The Different Faces of Narcissism: Types and Sub-Types
There tends to be some confusion amongst readers on the basic template of a narcissist. I write a lot about a certain type, mainly the Somatic boomerang Narcissist, because it is the type you will most commonly run into in the dating world. But it raises a lot of confusion and questions for people who are involved with other types of Narcissists. There are certain types and subtypes of Narcissists and I thought a little clarification might be in order.
Cerebral and Somatic
I think most people have a firm grasp on the difference between the two, but for those that don’t, here is a short definition of the two main types:
Like the word cerebral implies, a cerebral narcissists has a profound belief that they have a superior intellect, that their intelligence far exceeds that of ordinary folk. They have a vast array of knowledge on just about any topic. They tell stories (real or made up) exemplifying their colossal brilliance. They are quick to point out the failings of others, often showing a great amount of disdain for those of lesser intelligence. Their Narcissistic Supply is generated through their intellect. Their audience admires their wit, stories and superior intelligence.
Somatic Narcissists are consumed with their physical beauty and prowess. You will often find somatics working hard at the gym, or on their appearance in some fashion or another. Somatics derive their Narcissistic supply from the reactions of others to their appearance, or sexual conquests. You will often find a long list of sexual partners in their repertoire.
Many researchers believe that Narcissists are both cerebral and somatic with one being dominant and the other recessive. The type that becomes dominant is the one that was most valued in childhood.
At some point in their lives a Narcissist could be somatic and after some life changing event, they can become cerebral, or vice versa.
Narcissists and sex
I don’t care if you are with a cerebral or a somatic, sex with a Narcissist is just plain, old weird. My long-term Narcissist was a Cerebral/Inverted Narcissist. When I first met him, he described himself as a-sexual and told me that he didn’t need it. When we were intimate, it was routine, mechanical and boring, with long stretches of abstinence in between.
Sex with a Somatic Narcissist tends to be better, but only because this is the way that they derive their Narcissistic Supply. I even had one tell me that they didn’t want to be thought of, as someone that couldn’t please a woman.
Both are robotic and unemotional. While there maybe some cuddle time during the aftermath, the act and the bonding afterwards lack the subtle nuances of authentic attachment and love-making.
Due to the way they derive their esteem Somatics have a hard time remaining faithful. Cerebrals, due to their lack of interest in sex, can remain faithful and in long term relationships.
The Subtypes – The Overt Narcissist and the Covert Narcissist
Depending upon their personality and the type and or level of childhood abuse, a Cerebral and a Somatic can be either an Overt or an Inverted Narcissist, all of which is based on their levels of insecurity and their ability to hide them. Narcissists can be introverted, shy, little balls of hate, or they can be extroverted.
When I think of an overt Narcissist I think of the character played by Julia Robert’s husband in Sleeping with the Enemy. This is the type of Narcissism that most people think of when they think of a Narcissist.
The overt Narcissist must always be in control. They are always right. They don’t hide their expectations that everything must always be all about them and done their way. They have massive egos and they aren’t afraid to show it. This type can verbally or physically slice you to ribbons and feel not an ounce of remorse or guilt. They can be seen as over confident, but it becomes a pathology when the behaviors are way over the top. They are extroverts – their personalities like their sense of entitlement is large, loud, obvious and oppressive.
A Covert Narcissist is a Narcissist who, to the outside world, appears to be kind, altruistic and full of integrity, but they save their rage, extreme selfishness and cruelty for their nearest and dearest. They could be your religious leaders, teachers, counselors, politicians, anyone in a position with some authority or power. Covert Narcissists are very good at pretending. They pretend in order to get what they want, be it power, success, money, fame. They are the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The Parasitic Narcissist
I struggled to appropriately classify my long term narcissist for a long time, thinking as many do that if they weren’t loud and extroverted that they weren’t Narcissists. The definitions available on-line can be difficult to understand as well.
So let’s clear this up. A Parasitic Narcissist is a narcissist who exhibits all of the traits of Narcissism as outlined in the DSM-IV, however this type wants to be taken care of. They lead a parasitic lifestyle, feeding off of their host, and anyone that provides them the opportunity.
They don’t want responsibility. They look for strong, intelligent, successful partners that can run the show, while they don’t contribute and have an, ‘it’s all about me’ party.
They will usually have some type of ailment that they need to nurse, or need you to nurse, which is the reason why they can’t ever be what you want them to be. You may even find them involved with an Overt Narcissist.
The Boomerang Narcissist
Like the name implies the Boomerang Narcissist is one who is constantly popping in and out of your life. They offer very little in the way of believable excuses, but their co-dependent partners keep taking them back. They usually have several other partners they are involved with and bounce from one to the other when it suits them or something is expected of them. These types usually have a harem they can choose from, whom they feed bits and pieces of attention and affection to – just enough to keep them emotionally invested in them.
Classes of Narcissism
We can even break it down further into classes. Taking the criteria for Narcissism from the DSM-IV, we can classify them as showing a tendency to exaggerate certain behaviors more than others. For instance, some will embellish their accomplishments, while others may be consumed with the concept of finding romantic love, and others might be more interested in behaving in duplicitous ways, conning and using others. Here is the list of behaviors, some of which tend to be more dominant than others.
– Exaggerate their accomplishments
– Obsessed with their uniqueness
– Consumed with finding romantic love
– Excessive entitlement behaviors
– Devious and exploitative
– Obsessed with fame and success
– Believe they should get special treatment
– Behave in a selfish and uncaring manner
– Cannot relate to others feelings and desires
– Behave in an envious or jealous manner
– Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner
– Excessively concerned with how they are perceived by others
– Excessive need to have high status friends or other status symbols to impress others.
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