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How to Spot a Covert Narcissist

Marc Hubs is a writer/researcher on mind, science, and conspiracy. He is the author of "Know Your Enemy: Reflections of NPD."

Characteristics of a narcissist

Characteristics of a narcissist

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by complete and utter self-centeredness combined with outright denial. NPD forms an invisible and virtually indestructible psychological barrier which prevents the afflicted person's true inner turmoil from surfacing.

Covert Narcissism

Undeniably the most damaging, daunting and severe form of NPD that exists is covert narcissism, otherwise known as closet or stealth narcissism. Covert narcissists are highly defensive and extremely hostile individuals who go to great lengths to hide their insecurity and emotional vulnerability.

Although a typical covert narcissist generally possesses the same traits as an overt narcissist (the need for attention, approval, adulation and grandiose fantasies), these traits are not regularly expressed. Due to the ability to repress their behavior, covert narcissists are more difficult to recognize. For some people, it can be several decades before they recognize the narcissist in their lives.

Classical Symptoms of Covert Narcissism

In addition to the standard symptoms of NPD, the covert narcissist is also susceptible to stress and worry. They have a tendency to function inefficiently (i.e., they are dysfunctional) whilst their inner expectations and desires remain unfulfilled.

Covert narcissists repress awareness of their traits due to inner conflict. They find their fantasies to be embarrassing or unacceptable and are usually too afraid to exhibit any of their accomplishments to others. Although their overt behavior projects an innocent, good-as-gold persona which builds them a credible and faultless reputation, they fail to reach their true potential due to self-doubt. Some covert narcissists end up losing all interest in their hobbies and desires and end up deciding to do nothing with their lives, yet they are extremely self-entitled and expect other people to do all the running around for them.

Why Is Covert Narcissism So Detrimental?

The most damaging aspect of covert narcissism is the controlling and manipulative behavior that the individual imposes on the people closest to them. If in a relationship, the narcissist's partner often bears the brunt of the manipulation (though this is not always the case) as family, friends and children, too, will suffer from a lack of empathy.

A female covert narcissist may have children with their partner in order to secure them as nothing more than a resource by inadequately using or intentionally damaging contraception or by committing paternity fraud. A male covert narcissist may try to control their partner in the same way by purposely not using or damaging contraception and exploiting the emotional bond between mother and child.

Isolation of the Victim

In a typical case, the only person who realizes that there is a problem is the person who is closest to the covert narcissist. These individuals are often unwillingly forced to suffer covert narcissistic abuse (very subtle emotional blackmail, mental abuse and psychological manipulation). Narcissists end up obscuring the truth and twisting literally every little detail back at the victim; they expertly mix the truth with a lie in order to distort the truth in their favor. This abuse is so well-hidden within the communication dynamics of the relationship that the victim often doesn't pick up on it and is left scratching their head wondering, "Is it me?"

When a victim of this type of abuse begins to develop an awareness of the manipulation, it gradually dawns on them that they have already been alienated from those that they would turn to for support.

The covert narcissist makes their victim feel like they are the one with the problem whilst projecting a flawless character to everyone around them. By destroying the victim's reputation and making them look bad, the narcissist protects a deluded false sense of self. Narcissists have no empathy and, therefore, have an invisible secret and an advantage as they often obtain the trust, respect and belief of everyone around them while the victim must suffer alone. No one around the victim can see what the deceitful, deceptive, manipulative and controlling covert narcissist is really up to.

Covert narcissists use cleverly hidden emotional blackmail, mental abuse, suggestive techniques and manipulative linguistic patterns to force their partner to question their own sanity. The narcissist is immune from labeling and blame because they have everybody around them fooled, thanks to their pathological tendencies. Meanwhile, they continue to drain the psyche and soul of their victim, who, over time, becomes depressed, loses self-esteem and feels like their soul is being worn down. Eventually, the victim becomes devoid of emotion. If the victim happens to discover the truth, it will always be denied.

Reflection and Projection Tactics of the Narcissist

When arguing with a covert narcissist, a victim will usually be left at a dead end as they are often outwitted. If the challenger is a significant other, then the narcissist will go on to state how they "saved" their partner by taking them under their wing. The victim will feel like they are forever in debt and that anything bad that has happened was imagined.

Covert narcissists are the sort of people who have multiple partners, secret affairs (sometimes within their own family) or sometimes even an entirely secret life with someone else. They recruit friends and family who are fooled by the innocent persona they project to defend their false self by convincing others of paranoia or suspicion. The narcissist often uses special occasions such as Valentine's Day or their partner's absence due to a funeral, for example, as an opportunity to get away with their infidelity (times when the victim least expects it).

When a narcissist's deceit has been discovered, every little detail gets twisted back onto the true victim. The victim is then the one being accused of the abuse, lies and/or cheating. This is a defense mechanism which lacks logic and merely works to uphold the pathological self.

Narcissists come up with one-line defense mechanisms rather than offering any logical explanation for their behavior. Here are some examples of mock deflective statements:

  • "It's all in your head."
  • "You're paranoid."
  • "That didn't happen."
  • "I think you need to see a doctor."
  • "I don't know what you're talking about."
  • "I never said that."

On certain occasions (in private), the narcissist may give their partner an ultimatum. They make it clear that everything is about them whilst their partner's feelings, needs, wants, and desires are completely disregarded. They will discard their partner in the process with no empathy whatsoever, heartlessly and sadistically. However, covert narcissists are usually nowhere near as sadistic as malignant narcissists, who tend to have a very nasty sadistic streak.

Narcissistic Tendencies Towards Denial

Anyone who knows about a covert narcissist's secret life is sure to be blackmailed or manipulated into keeping quiet. Even when a narcissist does slip up, they may claim that they have a communication problem. The narcissist will deny their secrets until the day they die, even if they've already been discovered—they will attempt to make others question the evidence.

It's also important to understand that a covert narcissist also suffers. Although on some level, they are aware of some of their abuse, mind-games and manipulation, their tendencies are pathological. Narcissists still know the difference between right and wrong and good and evil, but deep down inside, they just simply don't care.

A covert narcissist may understand that they have a problem but don't care and are unwilling to do anything about it, even if that means losing the people closest to them. Again, this is usually an intermittent behaviour. Narcissists have no empathy but seem to go through intermittent (but rare) phases of self-reflection and self-acknowledgement. These phases are also short-lived.

Narcissistic Abuse

Covert narcissists can be extremely flirtatious if in a party setting, though they often use occasional shock tactics whilst any further promiscuity is kept under cover. They may strategically pretend that they were too drunk to have been in control and conscious of their acts or blame their behavior on the alcohol while making further arrangements in private regarding sexual endeavors and love affairs.

A covert narcissist attempts to secure their primary resource (their partner) early on in a relationship. They ultimately suck up all the finances within the relationship, cut off their partner's contact with family and friends and damage or lose their partner's official forms of identification, claiming it was an accident. Withholding resources makes it impossible for the victim to leave.

Narcissistic ideology shines clearly through such a relationship with the partner because they are often the only person that recognizes the problem. When attempting to seek help, family and friends often accuse the victim of twisting everything around. It's a double-blind consisting of nothing more than projection and reflection.

Covert narcissists attempt to brainwash their victims by convincing them that their observations of abusive behavior are delusional and attributed to mental health problems. Of course, the narcissist has already built their army of support, forcing the victim to repeatedly keep questioning their own sanity.

Narcissist Victim Syndrome

Ultimately, victims of long-term covert narcissistic abuse can experience severe health symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder. They experience nightmares and flashbacks whilst their mind is subconsciously piecing the parts of the puzzle and abuse together. This is the brain's way of healing itself, and, in extreme cases, it can be decades before this realization happens.

When this happens, the victim may begin to figure out what has been occurring over the years (or decades), though they usually still have to suffer the consequences of the abuse alone. Oftentimes, the victim's life falls apart, but they are still believed to be the problem by friends and family.

In extreme cases, the victim may have even been left with physical health symptoms such as a heart murmur or an anxiety disorder. Stress-related illnesses resulting from extreme narcissistic abuse can sometimes result in the death of the victim (i.e. heart attack). Stress can be dangerous.

When a narcissist can see that their victim is tired, worn down, and in a weak, vulnerable state, then they know the victim is exactly where they want them. It offers a chance for more emotional and mental abuse to be perpetrated, and the narcissist will inevitably kick their victim while they're down.

Narcissistic abuse feels cruel, cold, calculated and extremely twisted for the victim. The most significant concern of this personality disorder is that victims of abuse can be twice as likely to suffer from stress-related medical problems including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, heart attacks and stroke. NPD is not something to be taken lightly and can sometimes result in what I refer to as psychological murder.

The author of this article was a victim of narcissistic mind control for over ten years and aims to create awareness of NPD and to dispel many of the myths and misconceptions about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 Marc Hubs


William Ansley on December 17, 2019:

Mist excellent analysis !!!

Derek on October 13, 2019:

Thanks for this fantastic article, from one who has lived these horrors, this details my exact experience as close as I have ever read. As I understand myself I was raised by a covert narc and therefore programmed to become the tool of an assortment of covert narcs in my personal and professional life until I solved the puzzle a little over five years ago. Nothing stated here is an overstatement about what these people do, their intentions, or what they are capable of. I remember one of these CNs telling me after she shared this horrible story of mind**king a younger sibling - I told her what she did was disgusting - her response to that was a sly grin and "at least I'm okay with my behaviour". I am an atheist but if there is a hell, these people have absolutely earned an eternity or two of torture there. You simply can't get far enough away from these people once you see them for what they really are: disgusting, unredeemable lower life forms not worthy of your time or attention. For fellow victims, it is very important for you to acknowledge, respect and honour your anger feelings as they are the way your self is trying to tell you what was done to you was horribly wrong. If you are surrounded by toxic people they no doubt will judge and shame you for your anger like they did to me so be very careful who you involve to help sort these issues out for you (I, like many others, involved the wrong people and paid the price.) Also be very cautious about people trying to talk you in a "forgiveness' direction especially as narcs will try to self servingly manipulate you in this direction anyways so they can maintain their belief about you as a lesser than who deserves their derision. The opposite is true, of course, but they will die before they admit the truth. If you have been victimized by narcs / covert narcs and are the forgiving type (many of us are overly so), google an article by Dr Jonice Webb about forgiveness and when it is inappropriate, and read it before you decide what to do. I wish I read it years before I did. I felt pushed into it by religious types and by people who simply had no interest in dealing with my feelings and/or people who just wanted me to shut up and go away. We should not be listening to these types of people as they do not speak with our best interests in mind. She affirms that true forgiveness can only be achieved when the abuser fully admits their wrongdoing and forgiving these people without them being held to account is fundamentally a betrayal of self. She speaks on exactly how we should respond in these cases - by focusing on supporting ourselves and finding others who support us exactly as we are and exactly as we have experienced.

Jennifer Lowry on December 10, 2018:

Trying to teach communication and safety to my two teen daughters as his behavior has tripled unto the kids since we are in midst of divorce. I was already subconsciously separating friends etc... 2 years ago. I’d like to expose him publicly but fear he would kill me or my children.

Wes Walter on July 25, 2018:

Excellent writing as always Sparkster. Keep up the good work exposing these demonic creatures!

Maria Setiabudi on July 24, 2018:

This exactly amazing accurate to describe covert narcissism. I’ve been there and done that lived with that kind of person. I just wish till I die that God will destroy these evil souls.

