Beware of the covert introverted female narcissist
Most introverts are terrific people. However, there’s another type of introvert that who are just as exploitative, unemphatic and entitled as their extrovert counterpart.
In our media age, unless you’ve been living on a rock, we’ve all heard about selfies and narcissism. Glamourous photographs of beautiful men or women that adorn some social media profiles, media articles and TV programs show just how widespread this cultural phenomenon of narcissism has become.
However, while TV programs and articles have focused mainly on extroverted narcissists, the introverted version of the narcissist has largely slipped under the radar. Introvert narcissists are also known as covert narcissists, closet narcissists or hypersensitive narcissists.
So, let’s clarify who doesn’t fit under the umbrella of an introverted narcissist and who does.
Most introverts are not narcissists. Many introverts can also be shy and empathetic. These people are the exact opposite of the introverted narcissist. Most introverts don’t have enough ‘healthy narcissism.’
So, you may be thinking to yourself that if narcissism can be healthy, it can’t be dangerous, right? Wrong! According to Dr. Craig Malkin, research shows that introverted narcissists are just as exploitative and lacking in empathy as their extroverted counterparts.
Perhaps so, however, as so many victims of narcissists know—coverts are often hard to detect. Some of them may be your parents or someone else you know. These people often command the respect of outsiders. Yet, these same people present a cruel face to you behind closed doors.
But before I move on, I’d like to clarify an important issue. This article uses the term introverted narcissist rather than covert narcissist. Although it takes time to discover the inner core of the introverted narcissist, many extroverted narcissists display covert traits, and many introverted narcissists have overt characteristics. This idea is supported by the research.
What signs should I look out for?
So if you suspect that you’ve worked or you are working with a narcissist, the top three signs to identify them, according to Dr Craig Malkin, author of Rethinking Narcissism, are:
Lack of empathy – They’re only interested in themselves. They’re literally incapable of knowing or caring about you feel. They continually carp on about themselves, such is their level of self-absorption. They don’t listen to alternative views, including perfectly reasonable, well-argued perspectives.
Entitlement – They believe that they’re a special class of persons. They may see themselves as special, as misunderstood geniuses who haven’t been accepted by others for their immense talents. They’re just as entitled as their extroverted counterparts.
Exploitative – They exploit others unfairly to get what they want. And while we perceive women to be nurturing and caring, introverted female narcissists aren’t carers or nurturers at all, unless it suits them to be perceived that way. They also aren’t above using Machiavellian traits to get what they want. Far from it.
Some introverted narcissists are shy. They may seem shy, but over time, you’ll notice that they engage increasingly in passive-aggressive behaviour. They may make sly remarks, make victims feel like they’re stupid or they may shame and blame their victims for their mistakes.
‘They know it all’ – forget trying to convince them of the worth of your ideas, because you’ll only get shot down. Even if you know they’ve said something that is totally wrong, there’s no healthy way to question their ridiculous statements.
They’re exceptionally good at portraying themselves as vulnerable victims to hook people. They may also seem aloof, disinterested, judgemental or condescending, and this draws people in. They also like to flaunt their vulnerability, perhaps by crying. They’re more special than anyone else.
They could use shyness as flattery (which is fake) and charm to reel you in and identify your vulnerabilities. So if they detect that you’re conscientious, loyal, empathetic and from a dysfunctional home – bingo! You’re the perfect target.
“The negativity-seeking” magnet – these people are literally like a dark cloud. They’re never short of things to complain about. They may carp and complain about a person or group of persons who’ve frustrated them or failed to recognise their brilliance. Beware the embittered work colleague with a pathological obsession and an axe to grind. This could be a prelude to workplace sabotage says Ambrose (2002).
In addition, introverted female narcissists can be highly sensitive. They can feel affronted by non-existent threats. For example, a vulnerable narcissist imagine that a colleague is scheming to get the narcissists job.
In short, introverted narcissists are still a seething morass of resentment and hatred, and heaven help anyone who stands in their way!
How did they come to be an introverted narcissists?
Overt narcissists were generally raised as the golden child. Introverted narcissists were usually abused or neglected.
While it’s sad that narcissists are how they are, it’s also a reflection of our society. Narcissists are products of lousy parenting, which comes in many forms: indulgence, neglect or abuse. However, faulty parenting doesn’t excuse anyone’s poor behaviour ever!
We do as a society need a more nuanced understanding the range of personalities out there. The problem isn’t just the flashy narcissists or the psychopaths. There are also people with a combination of psychopathy, narcissism and the dark triad out there inflicting harm—real harm on innocent people.
If we did, we’d have this understanding; it’s likely we’d select better co-workers and better partners.