All You Should Know about a Covert Narcissist

Consider what is important to you, what your values are, and work to create boundaries to support them. Narcissists want you to take it personally because that is how they maintain leverage. Remember, a narcissist feels small, so they have to make themselves “big” somehow. A narcissist behaves in negative ways because of something unhealthy within them—not because there is something unhealthy about you.

covert narcissism and alcoholism

Narcissists have a hard time responding to criticism, even when they’re in the wrong. But while an overt narcissist might come off as combative, a covert narcissist will be defensive. They find it difficult to put energy into anything that doesn’t serve them in some way. A covert narcissist might present themselves in a way that looks like they are giving, but their giving behavior always has the intent of getting something in return. The covert narcissist certainly craves importance, or narcissistic supply, and thirsts for admiration but it can look different to those around them. They might give back-handed compliments, or purposefully minimize their accomplishments or talents so that people will offer them reassurance of how talented they are.

Narcissism and Alcohol Problem Recognition, Expectancies, and Evaluations

A covert narcissist is someone who craves admiration and importance, lacking empathy toward others but may act in a different way than an overt narcissist. They may exhibit symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) but often hide the more obvious signs of the condition. While it can be more difficult to recognize, covert narcissism can be just as destructive as more overt narcissistic behaviors. Yes, people with narcissistic personality disorders can have obsessive, unhealthy relationships with other people, as well as develop process addictions like overspending or gambling. However, with professional mental health and addiction treatment, many people can learn to manage their mental health symptoms and overcome their addiction.

The covert narcissist will find it easier to willingly portray their ‘weaknesses’ or ‘vulnerabilities’ than the overt narcissist. They will therefore happily relay stories of how they have been victimised, treated poorly by others, misunderstood and explain how hard done by they are and how it’s everybody else fault. Again, this is all with the end goal of manipulating and controlling in order to receive the attention, affection and sympathies they so desperately covert narcissism and alcoholism need for their fragile ego state. Many narcissists are active addicts and this is something that is usually fairly easy to spot. A key feature in this issue is a difficulty in sitting with uneasy emotions such as anxiety, neutrality, boredom or shame – this can fuel addiction. Active addiction is also arguably selfish and self-seeking in nature and manipulation and lies are often a part of supporting the gaining and use of whatever the drug of choice is.

All You Should Know about a Covert Narcissist

A doctor can offer help and treatment to those dealing with addiction, which may involve suggesting lifestyle changes or rehabilitation clinics. Both grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism show a strong link to substance use disorders. A 2019 article in Frontiers in Psychiatry looks at the relationship between the problematic use of substances and narcissism, concluding that self-esteem plays a major role. As a result, these individuals require others to affirm their importance and value. Once they receive this affirmation, they experience grandiosity and may behave in an arrogant and entitled way.

Although covert narcissists avoid the spotlight and prefer passive-aggressive means of controlling others, this is not necessarily because they are introverted as is often stated. Rather, they lack the brash confidence of overt narcissists and fear being exposed and humiliated if they draw public attention to themselves. Often this is because they have been conditioned not to compete with a domineering overt narcissist parent.

What Are Signs of a Covert Narcissist?

People with covert narcissism may not outwardly discuss these feelings of envy, but they might express bitterness or resentment when they don’t get what they believe they deserve. People with covert narcissism may also avoid social situations or relationships that lack clear benefits. Covert Narcissists share the same core pathology as the more obvious overt narcissist however the covert types are usually more willing to show their ‘vulnerability’. However, please note, that in line with the manipulative and self-seeking actions of any narcissist, this will be with the aim of serving their own needs and gains. They can come across as sweet and innocent, softly spoken, caring, sensitive, shy, complimentary and/or helpful. They may also appear open about their vulnerabilities – however, unlike most people, this is ultimately with an aim of control and manipulation.

  • Lacking the aggressiveness of the exhibitionistic narcissist, they’re more prone to depression and feelings of emptiness or like things are falling apart.
  • However, their outward nature is deceitful as covert narcissists often feel envious of others, are profoundly sensitive to even the slightest criticism, and lack compassion and empathy for other people.
  • Extroverted narcissists sometimes also act covertly, pout, and play the victim in order to manipulate.

Alcohol use disorder is a type of substance abuse disorder where a person cannot control or stop their alcohol use. However, NPD includes other traits, such as needing constant praise and special treatment, reacting negatively to criticism, and manipulating others. People with NPD might be unwilling or unable to recognize others’ feelings and needs.

What Is Covert Narcissism?

There’s no way you can fill their emptiness or change their victim mentality. The narcissist lacks empathy for you, won’t see you as a separate individual, and will do what’s necessary to maintain power and control. Their pain and needs will always take precedence, so you’re left feeling alone and neglected. Psychoanalyst James Masterson first identified the “Closet Narcissist”—someone deflated, with an inadequate self-perception.

The covert narcissists (also called the vulnerable narcissists), however, have similar qualities to those of the overt types yet act quite differently, making it all the more confusing to identify. Similar to narcissists, covert narcissists also have a narcissistic personality disorder. Reaching out to a mental health professional can be a helpful first step toward healing from covert narcissistic abuse. Not everyone with a narcissistic personality engages in abusive behaviors.