Georgiagirl18 on March 08, 2018:

I have only just found some of your articles in these past few moments, and they have been spot on. Now I've been married for 23yrs, dated for 7 before hand- the whole dated in HS, then through college. Then got married a year and a half after college. Dating was great, he was kind and sweet. Even the first several years seemed alright when I look back. - as I'm only VERY recently reevaluating EVERYTHING that has gone on in my marriage because about 2 years ago I found out about some lies regarding finances. Him not really making $, so to cover that he took out a loan &ccard in MY name, he also had completed raided a savings account that was in MY NAME ONLY! When I was still sleeping he'd go in my wallet, take my debit card and transfer $ to the checking account on days he was supposed to get paid! He also set up direct withdrawal out of that account to pay bills. He didn't have access bc went through an issue 12yrs before where it was very severe due to lies & deceit & I felt safer keeping this just in my name. Told the bank not send statements bc I knew temptation would be there and we weren't using this $.I never knew. statements were sent, he took them out of the mail & hid them from me. I thought we have 2 kids that will be going to college, it was a start. Instead of getting a second job, or a new job he just took the $. It was never $ he earned, it was gifted by my father. I have a terrible back from an injury at work 20yrs ago that just got worse over time despite several surgeries. Needless to say, workers comp send me 2 minimal checks a month- a fraction of what I was making 20yrs ago(no cost of living increase. He has even taken those out of the mail, forged my name and put them in the bank- as if I'm not capable- not to mention it is illegal!! I do take some medicine for my back, wish I didn't have to. I have a tendency to not take it at specific intervals during the day but when all of a sudden, my back is dying and I look at the clock and I'll say something like"whoa, I should have taken that 2 hours ago, no wonder I've been hurting" he gets on me about taking it more often. Then other night I'm laughing with my kids, tears coming down laughing and he comments " how much medication are you on tonight." And I turned and told him Fuck you, don't ever do that. Why such a reaction? The night before, I was talking with my daughter and she was telling me how when she was in middle school, her father would always talk to her about me...?? why I said. She said that he told us you were always on medicine and if you weren't happy it was because of the medicine. Then he even got her to believe (& my mom/dad who do not live near us) that he picked her up every day after school (my mother thought it was the morning as well). So in my conversation to my daughter, it struck me so sad, I cleared up the "drug thing" with her (more of that to follow.) Then I had her sit and think about getting picked up from school, running to the car with the friend we car pooled with, were was the car always parked, was there ever a stop anywhere sometimes on the way home, what about music in the car, stuff like that.She then looks at me and says, he messed with my memories! You always picked us up and a couple times a week you took us for ice cream after school! She was stunned. She looked so confused and asked my, why did I ever think it was always dad? Because that's what he wanted you to believe.. He did pick you guys up on a very rare occasion. But to him his parents. My parents, friends, it sounds better for him if he's picking up- combine that with the drug comments, I sound like I was not capable of driving a car! The fact of the matter is he lies about EVERYTHING!! It could be something innocuous that you would wonder what would even be the point, then there's everything else from saying someone asked him to step up and fill a volunteer position and create an entire story around him being asked- when I already knew the truth, he volunteered. Anything to make himself sound better, important, needed, wanted. There was an incident 2 1/2yrs ago where my daughter alerted me to him and my clearly narc younger sister talking outside. She went on to slam me literally almost exactly like one of these article says and every bit was a bold faced lie. I went on the balcony to tell them to stop, once I heard them, I stood directly over them in full view & they spoke very loudly and very familiarly about the subject of me- that I don't love my dad, don't care about my mom, not a good mother (she's never been in an adult relationship at 36yrs old), the doozie was...I'm a drug addict, because I broke my back 20yrs ago ,I should be over it already. It's not like I lost a limb or have cancer. All the while my husband sat there, never once disagreeing with her. There was so much more said, but she ended the conversation by saying, she's dead to me..My husband like a coward saw my face as I was consoling my kids because my daughter, unbeknown to me at the time, had gone out on the balcony also but stayed back so I wouldn't see her, and heard it all. What ended up is NOBODY, NOT MY MOM OR DAD believed my sister said those things. My other sister & BIL texted my husband the next day that they were there for him if he needed anything they were rooting for him. I thought my head was spinning! Those two sat & said the worst possible things about me and no one believes me and my other sister is rooting for him? Clearly I have missed some major goings on...but at that moment, I was concerned with my parents understanding that I have never lied to them and would not lie to them and hat them questioning me on this, when I was clearly so distraught was heartbreaking, was both my parents when this happened, my husband drove home at 1am without telling anyone. My mother questioned my sister, she lied, said my husband and I got in a fight & he left- how did she know he had left when my mom spoke to her in the morning. Trying to get their stories straight. My sister lied to everyone, said nope, I was just crazy, must be the drugs. I didn't want to bring her into it, but I tell my mother, my daughter was on the balcony & I didn't know, but they were so loud the houses on either side could have heard, so she heard it all. Ask her again and tell her do not trie to discredit my daughter the way she's doing to me don't mess with my kids! Well my sister said she said all of it, finally. It literally took me begging my mom almost daily for 4mnths to get her to say that what my sister did was wrong & still doesn't ever want to say it yet says she said it right away, & another sister reminds her that she didn't. In the mean time, my husband, he took part in the whole conversation, made up little lies, things like he offered to pick something up and then he was saying I was too lazy I couldn't get off my ass to pick it up myself. So my own home became tense, that $ issue was 7 months before this. If anything came up, my husband was happy to bash what my sister did, and I'd look at him bewildered, what about you? The conversation never would have happened if you'd had a backbone and stood up and walked away instead of partaking in bashing me. My eyes are open, I'm figuring how to get out, I've uncovered many more lies. I can't imagine what I'll never know. He continues to try to twist words/thoughts of me and the kids & push the drug comments, that I thought solely came from my sister, I believe he had a big part. Those two and 1 other sister talked about me,about 8x that he cops to. There is absolutely no drug abuse, however he is a big bing drinker and have been trying to get him to stop that for many years. Until my daughter was about 13, she thought drinking=blacking out nice! There's the constant need for a "job well done"on doing kids chores! My kids are better than that. When drunk or confronted about a lie, he is ugly. Neighbors think he's the greatest. Trying to confide in 1/2 friends. Did kick him out for a bit due to the never ending lies, which was lovely & peaceful. Came back without asking & nowhere to go -how abt his parents, their " golden child" as they always called him.

Mitch Free1 on January 30, 2018:

I believe, my ex-wife is BPD/CNPD. I'm not a health professional, but the symptoms described for both PD's fit her very well --with a few exceptions: she does not rage, is good with money, not a risk taker and a few others. We dated for four years, seeing one another every weekend and talking on the phone daily. She was very in tune to my needs and I was enamored. There were several oddities of behavior that were perplexing and a few that were unsettling, but I was "in love" and there was an immense amount of good.

I told her that after I retired we could get married, my mistake, and she was on it the moment I announced it. She proposed we could combine it with a graduation present for her son to the Bahamas, which after I had agreed to go with them she asked her ex-husband and his wife to join us. I let her know that it was not an option.

I get along with most people, but her ex made me very uneasy, to say the least. He would talk about himself, his toys, vacations, money he made and his wisdom incessantly. Her two children were also very odd. The oldest, SC, was adopted from infancy and was a black sheep, with reasons to follow. The younger, GC, was unsettling and I couldn't put my finger on it, but he felt dangerous.

SC would tell total fabrications of accomplishments which caused me to research the behavior, because I thought it was so bizarre. I bought a book on narcissism and concluded he was a delusional narcissist. I offered the book to them and they nonchalantly declined, as if they couldn't be bothered--again I was perplexed.

GC was a scary kid that would seem to be every parents desire at a cursory glance. He was an excellent student, well dressed, well groomed and goal oriented. I once saw a study schedule he made up that was in 15 min. increments starting from his morning wakeup alarm to going to sleep. This kid would be smiling at me having a conversation and I'd have the distinct impression he was formulating my demise. Before I met him, his mother warned me that he was very judgmental, critical and adverse if he didn't like you, which was contingent on the unquestionable acceptance of his entitlement, superiority and power.

My ex transitioned from a charming, kind, warm, understanding, personable woman to a cynical, heartless, cruel, impersonal thing. Initially she would go out of her way to be gracious to strangers, which I saw as being a genuinely wonderful person and I felt immense gratitude having her choose me. Furthermore, when we ran into people that "knew" her they would laud her on being such a wonderful person. I believed it and felt so very, very fortunate to be me in the "us".

After we got married it was like going down the other side of a steep mountain, 4 years up one side in bliss and 5.5 years down the other into a dark abyss. I witnessed gas-lighting, ranting, months of silent treatment, disassociation, and much more. I was in a state perplexed shock and anger from a feeling of being duped. At the same time, I wanted the person back that I thought existed before we were married, but she was the illusion, this was the reality and I was in denial.

About three years into the marriage we started seeing a therapist, PHD. I became aware that my wife was not being forth rite, my denial was falling apart and reality was rearing its head. I asked PHD how a kid became narcissistic

PHD confirmed that my wife was responsible for her son's narcissism. After that it felt like she dummied up and started to dismiss, discount and mislead my observations. I continued to see PHD, because talking helped me become clearer. I started to refer to GC as the "golden boy" and SC as the "black sheep". I then realized on my own that her ex was an overt narcissist, which led me to reading posts on the web.

I came across an article on covert narcissism, Nov. 29, 2016 and freaked out, because it was so her. I was so extremely anxious and made an emergency appointment to see PHD. I asked if she knew what a covert narcissist was and she said "no". I didn't believe she was as clueless as she portrayed herself, but knew she was a major "HACK". My friends had asked me to move in with them from the start of my divorce and I moved in that night.

I told my PHD I felt she was misleading and discounting my feelings and she said that if I didn't trust her that we should end our sessions, but I said I needed them.

Then in one post it referenced a "Golden Child and Scapegoat" and then I knew I wasn't nuts, my so called therapist was diffidently misleading me and something clinical was present.

I called for an appointment and got the answering machine. She called back and left a message that we had a nonexistent phone call about a conflict of interest between me and my soon to be ex. She's an older person with some senility issues, I think, or major issues of some kind.

Thankfully I found Al-anon, which has helped me immensely. I had been reading about BPD and while many characteristics where present some things did not fit. She had an aversion to losing her temper, she rarely got angry and when she did I think it upset her more that she got angry than the actual incident. She is very conservative with money. She has not had very many relationships. She takes some physical risks, but not extreme life risks. Then a few months later, I saw an article that talked about the four personalty types: waif, witch, queen and hermit. In that article it mentioned that those that had queen traits would control their negative emotions. So, I labeled her with that and got on with Al-anon to heal myself.

13 months after reading the covert narcissist article I revisited it and do believe with a high degree of certainty that she is BPD/cNPD. It just fits, feels right and doesn't leave me asking any questions.

Being in a relationship with a cNPD is devastating. but the ultimate responsibility for being in that relationship is mine. If I had been healthy I would not have been in that relationship. I see these people as having a serious mental illness and have sympathy for them as I would for anyone with an illness. The xPD's I've been exposed to have been initiated by a parent or parents on a child that ends up passing it on like a genetic defect.

I have the most sympathy for SG. I've thought about how it came to be for him to become who he is. I see him as a kid that had a overt NPD dad, a BPD/cNPD mom and imagined her looking at him, with a look that could elate you or shrivel a plant, from infancy to adulthood. The thing is I can't really imagine that, because I experienced the elation from 51 to 55, a combination ending in total vehemence 55 to 60yo and I was a complete mess.

Best of health and recovery to all!

Andrea on January 19, 2018:

I am this person myself. Horrible! I will seek help in, the Bible. Pray I think if God wants to change me. My mother had taken it all, but I have been like this my whole life from time I remember. Lack of interest on almost anything. And I like psychology. I’m 32. I feel all my lack of actions had turn into me and I feel in a hole unable to make relationships. Not that I care... until now that I want my daughter to have the happy life I’m not having myself

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on May 04, 2017:

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have now started a new support group on Facebook for former/recovering victims of this kind of abuse: N.A.R.C - Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Center.

