Types of Narcissists & Malignant Self-Love
Not all narcissists, or forms of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), are the same. Researchers have now come to various different conclusions regarding the disorder. Additionally, malignant self-love/narcissism is something that is widely misunderstood and misperceived in society—unless you have the misfortune to experience narcissistic abuse first-hand.
Many sources of information claim that there are two main types of malignant narcissism, cerebral and somatic. Whilst many narcissists are usually either one or the other, some narcissists also display both cerebral and somatic characteristics. Additionally, there are also many various subtypes of NPD, and as times goes on, more and more information is being unveiled on the subject.
James F. Masterson proposed just two categories for pathological narcissism, exhibitionist (overt) and closet (covert/stealth), whereas Theodore Millon identified five variations of narcissist:
These are certainly not the only types of NPD/malignant narcissism that have been identified. Additionally, the term Acquired Situational Narcissism (ASN) has now been coined by professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, Robert B. Millman.
Despite extensive recent research and literature on the topic, NPD remains a highly controversial subject which is still open to much debate and there are currently two schools of thought on the causes of malignant narcissism.
Recent research shows that studies on sets of twins shows that those who had high levels of narcissistic traits also had twins that showed high levels of narcissistic traits and therefore they assume that the research shows a genetic link. However, if environment, nurturing and upbringing contributes to the development of the disorder then it's also reasonable to believe that each twin, in any given set of twins, would have developed narcissistic traits due to their upbringing having came from the same family.
There is therefore no real basis on which to assume that malignant narcissism must be a result of genetics, as claimed, according to the study. Their false positive result comes from confirmation bias. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a genetic component which contributes towards NPD.
Subtypes Of Narcissism
The Classic/Overt Narcissist
The classic/overt narcissist is an egomaniac and a control freak. Classic narcissists expect you to adhere to their wishes, even if they go against your morals. Confront them and they will most likely fly into a narcissistic rage.
Given their lack of empathy the victim must do whatever is required to uphold the narcissist's false self or the victim will be made to face the narcissist's wrath... and this can be dangerous.
The Inverted Narcissist
Although the inverted narcissist has grandiose fantasies and in many cases is often talented, these fantasies are rarely showcased in overt behaviour because the inverted narcissist is so full of self-doubt. They feel incapable and inadequate which then places limitations on their abilities and so they never go on to achieve what they are truly capable of in life.
The inverted narcissist is co-dependent and so they seek out a relationship with a classic narcissist, someone who they can become dependent upon and someone who can control ("look after") them. The inverted narcissist would rather pass all responsibility on to their classic narcissist partner.
The Cerebral Narcissist
The cerebral narcissist sees their self as being more intelligent and knowledgeable than anyone else, on any subject and they use their intelligence to attain narcissistic supply. They are always right, even when they are wrong and they hate it when they are wrong. For this reason, they are always right, even when they know you know they are wrong.
The cerebral narcissist always has a story to tell about any topic mentioned and often interrupts the conversation to shift the focus of attention on to their self. They offer the best advice available in their opinion, even better than the experts, and they believe you are a fool if you do not follow their advice, no matter how distorted their world-view is.
The Somatic Narcissist
Whereas the cerebral narcissist uses their intelligence to attain narcissistic supply, instead the somatic narcissist uses their body and so, if the are female, they become a nymphomaniac. If male, they become a satyr.
The somatic narcissist has a consistent supply of multiple sexual partners, sometimes of the same gender and sometimes simultaneously. Such behaviour for a somatic narcissist is as normal as having a cup of tea.
The Covert/Stealth/Closet Narcissist
The covert or stealth narcissist is the most dangerous of all forms of the personality disorder. Covert narcissists work behind the scenes, off the radar of perception. They are faceless and under cover. Covert (malignant) narcissism is known to be more common in females than it is in males. Stealth narcissists often use gaslighting and hypnotic communication techniques to convince their victim they are going crazy.
Covert narcissists suck their victims into their lives and wait for a cue that their victim has become emotionally attached to them. Once this has been established, the covert narcissist then destroys the victim's identity and resorts to emotional blackmail and mental abuse to manipulate and control the victim.
The covert narcissist usually has many secret one-night-stands leading to secret affairs (sometimes within the family) over the years and destroys the victim's reputation outside of their awareness, by spreading truths mixed with malicious lies.
The Elite Narcissist
Elite narcissists are usually highly successful people who are more concerned with material assets, money, wealth and power, rather than true emotion. However, the elite narcissist is not just a rich powerful business man or woman, they often use deceptive tactics and walk over other people to get what they want.
They may have also developed a legitimate business as a cover for the dodgy dealings that happen behind the scenes which is where they are truly making their money. The elite narcissist is not just a charlatan who has used deceptive means to get what they want, they are building an entire false self (long-term) based on their deception and even their nearest and dearest may perceive them as a good genuine person.
Threaten their perceived false self and you will likely be eliminated with no empathy.
The Narcissistic Psychopath
Brian Blackwell has been described as a narcissistic psychopath. Blackwell was diagnosed with NPD after his parents confronted him about fraudulently applying for thirteen credit cards in his father's name (to uphold the false self he had been portraying to his girlfriend, who was a professional tennis player).
To protect his false self, Blackwell killed both his parents with a claw hammer and stabbed his mother approximately thirty times before setting off on holiday with his girlfriend for two weeks. He then went on to spend £30,000 of his father's money on a three-night stay at the Plaza Hotel with his girlfriend, while his parents' bodies remained in the house.
Blackwell's court case was the first court case to ever use the diagnosis of NPD as mitigating circumstances. The charge of murder was dropped to manslaughter, though he still faces life in prison.
Evolution Of Narcissism
Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, is one of the only people who has attributed narcissism to the selfish gene, as proposed in Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. However, it seems that the concept of the selfish gene has been misperceived.
The word "selfish" in the term selfish gene does not relate to self-centeredness or selfishness but is labelled "selfish" because it is the only gene which mutates prior to replication - hence "the selfish gene" is the gene responsible for all evolution of life on Earth.
Rather interestingly, the Bible states that a malignancy of narcissism will be abundant when we are in the endtimes (and also offers some good advice):
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
In evolutionary psychology, narcissism relates to assortative mating which is the process of choosing a non-random person for the purpose of procreating. Healthy levels of narcissism therefore help us to choose a suitable mate with similar genetic characteristics enhancing the likelihood of stable reproduction.
We subconsciously choose someone who mirrors ourself; therefore, it makes sense that incest exists in some families where there is a malignancy of narcissism. Additionally, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) shows us how we subconsciously mirror other people's body language to give them signals that we are alike (building rapport). This is why so many couples tend to look and act similarly to each other.
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