and emphasize how their actions impact them and the people around them. 

Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT)

MBT is a therapy that improves the ability of the patient to understand their own behavior. The patients reflect on their own thoughts, emotions, behavior, and actions. They learn to connect emotions with their own actions and behavior. 

Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP)

In TFP, therapists ask patients to transfer emotions related to someone else onto them. It simplifies the process of understanding other's behavior. 

Schema Therapy

It is a unique form of therapy that combines the features of CBT and talk therapy. It helps in identifying and bringing unhealthy coping mechanisms to the surface. 

Why Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder is So Important

A narcissistic personality disorder is a psychiatric condition that affects how a person thinks and processes things. One of its common traits is to seek admiration and praise and believe they deserve special treatment. Unfortunately, suppose things do not go their way. In that case, they become extremely depressed and disheartened and can take the dangerous step of taking alcohol or drugs.

It is not uncommon for people with alcohol or drug problems to have narcissistic personality disorder. Even when they are not formally diagnosed, they have traits and characteristics of NPD. The combination of narcissistic personality disorder and addiction conditions is highly problematic. People with NPD have a start of superiority and believe they can handle addiction better than others. This is one of the reasons how quickly they get stuck in the addiction cycle. 

The Forge Recovery Center: Evidence-Based Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

If you or someone you care about are struggling with such conditions, it is best to seek professional treatment. The Forge Recovery Center is a fully accredited facility that aims to assist people in overcoming mental disorders, dual diagnosis, and drug and alcohol addiction. Our expert medical team consists of highly professional staff and addiction experts, providing patients with the best rehabilitation programs and emotional support.

Reach out today to The Forge Recovery Center today to learn more about our evidence-based care for narcissistic personality disorder and more.

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