This is a closed group, anyone on FB can see the group and it's members but only members can see posts (this may change to a private/secret group at some point). The group can be found at

Foxconn on February 26, 2017:

I have been with my wife for 7 years, there is 20 years between us I am 58 she 38, my life has been destroyed by her. Only last week did my doctor tell me she is a covert narcissist, I didn't know what that was and have spent the last week studying and boy it now all makes sense. When we met I was a lonely single guy of 50, this beautiful girl showed instant interest and moved into my house after the first date. Since then she has:

Had me arrested and charged with Male assaults female which never happened and she smiled as the Police took me away in handcuffs.

She took my clients money out of my account while I was abroad and blamed it on me to investigators when I was clearly out of the country.

She has turned my entire family against me.

She has never worked a day. But, she has grandiose plans to start this huge business which she has no experience.

She sits on her computer until 2am in the morning.

She eats different food even if you cook a beautiful meal.

She tells me that she feels scared being around me.

She has to wash me like a baby before having sex which maybe once a month.

She continually puts me down no matter what I do

I never have a conversation its like living with a plastic doll.... not that I know what living with a plastic doll is like.

Even in the car she would be on her phone reading internet rather than interacting.

She is always complaining, my backs sore, my ankles sore, this sore that sore.

Anyway you get the picture there is a million things and I knew in my guts this person is insane but now I have a label.

Where am I now..... My doctor has told me I have to get out, I am on anti depressants and have an alcohol problem.

Ohh and we have a 6 year old daughter that is in my care as she is on charges of child abuse.

Where to from now, we just have to get away from her no interaction whatsoever because they really are emotional vampires and you have to treat them like that, or she will kill me.

Thank you.

April Seldon from New Orleans on February 15, 2017:

Thank you for sharing your hub. I know all to well about covert narcissism.

moflow007 on January 17, 2017:

Ok, well I'm sorta in shock. This has come to my attention before without reading this article just a gut feeling or instinct. I don't think my son of 27 years of age now is actually my son. When I think back to the events and some of statements from her in passing. Her behavior now (I divorced her 8 years ago) but get information from my son about here activities. I would like to ask anyone who wishes to respond... Should I, seek to get a DNA sample and proceed to tell my son the truth?

He is a good boy, always has been. The last thing I would want to do is hurt him. But, sadly, I would hurt his mother at a blink of an eye at what she has done to me and my family.

CovNarclover on September 14, 2016:

So glad I found this! This comment thread is like a support group for people affected by the narcs in their lives. Can anyone else spot at least one narc in the comment thread? It stands out like a beacon to me. I can only imagine the person was pointed to this hub by someone else only to take everyone else's experiences as personal attacks. People should be careful when directing the narcs in their lives to information...they feed upon the very people that seek out this topic.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on September 06, 2016:

Great comment, letstalkabouteduc. Thank you. You mentioned a narcissist's relationship with God or a higher power and that's something I've been wondering about and looking into recently and I think this ties in with Jungian/Archetypal psychology more than anything else and also quantum physics. Each of us are co-creators of our own reality with God/Universe/Source or whatever you choose to call it. We are connected to it through our Higher Selves and when we arw in touch with our Higher self we can manifest whatever we choose in life. This is the power of the Holy Spirit - it does not judge and does not care if your desires are good or bad. It's the power of the Collective Unvonscious - i.e. subconscious programming, coercive persuasion, subliminal suggestion, etc. This may very well be how many narcissists manage to maintain control over their victims for so long - they recognize the true power of thought and emotion (Law of Attraction/Cosmic Ordering).

McKenna Meyers on September 05, 2016:

For us who have a narcissist in our lives, you bring understanding and relief. Your articles are so choked-full of valuable information that I need to re-read them several times and ponder or journal the information. My mother is the covert narcissist in my life and, yes, I have suffered from depression and social anxiety for decades. I'm wondering if it's common for a narcissist to create a special relationship with God. My mom has always said that God ( she actually says the "Holy Spirit") comes to her and delivers messages (coded) on what she should do with her life. How can you argue with someone who says her life choices are determined by a Higher Power? How can you feel any self-esteem when a Higher Power is constantly contacting your parent but never you?

Gabrielle on June 29, 2016:

This exactly describes my ex friend! I have been upset for a whole year and am trying to understand her behaviour! I was also blaming myself but now I realise I have made a lucky escape though I still do feel sorry for her as it must come from her childhood and she can't really help it but I am going to stay escaped!! Phew!

Rambo on May 29, 2016:

This rings so true with my ex boyfriend. I finally got out after almost 2 years of abuse. He is an covert narcissit to the T. But unfortunately for him he is physically unattractive with bad acne all over his body. He truly is a monster inside and out. He tired to cover up his grotesque appearence with stylish clothes. But even in society he was somewhat of an outcast, always trying to be like the cool kids. When people noticed me, he always had to put me down. He even cut my hair boy short when I asked for a tiny trim. He targeted me when we were in hair school together. At the time he was sizing me up. When he got his hooks in me, it was downhill from there...I feel pretty angry knowing the truth now cause I feel stupid for not seeing the signs, but I'm also thankful cause now I know the signs of a covert. Also at the end of the day he is ugly inside and out, and I am not. He thought he could somehow make me ugly like him, but he failed. You can't rob someone or take away something from someone if they are bioglocially born that way. Even in old age I will still be pretty and nice, and he will age horribly because of genetics and continue to be a horrible person.

Sharon B on May 28, 2016:

Thank you for the clarity I've been searching for... I have been trying for over a year to understand what happened to me and much of the time still unsure and confused....I know that it's time for me to heal.. I know what he is I am no longer ashamed that it took me over 22 years to really see him.. I just want to be me again

C M Dyson on January 24, 2016:

Fascinating article. I had the misfortune to work with someone like this who was my immediate line manager. 'Bullying' only just hints at what it was like. Blurring the rules: encouraging colleagues to leave early because he/she wanted to do this 'normalising the irregular. Stealing money was frequently used to try and get colleagues in trouble, hiding medication which she wd then dramatically find, setting up fake facebook accounts to 'prove' she was a victim of bullying. When she was caught out for leaving work early she turned around and claimed to have 1000s of photos of her colleagues abusing a vulnerable adult. The only way we coped was by following rules to the letter so she cdnt use the most minor issues as leverage.

DoveFreexrolo on January 22, 2016:

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Mary Anderson on January 05, 2016:

I can really appreciate all these comments . But it is my daughter that is the narcissist. She is bi polar, and has been treated for years and has been told by doctors , psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, that the problems in her life are caused by her and her alone . She cant hold a job down ever (she is 47 years old) married twice, 3 kids in trouble all the time. I try to tell her when she goes to any meetings to bring up that she is adopted and when she found her birth mother a few years ago the woman laughed as she told her and me she did drugs, smokd drank and when she finally got pregnant she gave her away because a different man wouldnt marry her unless she gave the "bastard" baby up. We raised her in a good , loving home but I am the mother that is being shunned , actually she threw rhe entire family away , siblings, father ,me aunts, uncles, cousins fsmily friends to go to her birth mother. Sometimes some women put the blame on the wrong mother.....I just wanted to state my particular case in case thete are pther mothets our there in my shoes

Blake on October 31, 2015:

This is exactly the type of female I dated off an on for 3 years. I cant simply pass her off as sociopathic thats too broad, this person was very quiet around me and I talked alot simply because she hardly conversed. At the end of our relationship I told her she was too quiet and lo and behold 5 minutes later she tells me Im too quiet lol. The "relationship" was always like this, whatever she said about me was actually the complete opposite of what I was and always the thing that she really was. She put me through hell, she started arguments often over nothing would pack up her stuff and leave frequently, I always took that as she wanted to go fuck someone else. If I ever had a key to her place she would get the locks changed immediately but a couple days later she text back and we'd be back again. I never felt the need to change my locks but of course I had nothing to hide and was cheating. Hell I went through which causes anger which makes me want harm done to her. I was nothing but good to her, this person is horrible with money, filed bankruptcy twice and would often talk about her bills hoping I would offer to help, I never did, if she had asked during those times I would have but she didnt have the courage or whatever, I always thought it was out of guilt for the things she knew she'd done behind my back, but that was it, she didnt straightforward ask because she simply was waiting on me to come around to doing it naturally, never happened. I met this person online, Ive met many people online and have come to know some other females have been the same, I just never had long relationships with them to experience all the idiocy as this one. This person also got pregnant, not by me, yet tried to blame it on me. I knew it wasnt mine as I had proof it wasnt, but she didnt know I had proof. At first I said I know it wasnt mind, she said emphatically it was mine so I said get an abortion, she was against it. So I played a game with her, I said ok we will make this work then, but when you deliver I will take a DNA test, after hearing that she ran to get an abortion, drove 500 miles out of state to do it, lol what a whore. You have to stay away from these people, its hard to understand for the victim how a person can so cold and put on a facade, I had to realize that just as I dont understand how a serial killer's mind works yet know they exist, that people like her exist also. I have many, many stories like this and much much more to say but Ive written enough, God bless you all.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on August 20, 2015:

What about rapists, murderers and paedophiles? Is their behaviour justified by the fact they suffer with mental health issues and they cannot help it? All rapists and murderers are narcissists but not all narcissists are rapists and murderers. Sympathy for the devil!

Liz on August 18, 2015:

Hey, good information in this article, but it's a little troubling that the premise seems to be that "covert narcissists" are terrible. It's not them, it's their (genetic and environmentally-inflicted) disorder that is terrible. The attitude that people with NPD themselves are abusive implies that they can control their disorder. They cannot without proper therapy (which isn't always effective). In the field of mental health, it's really important to distinguish between the person and the disorder, otherwise it just perpetuates hatred toward people with mental illness, which will not solve any problems. Other than that, good article.

Matt on July 07, 2015:

Hey Michelle there's a fellow called spartan life coach that is spending a lot of time working on this particular form of narcissmn he has some programs available ,also Melanie tonia Evans , quantam freedom healing helps to take away effects of years off abuse ,the pain covert narcs inflict can I believe also open doors to a great life ,nearly losing ones soul can be a great catalyst for self growth ,it certainly has been for myself,I found spiritual books are helpful ,it's really now a chance for discovery ,I'm sorry that your husband has lost his relationship with his children this has also been done to me through alienation ,hope my suggestions are a help keep strong and the right answers will come .

Michelle Benton on June 13, 2015:

An excellent article. The most thorough and understandable one I have read yet on this subject. I am married to my high school sweetheart now for two years. He was a victim of narcissism growing up (parent), a malignant narcissist(young and short marriage) and a covert narcissist(ex wife 12 yr relationship). I've been a victim to but not to this degree or for nearly as long. His children, of course, were and still are. From his experience, I can say that the covert is THE WORST. He is doing leaps and bounds better than when we first got involved 3 yrs ago (again) and married. But , no surprise, this has done so much damage it seems it could take his lifetime to fully comprehend and recover. The best progress has been made in his relationship with his dad, but of course this is due to a partial change in his dad, a heart to heart talk years back, and my hubby learning to speak up for himself to him and distance himself on an as-needed basis. My question there any support online or elsewhere for me in this help him, to deal with how I feel about his two children's mothers' treatment(no contact with first one but she also alienated him from his daughter who is now grown) and the issues ongoing with his ex and their child? Bless all of you that have been affected by these evil people and thank you for this great article. Please, if you know of any information or support for the men and women in my position, share it with me. Let's attack this from every angle!!!

Chuck Fasst from Portland, Oregon on May 29, 2015:

I might add that I am writing about a N his victims could not get away from. Narcissism can be deadly.

I made a short vid on the stealth N as well.

Chuck Fasst from Portland, Oregon on May 29, 2015:

The subject of my Hub sure was covert. Absolutely nobody could comprehend what he did. The questions remain to this day.

TisSheilah on May 28, 2015:

Thank you for the article. It is incredibly hard to get away from someone like this. At least I have a better idea of what is going on.

Melissa Reese Etheridge from Tennessee, United States on May 06, 2015:

This is such an interesting hub. I had never heard of this until recently.

