5 Types of Narcissism

by Ryan Hart | Updated on October 4, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’ve ever come across someone who is self-absorbed, lacks empathy, and constantly seeks attention, you may have encountered a narcissist.

While most people have some degree of narcissism, it becomes a problem when it becomes extreme and interferes with daily life.

There are different types of narcissism that people can exhibit. Understanding these types can help you identify a narcissist and take steps to protect yourself from their harmful behavior.

In this article, we will explore the five types of narcissism, their causes, and warning signs. We will also discuss narcissistic coping mechanisms and the four phases of a narcissistic relationship.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is a personality trait that is characterized by a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for control. People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) exhibit extreme levels of these traits, which can cause significant problems in their personal and professional relationships.

If you are dealing with a narcissist, it is important to understand that their behavior is not a reflection of you. Narcissists are often unable to regulate their self-esteem without ongoing external validation, which can lead to a variety of problematic behaviors.

Some common behaviors associated with narcissism include:

  • Constantly seeking attention
  • Being self-involved
  • Craving praise and admiration
  • Belittling or devaluing others
  • Being easily offended or insulted
  • Lying or exaggerating to make themselves look better
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Being controlling or manipulative
  • Having a lack of empathy for others

It is important to remember that not all narcissists exhibit the same behaviors. There are different types of narcissism, each with its own set of characteristics. Some of the most common types of narcissism include:

  • Overt (Grandiose) Narcissism
  • Covert (Vulnerable) Narcissism
  • Communal Narcissism
  • Antagonistic Narcissism
  • Malignant Narcissism

What Are The Different Types of Narcissism?

Researchers have identified several types of narcissism, including overt (grandiose), covert (vulnerable), communal, antagonistic, and malignant narcissism. Each type of narcissism is characterized by different behaviors and motivations.

In this section, we will discuss some of the most common types of narcissism.

Grandiose Narcissism

A grandiose narcissist is one who exaggerates his or her self-importance, entitlement, and arrogance. People with this type of narcissism believe that they are superior to others and deserve special treatment. They often lack empathy and may be prone to rage when their needs are unmet.

Vulnerable Narcissism

Vulnerable narcissism is characterized by feelings of shame, anxiety, and insecurity. People with this type of narcissism may be defensive and have a hard time trusting others. They may also be prone to depression and have a heightened sensitivity to criticism.

Communal Narcissism

Communal narcissism is characterized by a desire for admiration and attention through helping others. People with this type of narcissism may have a strong need for connection and may be prone to seeking admiration through their ability to help others.

Malignant Narcissism

Malignant narcissism is a more severe form of narcissism that is characterized by antisocial behavior and sadistic tendencies. People with this type of narcissism may exhibit aggressive and manipulative behavior to gain power and control over others.

Adaptive Narcissism

Adaptive narcissism is a form of narcissism that helps achieve growth and success. People with adaptive narcissism may have a strong sense of self-worth and values that guide their behavior. Maladaptive narcissism, on the other hand, is a form of narcissism that is harmful and can lead to negative outcomes.

Causes of Narcissism

Narcissism is a complex personality trait that can stem from various factors. While no definitive cause of narcissism exists, several factors may contribute to the development of this personality trait. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common causes of narcissism.


The environment you live in has a significant impact on your personality. Children who grow up in an environment where they receive excessive praise and admiration are more likely to develop narcissistic tendencies. In contrast, children who grow up in an environment where they receive constructive criticism and feedback are more likely to develop a healthy self-image.


A parent’s parenting style can also contribute to narcissism. Overindulgent parents who cater to their children’s every need and desire may inadvertently create a sense of entitlement in their children. Children who grow up with authoritarian parents who demand perfection may also develop narcissistic tendencies as a way to cope with the pressure.


Adolescence is a critical period for developing personality traits, including narcissism. During this stage, individuals are trying to establish their identity and sense of self. Adolescents who experience rejection or feel socially isolated may develop narcissistic tendencies as a way to compensate for their perceived shortcomings.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a mental health professional should be consulted for a diagnosis.

Diagnosing NPD can be challenging as it shares some features with other personality disorders. It is also possible to be diagnosed with more than one personality disorder simultaneously, which can make diagnosis more complicated.

NPD is typically assessed by a mental health professional, who will typically conduct a comprehensive evaluation, including a physical exam and psychological assessment. They may also ask about your medical history, family history, and any symptoms you are experiencing.

If you are diagnosed with NPD, treatment options are available. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is often recommended as a first-line treatment for NPD. This type of therapy can help you develop insight into your thoughts and behaviors and learn new ways of relating to others.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is another type of psychotherapy that can effectively treat NPD. Through CBT, negative thought patterns and behaviors are identified and changed. This can help you develop more positive relationships with others and improve your overall quality of life.

Other types of therapy, such as group therapy or family therapy, may also be recommended depending on your individual needs.

Impact of Narcissism on Mental Health

When it comes to mental health, narcissism can have a significant impact on both the individual and those around them. Here are some ways in which narcissism can affect mental health:


Narcissistic individuals often have a fragile sense of self-esteem and may become depressed when they fail to receive the admiration and attention they feel they are entitled to.

Additionally, those who have been on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse may also develop depression as a result of the emotional manipulation and gaslighting they have experienced.


Narcissistic individuals may experience anxiety when they feel their image or reputation is threatened. They may become overly preoccupied with how others perceive them and may go to great lengths to control their image.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

The narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is characterized by an intense sense of self-importance, the need for admiration, and an inability to empathize. Those with NPD are also likely to suffer from antisocial personality disorder, characterized by disdain for other people’s rights and a lack of remorse.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Individuals with narcissistic characteristics can also exhibit borderline personality disorder, a condition characterized by unstable moods, impulsive behavior, and fear of abandonment. Borderline personality disorder can cause difficulty regulating emotions and a sense of self for those with it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental condition that falls under cluster B personality disorders. There are several types of NPD, including grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, communal narcissism, and malignant narcissism. Each type of NPD has its own set of characteristics and behaviors.

What are the characteristics of a covert narcissist?

Covert narcissism, also known as vulnerable narcissism, is characterized by a person who appears shy, sensitive, and introverted but still has a strong sense of entitlement and a need for admiration. They may be passive-aggressive, manipulative, and have a victim mentality. They may also struggle with feelings of inadequacy and shame.

What is antagonistic narcissism?

Antagonistic narcissism, also known as malignant narcissism, is characterized by a person who is highly aggressive, manipulative and lacks empathy. They may have a need for power and control and may engage in behaviors such as gaslighting, lying, and exploiting others for their own gain.

How can you recognize the signs of different types of narcissism?

Recognizing the signs of different types of narcissism can be difficult, as narcissists often hide their true selves behind a façade of charm and charisma. However, some common signs of narcissism include a preoccupation with self, an inflated sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a tendency to exploit others for personal gain.

What are the 4 D’s of narcissism?

The 4 D’s of narcissism are devaluation, discard, denial, and deflection. These are all tactics that narcissists use to protect their fragile egos and maintain their sense of superiority over others.

What is a narcopath?

A narcopath is a term used to describe a person who exhibits both narcissistic and sociopathic traits. They may be manipulative, deceitful, and lack empathy for others. They may also engage in criminal behavior or other forms of antisocial behavior.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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