Chuck Fasst from Portland, Oregon on April 17, 2015:

The poster above asks about Narcissistic traits. Oh, there are a ton of them. In many ways, they are cardboard cutouts of one another. But what a great article here, thorough. You capture that stealth N in all of its inglorious glory.

bill on April 04, 2015:

Darren Erman

Matt on April 01, 2015:

Ive recently meet another covert narcicissist I had a instant gut feeling about this particular women in regards to her body language very scuttle stuff until this slight flicking of hair that was almost identicle to my ex nwife it was instantly then I new my gut was right I've since confirmed that this women is a covert narc because of her ex husbands experiences ,has anyone else noticed this trait with covert n women my ex did it when ever she spent money at the checkout she would flip her hair in this egoic shuttle way as if it was a rush of ego coming to the surface ,the women I meet recently did it when asking about my career and money earning potential has anyone else noticed this seems like very big coincidence .

Marlene Bertrand from USA on March 12, 2015:

This is such a well-written article, filled with a ton of research and sharing of your expertise through experience. These type of people are not to be taken lightly because in many cases, the sheer nature of their personality makes them care less if, and, or when they hurt someone. Thank you for creating this level of awareness of such a dangerous personality type.

ologsinquito from USA on February 07, 2015:

These are the types of narcissists with whom I've had the most experience. In my own estimation, they are also potentially the most dangerous and most manipulative.

Matt on November 09, 2014:

Melanie saved my life with her work she is our angel ,something that I've not read a lot about is how narcs work with each other to get supply from there victim, both the narcissits that I've been in relationships with work in tandom with friends and family with narcissistic personalitys to destroy me ,the covert ex that i had experienced was so clever and ten times more destructive on my mental state than the ultruistic narc that I meet after ,they usually always win there plans are so cleverly executed and it's hard to imagine these frauds ever had a soul

SparrowMinistries on October 27, 2014:

Celestine, I empathize with your plight. The more upset we become, the more calm they become, making us look like "the one with the problem." I read back through some of the comments here and saw where I had said I am so glad it's over, and then I had gone back to him again. then I came back again and said I am out now. I am truly out now, the divorce is almost final, and thankfully there are no children from this hideous union. I wish I had some advice for you regarding the kids, but I don't. Perhaps when you follow some links here you can connect to others that are dealing with this. Actually, there is one thing that was somewhat helpful to me. It is a website by Melanie Tonia Evans. She also has a Facebook page, I believe. You might find some good advice and support there.

Celestine Robinso on October 23, 2014:

Thank you for this definition of CNPD. Very accurate to my experience, and I'm still dealing with the fallout and deception of this insidious disorder at the hands of my ex-husband. While I can now move forward knowing I'm not willing to enable the problem, the question becomes how to inform the children. They are conditioned to their father's behaviour, and have distanced themselves from me, having watched me go through a huge range of emotions, time and again, in response to the incredible frustration and futility of trying to reason with an unreasonable human being. I'm encouraged by this information. Thanks again.

Chauncey St Clair from New York City on October 05, 2014:

This was an exceptionally informative article. Like many of the comments above, I too had no idea about "covert" narcissism. It's a very interesting topic. When I was reading "Children of the Self-Absorbed" about children of narcissists, I remember learning how narcissism is a spectrum--meaning we all have it. Now, I think it's great that, collectively, we are getting serious about looking at what happens when people take their narcissism to extremes. This article teases out the specifics, which is why it's so helpful! Thank you!

Seebifman on September 16, 2014:

Thank you for some enlightenment. And the lady Serafina above is somewhat right because she was dealing with a person who knew his limitation of his narcissism;you were the hearth of your family. My children expect that from their mother. Their mother is an "iceberg" closet/covert narcissist, and my children now are suffering. Let me explain a little.

I live in Cornwall in England. I am separated from a covert narcissist who for twelve years controlled my like an orb or web spider...increasingly controlling me by entwining me to believe that my ex spouse to be, thought I was "wonderful" when all the time she was using my empathy and laid back attitude to total control but allowing me a long enough leash-lead to allow me some furtive or defensive freedoms.

Since May 2010, she became so confident in her manipulation that she wanted to own her little clothes design shop (she left education totally at 19 years of age as a moderate painter with no college education at tertiary-university level)....does this ring a real achievement but in the mind and using her limited talent to preach to others that she was a wonderful artist but would not train professionally! Her design shop was really a seamstress shop. This was good for the small town she had a little shop did not have a seamstress at all for years and if she had followed a business plan written for her which was confirmed by a professional body she would still have this now....But NO. We have two lovely boys; now 13 and 9 years. They were 10 and rising 7 when she "lived" in her shop for up to 18 hrs a day...No contact with the children apart from an obligatory five mins phone call before bedtime. She could have brought work home; she was self employed and capable of this. At the time she began working her shop we agreed to separate when we had the money; I had just retired from teaching and was the primary carer for the boys and had been for years prior to her shop times too. She was their mother ...but not an interacting mother and this was when the subversion stories began....Eventually I was caring too much for the boys and they got bored at visiting and staying at her shop on a Saturday or Sunday to "help" her . On a few occasions they made a few items from fabric which was good but this was not really developed at this time. They were boys their mother directed girl things...Still in July 2012 she and her oldest son, (she and her two oldest sons were from Lithuanian and were sponsored immigrants (2000) to the UK by me before Lithuania became an EU member in 2004.) So they then decided it was about time they distanced me from the boys and started to psychologically terrorise them and make them fear me by lying about me. She attempted sexual abuse which was denied by my eldest son and me (I have 4 kids; have been a safeguarding officer to over 850 other minor children in a 25 year teaching career which was exemplary). In August that year Children's Services were brought in to "investigate" and rather than investigate empirically, they took on gossip, (you do not know how biased British Social Workers are; the most aggressive feminists in the world, and even without penises!) They acted criminally as such. I was indicted with totally unfounded child and domestic abuse and had to leave my home when the only substantive evidence was "marital disharmony"...affecting how many such homes in the English speaking world???? Yes the Court transcripts tell this. The lead SW not only lied in Court but perverted the course of justice and should be in prison indefinitely....Now my children who wanted to live with me when their mother did not interactively care for them, have been "psychologically raped" and in Gardner's Eight categories of parental alienation relate to all eight including not wanting to see their half sisters who were far better role models as women than their covert narcissist mother.

Let us examine some examples. Allegations on an affidavit that I was having sex with an under age girl at a school I was not teaching at this time and that on three further occasions up to fifteen years later when she was still a supposed minor (she was 33 yrs old!) For the record my relations with this young lady were platonic. I have written testimony of this from her as she has been a Consultant Psychotherapist for twenty years and a devout Christian. But not only this but that I lost my job as a teacher in 1980 when I purposely dropped acid on the foot of an 11 year old boy. Twenty two years later I was still teaching having undergone 20 further annual Department for Education and Police Vetting procedures for working with minors. My report of my professionalism in beyond repute!

So as you can see, my boys have not had nor wanted any contact with their father; although empirical evidence is to the contrary right up until the day of their untimely separation.

In one way you are correct. Attacking a covert narcissist may be difficult. Attacking rogue children services public servants is not. I have written to the Chief Social Worker of the UK Government for a response and she and her tribe are going to be "gravelled" . Those barges which brought your brave boys with my uncle and his friends to Normandy Beaches from 06/06/1944...are not far from the action against nefarious public servants as these who have up until now destroyed our family....Soon they will know what they are having to face.

FYI, in the UK, equivalent to the population of California, Washington State and Oregon in population, about 3.8 million minor children are alienated from one parent and half their families. I do not know what equality laws you have in these three states but in England and Wales (Scotland may be independent as a nation this Friday coming??????) there is as much equality in parental rights as it was in the Neolithic Period! Only good things can happen but only by action. And the best things that could have happened to sanity and balance went out with the baby as is said the day the Pilgrim Father's sailed for the New World (but without the harassment and denigration of your native peoples and the ecosystems of N America!)

Covert narcissists are responsible for domestic abuse and alienation of children. It is a scandal of the civilised world. They have to be punished in this case for their psycho-terrorism of minors be they female or male. Maybe it could be part of their rehabilitation whilst serving a 5-10 stretch in the chokey!

Dylan K. on July 26, 2014:

It is painfully clear after reading this article that my mother is a covert narcissist. She psychologically murdered my father and I have suffered from c-ptsd since I was in my teens. Thank you for explaining this condition so clearly.

ugotstahwonder on April 08, 2014:

I can relate to the patterns set up by your family of origin. It is positively freaky how repeating situations just seem to magically come about. It's given me a deep appreciation for things metaphysical. I am at a make it or break it stage, unable to keep cycling through the same old shit, not sure if I can stop it and ready to pack in most all hope of further relationships if not. Just done!

spiritheart67 on March 01, 2014:

Thank you SO MUCH for this informative article. I am a child of a parent with severe NPD and while I am aware of the narcissism that has been present in all of my partners, i am recently coming out of a very difficult relationship with someone I've only just recently recognized as a narcissist. I had No Idea until now that this form existed and that this is the source of the abuse I've been experiencing from him. Everything in this article was spot on and I am definitely experiencing all of the physical and mental affects/damage as a result of being subjected to this form of Covert Narcissism. I'm fighting for my life right now and trying to figure out how to regain control of and move forward in my life. It helps so much to know I'm NOT the 'crazy' 'bad' one, that someone else understands and has experienced these things. that I'm not alone and all of this is a legitimate 'thing', not just me being unreasonable, demanding or unfair. Any insight or advice is greatly appreciated!

mb on January 06, 2014:

After finally leaving the hole I was in with a malignant narc mother/brother/father and moved into shared accommodation I met the land owner, he seemed real awesome until I realized it was simply projecting an image of me. The first few days I received a mental impression of who it was I saw instantly a pathetic inferior jealous self centered fool. I assumed it was because of its prior 8 year heroin addiction but I now see that it was an excuse for its extremely narcissistic behavior. The peeps I live with are in its thrall, one woman in particular literally moves around the house in a quite very quick manner and looks scared and acts avoidant most of the time. She has alienated her poor cat. Narc abuse no doubt.

Yet when I express my anger via singing a bit too loud (albeit a bit over the top) I feel as if I am being scapegoated like crazy, for instance the other day I asked how the woman was and she copied what i said as if narc abusing, probably she was trying to protect herself even though there was nothing to protect against and left me feeling pissed because she turned the convo on me in a way, you guys know what I mean. Another annoying thing that occurred and its so silly like honestly... I have 2 necklaces which make metallic-impact noises as I walk around like a bell I suppose. I haven't worn these necklaces for a long time for narc related reasons, I decided that I was kidding my self and begun wearing them then it dawned on me there is a correlation in her mind between the sounds her cats collar makes and my necklaces hence creating a ridiculous situation where I scapegoated myself in her eyes. She of course took off the cats collar in 'retaliation' honestly its so ridiculous I am going to confront her about this before I move out within this week (thank god) tho I am worried that the house I am moving into now is occupied by narc parents their kid. I sense it, the dynamics are strange, the father acts really childish or at least very youthful/energetic, the mother came off as distant and penetrating, the convos they had between each other was like a mother/son relationship where in this case the mother seemed very uptight, strict, self centred even. I didn't pay much attention to her.. there was a moment where she asked a question and she was staring rather intently in an uncomfortable way, they did NOT come off as genuinely friendly even though the father seemed alright albeit childish.. The mother seems to be the main dominant figure in their relationship, the way they spoke to each seemed interpersonal for sure but cold, the father seems optimistic and was engaging the mother in a playful convo while the mother replied in a cold manner, not returning that enthusiasm. I told them I come from a very bad place which was replied with that the father too has a difficult background... narcissism?

It all sounds like narcissism, maybe its the mother who has virtually infantalised the father hence it acts childish. I senses contempt from her tho I cannot be sure because of other circumstances in my life currently making my reality not solid. The kid seemed too quiet for a 4 - 6 year old as if trained. I am a scorpio and possess a very piercing gaze which I noticed intimidated the father he literally looked like a scared child.. while the mother returned that stare I suppose (mirroring?).

Life is a gift it really truly is something to look forward to, the light at the end of the tunnel exists. When I first moved into the current hole I am in I had real peace and started to let go until the abuse.....

eosesd on December 12, 2013:

I've been with my covert narcissist for 5 years (after having been married 25 years) and would like to share my story if it helps someone. We are both highly educated and both approx 50 years old. At first I thought he was the way "he was" because he went to Harvard & is a Rhode's Scholar and owns a bunch of companies and is extremely handsome and fit. Heck, you'd expect him to have some narcissism - right? But then I realized that what he had went way beyond healthy narcissism. He lied about even the most trivial things - like where I lived when talking to strangers - and went out of his way to give people money - even those that knowingly were stealing from him! If a taxi cab driver was supposed to charge a flat rate of $15 to bring us to the airport (it's clearly marked in the cab) and the driver charged us $40 I would speak up - and he would tell me the man deserved the extra $$ and would hand him $50! It was the craziest thing. As if he is constantly buying attention. If the conversation sways my way (I also am pretty successful and have a PhD) - within minutes he'll sway it back to him and all his greatness. If his company loses money it's always due to the ineptness of staff. If they make money it's always because of his brilliance. He'll pass out his business cards to women hitting on him - right in front of me - claiming it's for business purposes! Quite the charmer. And he will never plan more than a few days ahead. He is like a vagabond with no real home - he usually lives out of a suitcase (although he has multiple homes) and risks his life by doing things that could kill him like flying his private airplane (he has 3) in bad weather. I think he actually believes he is indestructible. But the last straw was his going away on vacation a few months ago with his ex-wife and kids - without telling me or inviting me (she stayed on his family's island in a separate cabin but he paid to get her there and has routinely stayed at her home when visiting his kids so he thinks nothing of having her along. I don't think there is anything sexual between them (she is close to 70 years old and a drunk) - but she provides him with the narcissistic supply he needs when I'm not around and takes care of their two teenagers who are pretty horrible spoiled children so he can focus on himself. I confronted him when I found out she was there and he denied, denied, denied. He said she was NOT with him on vacation but when given evidence otherwise he said he was not WITH her but yes, she was on the island. Semantics?? Are you kidding me. Any way, I threw him out of my home. Then he insisted I not throw "us" away and asked me to go see a therapist with him. Big mistake. That's where he went into his first narcissistic rage and grabbed me by the collar nearly strangling me. I had "outted" him in front of an outsider. Narcissists hate it when we figure it all out and fight back. He later went back to our home and did not sleep for the next 72 hours and started staring at the stars and talking crazy - blaming ME for everything I had done to him (things which he had actually done!). He was definitely in the middle of some sort of psychotic episode. He told me how upset he was with ME and that he'd have to consider taking me back. Huh??? That's when I (again) asked him to get out. He's had no long term relationship (longest was 5 -7 years) - married the first time to a woman who was old enough to have been his mother - but she was also filthy rich - and she refused to have his children because it would cause stretch marks - so they paid someone in California to carry their children. Talk about insanity. Then after the twins were born she left him because of his "problems". Wife #2 was a doctor, 55 years old and never married. Another great pick. He said she was, of course, the "best" doctor in her field and she introduced him as her "Rhode's Scholar" husband. Again, another narcissist. Then after a few years she tried to have him committed. Hmm... If only I had known all this. Any way, now that I threw him out he has offered to buy me a vacation safari and trying to buy my affection. I guess that's the only way he knows how. Sad story all around. But at least I recognized it before it was too late. I know I'm not perfect - not as smart or rich as he is - but I deserve so much better and I'm so happy and relieved to be rid of him. If anyone out there would like to compare notes, I'd love to hear from you. eosesd @ yahoo

anewday on December 09, 2013:

Really informative post. I had been struggling to see my ex-narc in the light of all the general info I have been reading. Certainly holds all the criteria, but is a self-depracating person, pessimistic, and often resorting to bouts of severe self critique. Very seldom grand-standed, although the grandiosity was always in the background. But on the surface, a very mild mannered, cautious, shy person - but under the hood - a whole different story. Really appreciated your insights on covert narcissism - makes a whole lot of sense from a situation that was anything but sensible.

n on November 25, 2013:

Great article. The person I was involved with was a covert narcissist. Or so it may seem. 3 weeks now since we broke up. We were together long distance for 8 months. So I think I got out of it lucky. I am extremely sensitive and codependent at times too but am adept at noticing when things go wrong. Now recovering. Keep having dreams about her which hurts because the dreams encompass the good things we shared. I feel very messed up in the head over this plus lived with 2 narcissists who housed me before and discarded me. So am in need of a lot of recovery and counselling I think.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on November 24, 2013:

Hi Tom, this post definitely wasn't written by your cousin (unless we happen to be related somehow - but it wasn't me that told you about it). Thanks for commenting.

tomAgillmon on November 20, 2013:

I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I'm not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thanks!


Raymond on November 09, 2013:

Thanks for the indepth explanation. I might even see a few of those traits in me. I didn't realise but there are people I know in relationships that have seriously suffered from their partner's NPD.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on November 06, 2013:

By the way, I am male and do not have an ex-boyfriend! Also, I have spent years researching the disorder with GP's, therapists, victims, etc aswell as having many years direct experience - as you can see from the comments, I know what I'm talking about and this article has become one of the most popular on the internet on this topic.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on November 06, 2013:

Adam Cov-Narc,

You are clearly talking about inverted narcissism, also known as co-narcissism, not to be confused with covert/stealth narcissism. See:

Some people have been misinformed on this issue. Sam Vaknin being one person who has confused the term. See:

Adam Cov-Narc on November 06, 2013:

Poorly informed text on stereotypical "bad guy" narcissists. Mentioning personal experience is an obvious tell of how personal and emotional this post is.

Though covert narcissists do exist, we are way to uncaring about the matters of the world around us to steal your money. We are the self-aware kind of narcissists. We often come with a slightly higher than average intelligence, an extreme fear of failure in all respects, and incapable of normal social interaction. Altough we may sound cold and aloof about matters of ethics, we do develop very good ethics during young adulthood. You don't have to drag our label in the dirt, we haven't done anything. Most have done nothing with our lives and will continue to due so until we're dead. Considering our high ods of committing suicide because of severe depression caused by aforementioned lack of general activity and awareness of how little we do with life, you needn't worry about anything other than your 'sociopath' ex-boyfriend.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on September 14, 2013:

This hub has had 3 questions and a new video added. If you can, please take the time to answer the 3 questions in the right column (in grey) - people may find the answers useful.

Johnny on August 06, 2013:

Another interesting aspect of a Covert Narcissist (CN) is the way that friends can be treated by them. Basically: here today and charming when they need us, gone tomorrow and rude when they no longer need us.

I had been friends with a CN for over 20 years and did not realize it until the last year. He is very typical of the type, extremely charming, everyone loves him, he's almost "perfect", never gets mad, always says the perfect thing in every situation, women love him, etc. etc. Over the years, I had supplied him with clients, work, food, free trips, etc.

He was married to a woman who supported him financially and also fed him clients (he was in the creative field) as she was very well connected and when they divorced suddenly his world fell apart and he was nearly homeless with no clients and no work. At that point, he leaned on his friends very heavily for support, myself included. He was living in an apartment that another friend had given him as long as he would do remodeling on it while there. Needless to say, the remodeling did not happen very quickly and that friend decided to evict him. He was on his way to couch surfing and living hand to mouth when...

He was introduced to a woman who had lost her husband the previous year. After a whirlwind romance, within 3 months he was living with her and within 8 months they were married. This woman is extremely wealthy and has two children. All of her friends told her to slow down and not marry him, and at first they were not going to be married, just live together. But without warning, they planned a wedding within the next few months. This woman has been manipulated into paying off his debt, buying him a car and even buying him a space in a new building for his creative endeavors. The woman was very vulnerable (needing a husband, needing a father for her kids) and also very easily manipulated. She was putty in his hands and will surely be a victim in the future if not already.

Once he was firmly entrenched into his new life, with her and her money... POOF! All of his old, non-rich friends were cut off. He no longer needs us and has pretty much cut us out of his life entirely. He's become extremely buddy-buddy with all of his rich new friends that are in his new wife's circle.

Keep in mind this was a man who I got together with on a bi-weekly basis for over 20 years to talk, enjoy music, eat dinners together, etc. (most of the time on my dime) and now suddenly we're no longer friends. What was really telling was how (at the wedding) he had almost nothing to do with his old friends, barely spoke to us. Why? He had a new rich life, a wife with loads of money... he knew it didn't matter any longer, he no longer had to be charming - to us. And he wasn't. But you can believe that he was extremely charming to his new friends and circulated with them at the wedding. What was really telling? The fact that not ONE Of his old friends were in the wedding party. They were all new people who had money.

The last few times I talked to him, he was cocky, rude, arrogant and very off-putting. This was an entirely different person than I'd known for over 20 years previously. This man was one of my best friends and his personality had changed so much that I could barely stand him.

The friendship is basically over and I'm still stunned that I never knew the real person behind that mask until now.

So, beware, you can truly be a victim of CN - even as a friend of the covert narcissist.

JHR333 on July 13, 2013:

It's been probably 2weeks now, since I first started reading up on this. Honestly, I had to close this & take this long to digest what a mess my life is in, almost too afraid that I'm left with such little strength to think I could ever turn my whole life around, & get out. I'm SO isolated that my husband even LIVES upstairs in our house, in his "room", as if he is the 4th, and worst behaved child in the house. No rules apply to him, he's entitled to everything, now spends approximately $10-15,000 a month on his 5 personal credit cards, (w/nothing to show for), & when I ask who or what he is supporting, I'm told things such as, 'maybe I'm getting scammed'? (But he keeps PAYING this amount not ever questioning?!), or, he'll "research it & get back with me". He's even gone so far to say, "maybe it's YOU who is using my cards for purchases "??! (He accuses me of confiscating the mail, said he's actually MISSING a card?!) Its impossible to have a real conversation about ANYTHING, much less emotions. If I ever do attempt to talk about anything hurtful to me, then I'm always accused of "trying to pick a fight", or "there you go, with your lists". We even went to a counselor once who told me my husband would be perfectly fine with me being a Stepford wife. Just like I read, even the counselor would wink at me, as a reminder of him suggesting that we just "go along with him", when everything was manipulated and turned on me?? I felt like I could trust no one. So let down. What hurts me the most, is the way he has treated our children. Calls them every name in the book, for something like leaving shoes "in his room", so he sits them out in the hallway, as if in a hotel to be picked up by housekeeping. (Aka ME). I feel so much guilt, for not being able to offer my children a stable functional home. If I was the rational, level-headed, better parent, then I keep asking myself...couldn't I have in the past, or in the future, muster the strength to get away??? He's managed to strip away everything, everyone, who was ever in my life...1 at a time, over years. I'm basically left without any support system that was ever familiar to me. I'm just left constantly questioning myself, thinking that I've always been a good judge of character, but the one person I MARRY, was possibly just a facade, like a character, so I didn't really fall in love with a real person that even exists? All I know is that somewhere, very slowly, without my knowledge or full understanding, is that my husband died along the way, because I now feel trapped with a man I really never knew. I'd like to not feel invisible anymore, or to not feel like I'm a hostage who is safe with his secrets. Thank you so much for writing about NPD, and giving validation to my every thought and experience.

imran on May 06, 2013:

Thanks so much for writing about NPD, I'm currently on my way out of an abusive relationship with a covert narcissist and I finally know what was going on through all these years... Talking to a counsellor helped a lot as well. I'm so glad I can see clearly now but still I can wake up in the middle of the night all covered in sweat and wanting to run away

GinaBina on May 01, 2013:

This describes my marriage of over 20 years! You nailed it!! I have been divorced for over a year now. I am trying to heal and make sense of all his lies...and the lack of empathy he had towards everyone.

When I walked into my attorney's office, I was a basket case. My Ex called me crazy a lot. I am so thankful I had an attorney who could see what I couldn't see.

Thank you for such valuable information.

Matt on April 27, 2013:

Hello this is an exact dicription of my ex she along with her p father had a plan to take my assets and destroy me ,luckily my family have supported me ,not that she hasn't tried to manipulate them against each other ,why do they do exactly the same things the cn stole my wallet and birth papers set about becoming close to my children's teachers ,she uses anything to gain attention even munchausens by proxy with our asthmatic son all set up to blame me ,she has intentions of doing charity work to gain attention,always running around for the school helping out teachers doing scrap booking for them if they leave.when finally I left I saw a two different people one was crying saying that she loved me and she was going to kill herself ,then she was smile talking saying that I was paranoid and the things that I was accusing her off weren't true ,this was the site that rang all of the alarm bells thanks so much for all your work ,realizing what I been in has helped me start healing .she has taken almost all I've worked my life for but really she has nothing because without your health what have you really got, she has already turned one child against me and is capable of anything without remorse , I have got over the anger stage and now want to regain myself ,after walking out a complete ghost and suffering PTSD and anxiety , thanks again

desert safari on April 11, 2013:

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Adrijan on January 22, 2013:

Then again, I may be deluding myself even now... that I'm a good person...

goldenprince13 on January 22, 2013:

I have to say, considering it was only yesterday i spoke to the author about the almost zero treatment and recovery of 'covert narcs' as you put it, then today a "self-styled" and self diagnosed one appears saying that he cannot win all the time as he is a good person with a strict moral code, has sent my instincts ringing like a bell at st pauls cathedral,

And the fact you have chosen to write as much as you find on any hub just to "explain" yourself, again seems totally at odds with ANY covert malignant narcissist, and you talk far more like a pseudo overt than a covert ever would, and you are painting a false image in text that is clearly meant to be truth about a 'real' covert, who must be the first to ever self diagnose and seek treatment for it with a psychiatrist, your story is exactly that...a story

i smell shenanigans and notice your little sly dig at the author in there, and you have clearly appeared with an agenda and it is as transparent as your false moral code.

That is all you will be hearing from me.

Adrijan on January 22, 2013:

I seem to be covert narc, cerebral all the time and somatic in phases. I diagnosed myself and went to the psychiatrist to talk to him about. No pressure from anyone. Everyone thinks I'm a nice, smart, capable and hardworking person that never did anything wrong to anyone(that means I'm a successful covert narc, heh). I had a lot of depression symptoms from work stress(narcs get really upset about setbacks and stupid people making decisions that influence their lives greatly) and started exploring neurochem and then stumbled onto NPD. Every word seemed to match and explain my behavior perfectly.

And the way NPD describes me is very... hard to read. for a narc that believes he is good to the world.

I want to be a good person. I have always wanted this - honestly. I have an older brother, probably an overt narc who abused me. Parents are probably both cerebral narcs, family of coldness that I feel nothing good about. On the outside we seemed like a perfect family.

Since I was a kid I have felt the entire NPD arsenal on me including blackmail and manipulation and outright agression from older brother, beatings from father and conditional love from both parents(only when good boy, had to have all straight As bla blah). I have recognized and felt these malignant behaviours as a kid and decided never to make anyone else feel like that. I am pretty intelligent and I drew a very rigid and correct moral line that disabled most of my NPD weaponry with high amounts of anxiety, probably installed into me during childhood. It made me a bit of a solo act(lots of social anxiety and avoidance, low self-esteem, unable to form good friendships, been on the computer for most of the time practicing my cerebral stuff) for the most of my life but I have, for the most part, been good to people.

My moral standard strictly does not allow me to "win" in any situation of "trade". I always have to give more to feel good about myself. This actually occurs even in simple sales of my old used car or something(I have to blurt out all that is wrong with the car and possibly could go wrong and lower the price). I have nothing from this. Some random person that I sold the car thinks that I'm nice(infact an idiot) and I'll never see them again. But I feel good about myself. Well not really, I feel like an idiot because I often lose more money than I should that way. Buy the anxiety of being a bad person is worse than losing money.

I am married and have noticed that I have manipulated my wife into certain things that I wanted really bad. These are subsoncious manipulations, my subcosnscience first has to create a nice picture for my conscience to make it ok for me to do something that I would normally not want to do or consider immoral(I could never demand something just because ... I have to earn everything and double even ). The way this happens for me is usually I try to cause a certain "debt" by doing everything in my power to make the other person feel VIP and then expect to get what I need. This is not conscious. I honestly enjoy doing things for her. Maybe because my subconsicous enjoys it because it knows that it will enable it to ask for what it wants. I get emotionaly upset if my needs are then not met and obviously have lots of arguments in my favor - evertything I did for her. Then some passive agresssion and I usually got what I want. However I noticed this pattern after I had gotten what I wanted(usually how it goes, the consciousce can resolve what really happened only after the subconscious is done with the dopamine dumping)

I really have to struggle with this as the subconscious me does the "magical thinking"(dopamine thinking, that is why we are prone to substance abuse, dopamine will make even crap smell and taste good) and persuades me. I noticed that I like to comment her friends for example, often derogatory. It took me a few months to figure it out but I managed to recognize and stop it. I recognize it because I have to(and can't really stop obssessing if everything is perfect in my life) introspect a lot. I do not consider my wife not having friends a perfect life, I am not stupid. Even though the narc in me is possesive obviously. I realise I have to kill that trait in order to get the perfect life.

Anyway, in time, all these self-installed rules, apprehensions become somehow normal and more automatic and I feel like I'm growing up. Infact I think this whole disorder is basicly people not growing up when they should.

It took me the initial 6-12 months of the relationship to work out all my bad moves and eliminate them. Most of them were kept inside me anyway providing me with endless sleepless nights in selftorment - does she love me(oh yea, the subconscious project the feelings of rejection too, and you can't stop it). This is what got me work stress as I was unable to think from the obssession of me being rejected but also from the conscious effort not to act on it - it takes a lot out of a man.

This is how I live. It is not easy. Constantly introspecting and trying to get some more perspective out of everything so you can recognize your bad moves(sometimes unfortunately after the deed is done and the dopamine rush is gone) and slap yourself on the wrist.

You could say I'm faking to be good person. I wouldn't have to try so hard if I was "normal". But maybe I'm really better than everyone. Who else would try so hard? And why? Why indeed. I can't answer that. The desire to be fair to people was in me since I remember.

I know my brother put his ex into the shrink for 4 years PTSD. I don't want to do that to my wife. I really love her. Maybe that's an overstatement for a narc. Maybe I'm lying to myself. But she is happy and smiles all the time and has her friends and family. I honestly love the sight of her smile and the sound of her voice. I have never said a bad word to her. I didn't even want to. It may be that I'm idealising her, whatever.

But I am a narc. I am the smartest person in the world - and smart enough to recognize my own disability and smart enough to draw a rigid moral line for me . I stray from time to time but still do better than the next normal person.

I'm sure there are narcs like me out there and I don't think we deserve all this bad rep. Reading about this disorder while realising you suffer from it has been a horrific experience for me, made me anxious and queasy. Made me doubt the purpose of my existance and I wanted to kill myself. Even if everything I do is driven by some "selfish bad engine" I think my actions on the world sum up as really positive and you should not make me want to kill myself. In the end, what then makes you better than me? (aren't I manipulative?)

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on September 26, 2012:

So true, it's confusingly frustrating for the victim, they can never seem to quite put their finger on what's actually going on, it's so well disguised.

SparrowMinistries on July 21, 2012:

Bedbugabscond-It is very unhealthy and trapped is a very good word. the partner feels like they are the crazy one because everyone else thinks the N is such a great person, so saintly and angelic. Only my family knows the truth, and among those who know the N and don't know my family, they just think my family are terrible people out to destroy my marriage. It's so twisted and really hard to get free.

Melody Collins from United States on July 17, 2012:

Wow, this is a really interesting Hub. I think I know a covert Narcissist. If I am right, then it would be almost impossible to get this person to go and get the proper diagnosis and help they need.

However, I hope anyone who is trapped in a relationship with a covert Narcissist can find a way to break free. Being in a relationship like that would be very unhealthy.

William E Krill Jr from Hollidaysburg, PA on July 11, 2012:

Well written, good stuff!

SparrowMinistries on May 30, 2012:

Very helpful article.

savedbyJesus on May 23, 2012:

This is very interesting. I just found out tonight about NPD. Now it all makes sense about my very recent ex fiancé. I couldn't ever explain why I couldn't talk to him anymore. Now I know why. I recently had a mental breakdown. My body and mind totally shutdown. I couldn't take it anymore. I was down for almost a month. Praise be to God my mind is sound again.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on April 27, 2012:

Thanks for the comment Sandy,

I'm glad you learned from both this article and the comments - That means my hub is doing exactly what I intended it would do.

SandyMcCollum on April 26, 2012:

Wow, just the comments taught me stuff! Thanks for the great read, I did learn from this. Never thought of Covert Narcissism before.

Pam on April 21, 2012:

I'm curious to know if there is a high incidence of incest between NPD and their parent? I lived with a NPD for over four years and his elderly mother also resided in his home. It was subtle but it seemed to me that there was some underlining sexuality in their relationship. But as most victims of NPD I always questioned my own powers of observation and wondered if it was "just me". Thanks

Kim Costanzo on April 01, 2012:

Nice to know (sic) why I had the heart attack.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on January 29, 2012:

I also love your story rasta1, you obviously had one major advantage having already learnt how to deal with the abuse. Knowledge is power.

womanatthewell on January 25, 2012:

Love your story, rasta!

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on January 25, 2012:

Some time ago I opt to live with a sexy girl in an isolated location. She was an overt narc. Everything went well for the first couple of days. Then she started to use my isolation and lack of not having a car against me. She also used money against me, she had just landed a good job. I was having problems sourcing money from my paypal and other accounts.

Things got really bad. She started to complain that my money was too slow and I had to bring more to the table. She had a veracious sexual appetite. So she started to break me down for a second.

However, what she did not know was that I had an escape plan. I have been dealing with narcs all my life.

1) I found out her behavior was influenced by a conflict she had with her mother at 16 and use it against her.

2) Had infiltrated her friends and preconditioned them to see me as the good guy before she started trashing me.

3) Occasionally hide her tools of narcissism like iPhone and credit cards. So there is no distractions when initiating counter-psychological techniques when she is in panic.

4)Find out any pharmaceuticals taken. She was taking a prescribed drug that has meth (most pills do)

4) Pretended to be in hurt, so that she would punish me with more money and sex.

5) Had an exit strategy, had a friend who lived down the road so that I could leave anytime, but I had to let her think I was trapped.

Basically she could not have had me. I was too experienced. I was also upset that she tried to exploit me when I had opened up. When she found out that I was not stranded and she was being played. She became very docile and subordinate. I then just exited.

Nady on January 25, 2012:

I finally got a job!!! I start tomorrow and it will go for 2 months. What a relief! What's funny - sort of - is that Friday I got rejected for one job and got hired for this one within a half hour of each other. I am so relieved and happy. MANY THANKS FOR YOUR HELP Dr.(!!! Especially for the extra time - very nice and very appreciated...

womanatthewell on January 23, 2012:

Wow! wonderful.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on November 06, 2011:

@Peter, usually the CN makes it impossible for you to do the same but clearly not in your situation. Behaving that way yourself gives your wife an easy opportunity to point the finger at you and lay the blame on you to all of her family and friends. Focus that energy on doing something about the relationship and getting out of there, at the end of the day divorce can wait until a more suitable time.

@Laine, your husband certainly displays many of the characteristics associated with this disorder. All I can suggest you do about it at the moment is read as much as you can and determnine for yourself. Maybe have a chat to your doctor or GP about it.

Peter. on November 05, 2011:

Can I divorce my wife or leave her ? It all will be to difficult and expensive. I am afraid she will make me totally bankrupt and she will blackmail me with the children. So I do not intend to divorce her. But I know she has secret affairs with other men, while at home she allways was and is frigide. I am certainly not an ugly man, but rather attractive. We can go to swingerclubs, but she does not want with me. She secretly does this with other men. Secrets, secrets and secrets !! I intented to do the same as she does and have affairs with other women. When she found out about this, she gives me the silent treatment. It is lasting already for 4 months. I do not mind and I have nice love-affairs with other women. Okay, I am a family-man and in fact I do not like with what I am doing, but what else I can do ?

Waiting on November 03, 2011:

This describes my husband to a T. Been together for over 30 years. Don't know what to do. Financially - heading for bankruptcy (his third, second I've been taken through), on the verge of foreclosure, no source of income for myself. Am caring for a medically,physically disabled daughter and cannot work. (I can't leave her with him while I work as he won't care for her needs.) Worry at times about what he's capable of. Waiting for a parting of the Red Sea.

Laine on October 08, 2011:

Is my husband a narcissist? he does not make friends, is very critical and negative yet can charm the pants of people with his humor, but rarely laughs at anyone else's jokes - even his kids ones! We have 3 boys 18,19,21(he is my 2nd husband, I have two children to my previous husband) and I have tried everything from when they were little to get him to show them affection, he never wanted to play with them, help with homework etc, i have taught all of them how to drive and I have spent the last 20 odd years arguing with him about how he was their role model and one day hey may be dads too but he never cared enough to even try, often saying if I don't like it "there's the door" if I got upset he'd tell me to "stop sooking" I can't ask anything of him as he gets annoyed, his father shook hands with the boys when they were toddlers-no affection- and his mother did not condone public displays of affection - all their family photos were in the spare room - none on display in the main rooms.His sister (older) was an A grade student but even though my husband is pretty intelligent he has done nothing with his life, I feel he was compared to her but really don't know because he's very defensive of his family and won't talk about it. he has been seeing a counsellor for a while(he had depression a couple of years ago) but I'm not sure what about as our relationship has deteriorated, he's not interested in doing anything with me and can be very lazy, I'm lonely and tired of being responsible for just about everything, he he doesn't care are how run down things getso in frustration I go and fix things (what I can anyway) He's been faithfull to me and a good worker but I'm tired and confused, sometimes I wonder if it's me that's the problem. I've told him I want to separate, he's agreed but I really don't think he thinks it will happen. Give me strength....

Peter on October 08, 2011:

For everyone who is interested in covert narcissism I recommend to buy the French movie " La belle du jour " to buy on DVD. Covert narcissism is also known as a typically female form of narcissism.

Peter on September 17, 2011:

It seems to be that covert narcissism is more frequent in former East-Europe and overt narcissism in West-Europe, I read. I think this is correct, because my wife is Polish and I am Dutch. I am not narcissistic, but my wife is a typically covert narcissist and she is totally the character as you described in your article.We are together for 23 years now.

Better standard of living in West-Europe seems to be not working with covert narcissists from East-Europe and I am convinced that they were much more happy under the old communistic regimes. Covert narcissists love "strong" leaders and men. People like good old Stalin. Not softies, like me. I like to talk about things and problems, but covered narcissists more prefer to obey orders from "strong men".

Yes, my wife has secret relations with other men and I find out all about those relations. Most strikingly is that those "strong" men humiliate her totally and treat her very sadistically. When I would slap her face once, she would immediately call the police. Those "strong" men can do anything to her. Stalin would be the right man for her.

PJO on September 02, 2011:

Very interesting and insightful, I thought for a while I may be married to a narcissist but your article of covert narcissism hit it right on; it was as though you were writing about he and I.

Aremelle on September 02, 2011:

Greetings again Sparkster,

Got a notice in my email. TY. You know (blush) I didn't bother to notice where You originate from, yikes! I HAVE noticed the differences in criteria of diagnoses between US and UK.

My former son in law is a classic Narcissist; that why narcissim became an interest to me years ago. The BEAST I lived with was BORN the way he is. He is not a youth either; he is 63yrs old and has been a pain in the neck to everyone, I now realize, since a child. Pyro, rape, dishonorable discharges from military sent to Federal Prsion, In and out of state prisons, mental hospital I NOW FIND OUT..omg!!

This one is what we used to call: THE BAD SEED. His brain (the amygdala is my guess) is not functioning well...

He Mirrored, split, and Parroted and glommed onto others to SUCK THE LIFE out of them as in ?EMOTIONAL VAMPIRE?..He EXPLOITED people for personal gain over and over and throughout the years got MUCH SLICKER AT IT until today, folks downtown THINK he is just a cute, wonderful guy---------in a wheelchair. NOT.

He's dangerous and eventually he will work himself into a situation where he destroys himself........again. Woe unto the next female (or close friend) that finds herself/himself ensnared by that animal.

Beware the Public Glandhanders ala Ted Bundy who ran a suicide hotline, lets not forget..

Be Well and ty again ==?== A

Sparkster on August 31, 2011:

Yes, a sociopath and a psychopath have been merged into the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder. However, I don't feel that this name describes is accurately at all, it's quite misleading. Especially with the ASBOs (Anti Social Behaviour Order) being handed out in the UK to those that cause trouble in public, generally bored youths.

Aremelle from NorCal on August 29, 2011:

Thank You Sparkster;

Much appreciated. He is definitely a "Sociopath", but they don't call them that much anymore, via my research, they use the term PSYCHOPATH and from what I've read they typically have a "measure" of each of those PD tendencies to qualify; tho' one of them is likely to be the Dominant trait. (Not all Psychopath's Murder people, btw)

If interested, See a couple publications: (1) "Meaning from Madness" Richard Skerritt: ?Understanding the hidden patterns that motivate Abusers; Narcissists, Borderlines, and Sociopaths"? et al. (2) Magazine: ?"Secrets of Your Brain"--Special Edition U.S.NEWS? Pages; 45-47 Very Interesting stuff in general.

I started to write out my entire history with this person; it's too long, too painful, too aggitating to me. Suffice it to say; I LOST HORRIFICALLY while trapped (with AND after leaving my own home) by this sick twist. I will never be the same.

Much good will and good luck to You and thank you for taking the time to share these things with me/us..

Be Well, Aremelle ~~

Aremelle from NorCal on August 27, 2011:

Thank You Sparkster for the review and consideration.

I know that he is a Psychopath but was "curious" about the two points you made regarding overt and covert NPD. I'd never heard it before..It's very interesting. I can use all the prof. information I can find to help build my case in court next month. >I< would ADORE to go on with my life, what's left and LEAVE him sink to the bottom of the ocean--IF HE would leave ME alone. He will not. It's a NIGHTMARE Sir.

Thank You, A

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on August 26, 2011:

Thanks for the comment Aremelle, you raise some interesting points and seem a little dubious about what the problem actually is. My response is an in-depth one so I'm going to go back through what you said and I'll post here again when I'm done.

Aremelle from NorCal on August 26, 2011:

Thank You for this research and clear explainations. I've read Sam Vaknin's work in the past. I like how you laid out the info here.

A bit of confussion for me is the difference(?)between OVERT and COVERT Narci's. Can they be both or some degree of one or the other along with the main malfunction?

The person I was tangled up with for half my life ='o( exhibited both types; though was MOSTLY the Covert type--which was mainly noticable at home, in private with just me there. EGADS

He seldom went out with any friends, he seldom left the house (is disabled too), He didn't speak to neighbors unless pressed to do so, he tried to control the inside, the home and mostly had me doing the "step n fetch it" routine.

The OVERT side, if I should call it that, was when he felt well enough or balanced enough to pull it together He' go to meetings, attend His clubs, and became involved in (volunteer/unpaid) civic programs--He did pretty well at these. Metro Transit task forces where the disabled and elderly's bus riding issues were addressed, bus routes to places that seniors et al could access. His work was appreciated and "Positive", as far as I could tell; won awards and had many folks praising him. He was liked by most, as far as I can tell this way too. I watched people praise his work and his volunteer spirit of giving/helping for years and years. He did not become "close, chummy friends" with most, however, those tiny few that he did like being around KNEW not to just drop by the house; mostly he met them away from the home or tolerated a short visit with those few and infrequently. He didn't like "company" or any people coming to the home too often. If people did come, I could see him STRAIN to maintain a friendly upbeat attitude (dying for them to go home so he could "relax") He hated my adult kids and MY family and/or (very few by then), ladyfriends coming over. But in public, he was Mr. Golden Boy.

At home, IN PRIVATE, is where his Public Mask came off. He parked himself in from of his TV (and telephone) in the middle of house, had me bringing him things and reading things and writing things and working the bills and cleaning and errands ALL THE TIME; and gave me NO privacy. If he was in a bad mood or hurting, he acted out terribly but I NEVER knew on which day he'd be going nutso..some days he was calm...(recently I began taking pictures (for his doctor and shrink) of his bizarre behavior--when he found out, he was very ANGRY. He's also an UNtreated Bi Polar (OMG) so readers can "imagine" the hell I was stuck in for 30yrs. In last 3yrs the intensity of his bizarre (manipulating, paranoid, angry, overdosing, name calling) behavior had me reaching out for help--it didn't come, some came too late. I didn't KNOW the terms to use, such as ABUSSIVENESS, or EVEN THAT I was in an abussive relationship with this man and needed help, just spoke of his bizarre all night sometimes weird activities. No One Came--except to say I should find my own apt.?? Um, why not REMOVE HIM? I am painfully disabled now too (which also peeved the narci as now I cant stand up and cook and rush around for him anylonger)He isn't AS Mobility challenged as he lets on. He milks that condition for all it's worth. He's mostly a fraud. You know the type: The person that goes into court wearing a neckbrace after an accident to gain pity from the court in his favor, but his neck is just fine? Yes, well in this one's case He uses a POWER CHAIR for the same effect. Anyone who doesn't know him at home, personally, THINKS his whole world is bound to that chair. It's NOT, not at all.

I'm out of there but the legal wrangling continues.I will never be the same. I'm ruined at 62.

My abuser is a certifiable PSYCHOPATH--has all three of these: Narcissistic PD, Borderline PD, and Anti Social PD.

Thanks again for the article/hub. The thing that caught my eye first, in your piece, is the subject of UTTER self absorbtion by the Narci's. BINGO...I've NEVER seen any human being anywhere as self centered and cold, as this one I just escaped from.

Be well A

Peter on June 24, 2011:

Sane man, you are completely right ! In the beginning of our relation I wanted to end the relation and I tried many times after. She did not want and I had to much pity for her to send her away. Instead, she wanted marry with me. Finally after 6 years of living together, I agreed. She was always a very hard working woman and not lazy. We got two children and some years after the birth of my second child, she secretly had sex with other man. I told her she had to stay with someone else, she had sex with ! She does not want. She wants sex with anonymous men and I think she already got anonymous sex addiction.

Sane Man on June 22, 2011:

"I'd also quickly like to point out that despite common beliefs, there are many different types of narcissist (covert, inverted, somatic, cerebral, spoilt, etc) who display different tendencies caused by alternative variations in the spectrum of abuse" - I agree with this, and also that to some degree most people have narcissistic like tendencies, although I believe they come from a very different place and are usually due to a subconscious fear of death, which triggers survival consciousness, and is not related to the desire for personal gain. I have a friend who has narcissistic qualities, but not to the degree of a personality disorder, and it saddens me because he's essentially a good guy but is very insecure, so hides behind a false bravado, his wounded ego's defence mechanism. But what I will say to Sparkster and Alistair is please don't waist your life being sucked in by a narcissists deception, they will make you believe they love you without a second thought. I've noticed that my father is terrified of losing my mother, because she is his main source of narcissistic supply. She owns two pet chickens and adores them, and I've witnessed my father kicking them like a football when he thinks no one is around, but when he's in front of her he is all super caring and coochy cooing them, and pretending he's concerned about there well being and will even come up with possible reasons and solutions for health problems they have (not mentioning that he's been kicking them up and down the garden). When I observe this, his deception is so convincing, if you didn't know what he'd done you'd never believe in a million years he could harm these chickens. It's just total cold hearted and ruthless manipulation for personal gain, please don't waist your time convincing yourself that deep down they do really care about you, they don't. Find someone who will show you the love and respect you deserve.

Peter on June 20, 2011:

What I forgot to notice is that covert narcissists are indeed the living Zombies on this earth. Only it takes decades to find out that you are married to a Zombie and that she tried to Zombify you as well. And even their own children. I am so very terrified that one of my children will commit suicide after some years, because I see that my son is getting Zombified too. But relation-therapy does not help, because most psychologes are terrible fools and can't look in the soul of a covert narcissist. Okay, I admit it is terrible difficult, because they are extremely closed. Only terrible lyes will escape from theirs lips and once during one session with a psychologe, the psychologe wanted to send me to a psychiater. Nobody can help my family and I am that terrible afraid for my children. The covert narcissistic knows to fool the whole world and especially when they are that pretty as my wife, with her innocent angel-face. Only I know what is behind that very pretty face. She is really charming to anyone, but be careful. She will stab her knife in your back and secretly laugh, while seeing you starving !

Peter on June 20, 2011:

The main characteristic thing about my covert narcissistic wife is that she is completely self-centered, completely selfish, but always could hide this, even for me ! Yes, she has a double life the last 6 years. While at home she was always sexually cold to me (except in the very beginning of our relation), she is having anonymous sex with different men and couples. I like swinger-partys and should like to operate as a couple with my wife with other couples. She told me, she never was interested in this. Until I found out she is doing this all by her own. She is that terrible selfish that she has in fact no real relation with anyone. She is completely busy with her own lusts . I am not jalouse, because in fact she has only physical contact to other people, without any real intimacy. She uses herself as a kind of sexual object to others, without being emotionally involved. In fact she kicks on sexual humiliation, which looks very contradictionary to her very selfish charactar.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on June 11, 2011:

I'd also quickly like to point out that despite common beliefs, there are many different types of narcissist (covert, inverted, somatic, cerebral, spoilt, etc) who display different tendencies caused by alternative variations in the spectrum of abuse.

Sane Man on June 09, 2011:

True Alastair, they will always make their behavior seem reasonable, they are masters of manipulation and deception to such a high degree. To them I don't think they see the world in terms of disordered behavior or being aware of it, life is just a game of survival and gain by any means, appearing saintly, being abusive, it's all the same to them, the truth and lies are just different methods of trying to obtain a desired outcome. So I believe they could become fully aware of their disorder, and still they wouldn't care or desire to change, because they don't feel their behavior is a problem or else they wouldn't do it in the first place. In fact I've heard of Narcissists using their personality disorder as an excuse when confronted about inappropriate behavior. When I first started doing self work and clearing all my repressed subconscious emotions from my childhood, sadly it was after I cleared away guilt that my relationship with my family changed. Because it was guilt, not love as I had previously thought, that kept me linked with them, guilt at what it meant to be a decent human being and a good son. Once the misplaced guilt was gone it became a lot easier to detach myself from them, because their child like behavior of not taking responsibility for their words and actions whilst expecting me to, suddenly didn't trigger anything inside me. So I no longer felt guilty about treating them how they deserved to be treated, and stopped catering to their child like irresponsible behavior. Actually I just found them irritating to be around. This did sadden me, but I guess you can't really love someone who has caused you so much pain, I think this is something to bear in mind, it's not love that keeps a person in an abusive relationship, it's something else, something specific to that relationship. You can very much heal from narcissistic parenting, but you absolutely must identify the subconscious patterns and beliefs you adopted from them as a child, or you will be destined to repeat and project dysfunctional behavior throughout your life. I think some form of breakdown is inevitable if prolonged contact with a narcissist is maintained, as long as the person is unaware that the narcissist has a disorder and instead thinks them to be a well person. I would also say not to get too caught up in trying to understand why they are how they are, from experience I can say you can almost get engulfed in this issue and then start to define yourself in terms of what happened to you, just accept they don't love you and focus on healing yourself so you can move on. I would absolutely recommend cutting off all contact with a narcissist, I know this difficult if there are children involved or whatever, but at least very limited and formal contact is the only way forward, because frankly, what’s the point in being around someone who’s just going to slap you in the face? I agree compassion is very important, and forgiveness, these are very disturbed individuals after all. In fact I find pity is the most common feeling I have for my father, probably the only time in my life I have experienced true pity, because there’s almost a feeling of looking down on him, but not in a judgmental way, more in a way that feels like complete sadness for what he is. Anyway there's so much good stuff in life, dealing with a narcissist is like stepping in shit, it's unpleasant but you don't have to walk around with it all day, just admit the shoes are a write off and buy a new pair, because the smell of shit will always always always be in the air if you keep them hanging around. Good luck.

Alastair on June 07, 2011:

It's appalling, what you suffered, sane man.

I agree, there is a consciousness of transgressions, of boundaries crossed, of behaviours that are not acceptable, in those with narcissistic personality disorder. I know I am fortunate in not having suffered vindictive physical abuse as you have.

And I'm sure that what you write about the impact of violence on children, in terms of their lack of development of empathy, is true. (I'm sure you're aware of Alice Miller's account of Hitler as abuser and abused).

My struggle has been coming to terms with covert (or closet) narcissism in my mum, and a generally highly narcissistic family, in which humiliation and shame were visited on adults and children alike.

But the transgressive behaviours were (at least from my recollection) not obvious, but framed in ways that made them appear reasonable. This is why, I suppose, I focus so heavily on language and everyday pathology. Challenging the hurtful behaviour, which I did as an adult, involved personal breakdown. I know that I have a chance of overcoming disorder, but for my mum there will be no change.

My line of thought in all the above is that real self-awareness in a person with narcissist personality disorder is awareness that one has the disorder.

I maintain that such self-awareness can only come through breakdown and therapy. Of course no individual one suspects of having NPD (overt or covert) that hasn't achieved this degree of self-awareness is going to admit that they have the disorder. And clearly many who are disordered go through life never achieving it, that is, never facing the void and pain of loss of self that underlies this disfiguring mechanism for regulating self-esteem.

Pathological narcissism is compensation for lack of love, lack of real self-love. The proper response to it, after rage and anger and despair, is compassion.

Take care, sane man.

Sane Man on June 07, 2011:

I agree with a lot of what you say Alastair, but I often hear people allude that those with NPD aren't really self aware or conscious of what they are doing. After having had the unfortunate experience of being raised by someone with NPD I can tell you they are absolutely aware of what they are doing. Perhaps they don't know why they are doing it, but they are not automatons, they are sovereign beings just like everyone else. I think people sometimes want to think that the NPD has a lack of awareness due to the fact that their actions are so disturbed it seems impossible to think they could be consciously behaving this way. But to a large degree everyone’s behavior is built on subconscious patterns that create a false self, this doesn’t mean people are unaware of what they are doing and the consequences of their actions. The simple fact is if there wasn't a clear and conscious knowledge that the NPD behavior was in some way unacceptable, then they wouldn't try and hide behind an 'angelic persona', they would just display their behavior and not understand what the problem was. To say that their created false self is only something they conform to consciously as a survival mechanism, would mean that all the time they spend acting atrociously and against this image they would have to be in some sort of unconscious trance, where they were behaving like a drone on auto pilot and have no recollection of what they were doing. I suffered through a lot of physical, emotional and psychological abuse as a child, however almost all of this happened in secret and was saved for when no one was around. My father wanted narcissistic supply so would act like the good parent in front of people, obviously to garner support for his false image, but in these actions he has to be consciously aware that what he was doing to me was deeply inappropriate and would not align peoples view of him as a saintly figure. The very fact that they modulate their own behavior to gain narcissistic support of their grandiose false self image means they have to be aware of what people consider as grandiose, or saintly or perfect and what people consider as against these principles. In fact they are so obsessed with how people perceive them you would have to say they are hyper aware of their actions and behavior, because everything is calculated to a much higher degree when attempting to control or manipulate a situation. I would say they are hyper self conscious in terms of what they are doing. I’ve actually seen my father’s persona shift depending on who walks into the room whilst he’s mid conversation, such was his level of awareness at how he was being perceived. My first memory of him was when I asked if I could smell his deodorant he sprayed it in my face, getting it in my eye. He once hit me in the face because I was sat somewhere where he didn’t want me to be sitting. These were all conscious actions and are the sort of behavioral modalities that encourage people to demonize and call these people evil. But the fact is these were conscious actions with a clear and calculated outcome in mind, he wanted to intimidate and dominate me as a way of controlling me, which amongst it’s benefits would include giving him a masochistic sense of power. So why? And how is this possible to be a conscious behavior? I recently read a scientific study which helped to explain the rise of tolerance towards the atrocities in Nazi Germany. In this paper it showed that if a baby is violently struck the first time it cries, brain scans reveal that the structure in the brain that allows people to empathize will fail to develop properly and can be as much as 70% smaller than in people with healthy brain function. What this means is an adult who simply doesn’t care about others, doesn’t care about causing pain or suffering, doesn’t care about lying to people, doesn’t care about cynically manipulating people, because they don’t feel any empathy or have the ability to care about others, all that’s left is complete self preservation and self gain without any of the constraints that act as a fail-safe against this type of selfish behavior. Unfortunately for the Germans the leading author on parental management in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s advocated this treatment of children as he claimed that hitting the baby once straight away would stop it from crying in the future. 40 years later they have a nation full of people willing to commit crimes such as genocide, and they adopt belief systems such as being the superior master race, so we have a complete lack of empathy towards others and a superiority complex, just like the narcissist. The Nazi’s knew exactly what they were doing, they just didn’t care and saw a chance for massive gain, just like the narcissist. I would consider a narcissist to be one level below a psychopath, psychopaths are fully aware of what they are doing, but they are wired up differently so don’t feel the same way about the horrible things they do as healthy people do. So in my experience and opinion, it’s not that the narcissist isn’t fully aware that their false self is dysfunctional, it’s just that they don’t have the built in inhibitors that stop most people acting this way, such as empathy. They know what they are doing is wrong, they just don’t care because for them it doesn’t feel wrong, and therefore they only care about the benefits they can obtain by acting this way.

Marc Hubs (author) from United Kingdom on May 29, 2011:

Thanks Alistair, you have provided a lot of insight into the underlying subconscious mechanisms that contribute towards the behaviours caused by this disorder and I don't think I could have put it any better.

It's difficult to explain in logical terms how deep-routed this disorder is without completely contradicting yourself which is simply another ingenius way that a narcissist can manipulate - you state one thing about them, then state completely the oppositte and even though both may be true to some extent you're the one who's left looking like the liar.

In terms of psychology the sub-conscious mind feeds the conscious mind and vice versa, it's the way the human mind works and it has to happen. However, in narcissists the sub-conscious has usually taken over and they go through life on 'auto-pilot' so to speak but this doesn't change the fact that all thoughts and behaviours must be held in a person's consciousness at some point in order to be processed or acted upon. Sure this may be pulled direct from the subsconscious without awareness but the mechanisms must have been planted in the subconscious in the first place via direct consciousness.

In terms of personal experience, my (covert) narcissistic partner made it clear that she is well aware of her traits although 99% of the time she displays denial which is one of the main characteristics of the disorder therefore denial of their traits and denial of awareness of their traits are inevitable. This is simple because they are so ashamed of them, deep down inside they know exactly what they are so they create a false angelic self-image that they can be proud of.

However, upon threatening to leave a narcissist they become so obsessed with upholding this self-image to others who haven't figured them out that they commonly admit and accept their flaws and claim 'I can change' seemingly and suddenly becoming consciously aware of their traits. They were aware all the time, they were just in denial.