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Ep: 16 What Are Signs of A Covert Narcissist?

Ep: 16 Transcript


Welcome to another episode of Medium Well with Psychic Sharyn Rose. We are continuing our fascinating talk on narcissism. Today we are going to narrow it down for you and explore the world of the covert narcissist. How can you recognize them? Well, it’s important that you do so because Christmas time is the perfect time for the covert narcissist to appear. So how are you gonna be able to deal with them this holiday season? Well, let’s find out. Let’s welcome Sharyn and get started.

A photo of a jealous cat

What Are Signs Of A Covert Narcissist?

Welcome back to Medium Well with Psychic Sharyn Rose! I’m Sharyn. And as I mentioned in the last week’s podcast, I want to continue on with Narcissism. And today we’re going to talk about how to know you’re dealing with a covert narcissist. And the reason I want to just start with covert is simply because the covert narcissist is more common – I believe – in our society. Covert narcissism is not malignant, they’re not meaning to hurt, they’re not out to harm and destroy. They’re not loud and boastful. They’re not braggarts out there throwing themselves in everybody’s business. A covert narcissist is just one of the many types of narcissism, but they share many of the same narcissistic traits. They just tend to be quieter and more shy than the overt. So the overt would be the manipulative, the grandiose, the bragger, the and the harmful too, in many cases. But that being said, that can be as dangerous and manipulative, so it’s important to recognize the covert – what it is and how to deal with them. When I say dangerous, it’s about manipulation – it’s always is about manipulation with any narcissism. The work I’m studying here, the work I’m using to study from, is work from Craig Malkin, who’s a PhD. And Daniel Fox, PhD. And as I mentioned earlier in my previous podcast, I follow the experts. I don’t make this stuff up. I don’t get it off the local news station. I don’t just read anything – I research. And research to me is going where the facts are and people who have actually studied these disorders. Narcissism runs a spectrum. So there’s the narcissist next door, who’s the gentle kind of narcissism versus the overt malignant, nasty narcissism. Now don’t get me wrong. Covert narcissism does sometimes include the malignant. For example, a narcissistic mother, who is jealous of her daughter can have malignant impact on that daughter’s life. And just to give you some feedback on narcissistic parents… narcissistic mothers that are covert, or malignant – it doesn’t really matter – but a narcissistic mother will tend to have a golden child or golden children in the home, and they will also have their empaths in the home. And the golden child is the one without boundaries without borders. A lot of narcissists don’t have boundaries, they don’t have borders. And so what happens is, they don’t know where to begin or where to stop. And that’s because they were the golden children. They were given everything and anything they wanted – you speak I obey. So narcissism, although it can be genetic, really starts to come from the way you’re treated as a child. And the empathics that grow up under narcissistic parents, they have oftentimes come out wanting to help, wanting to serve, wanting to take care of, and will develop to some degree their psychic abilities very strongly too, because they need to keep eyes in the back of their head so they know what’s going on just to survive when they’re children.

What Is A Covert Narcissist Attracted To?

Let’s go back to what Craig Malkin – Dr. Craig Malkin says in his description of a covert narcissist. He says, it’s also called a vulnerable narcissist, or hypersensitive narcissist. Covert narcissists feel special, because they believe their pain is more important than others. (And he’s also a Harvard lecturer and a psychologist.) They may feel like the most misunderstood genius, the person who’s suffering the most, or even the ugliest person in the room, because they will go on these little pity parties for themselves. People with narcissistic personality disorders (NPD) are addicted to feeling special. And in the case of the covert narcissist, their “specialness” derives from experiencing – at least in their mind – the most intolerable or unique suffering. So, that just tells you that covert narcissists believe their pain greater than everyone else’s. Their joy is greater than everyone else’s. Anything they have is greater than everyone else’s. And people better notice them. And that’s really what it’s all about. And they’ll say things like, I’ve suffered more than anyone has ever suffered before! And this is from licensed psychologist Daniel Fox, he says, they expect others to understand how hurt they are and how much pain they’re experiencing when in the grand scheme of things, their suffering is usually pretty mild.

Why Do Covert Narcissists Need Control?

So here’s how to identify a covert narcissist. Now, the reason I’m addressing this now – it’s December the 15th, 2021 – we’re coming into the Christmas season. Almost all of us have someone with some degree of narcissism in our families. And when our families get together, we have to put up with these people. And it could be a parent, it could be a sibling. Often if it’s a parent, a lot of times in fact, the golden children of narcissistic parents become narcissistic, simply because they pick up the traits. They learn the behaviors from that parent, and they like getting their way all the time. So the true signs of a covert narcissist, they believe they’re uniquely miserable. So when they have a bad day, their day is way worse than anybody else’s could possibly ever be. Know anybody like that? Unlike the overt grandiose, who often come across as confident and grandiose, covert narcissists tend to be more insecure and self effacing. They put themselves down a lot. They don’t generally feel good about themselves at all. And they agree with statements like, I feel I’m temporarily different from most people. “Temporarily different from most people.” Another thing is, they think they’re superior to others, even if they’re quiet about it. They don’t say anything. Covert narcissists contend to be shy, but this shyness may come from a quiet sense of superiority. Or secret grandiosity, so they feel like they’re better and above the rest of the world. They don’t say anything about it. It’s a secret. And that’s according to the American Journal of Psychiatry. May also stem from their deep insecurities because most of the insecurities that come through narcissism are deep, and they’re generally formed in childhood. Number 3, for the narcissist – the covert narcissist – they’re constantly jealous. Now I can’t tell you how many narcissists I’ve run into in my lifetime. This was the first red flag. It’s what I recognized immediately. Covert narcissists tend to be envious of other people’s talents, possessions, and capacity for deep relationships. Now remember, deep relationships elude the narcissist because they really don’t understand intimacy or love. They pretend it, they mimic it, they mirror it, they fake it. But they really are jealous when you truly are able to get close to somebody. Fox explains, because entitlement is one aspect of NPD, covert narcissists believe they deserve what other people have. And they tend to get jealous when they don’t get it. Vulnerable or covert narcissists are vulnerable narcissists will oftentimes connect themselves in a relationship to someone they see as powerful and joyful and lovely and loving and successful with possessions and, and great talent. And then they will be envious of them and they will from the inside out, attempt to break them down. They’ll do it by withholding kindness, they’ll withhold intimacy – which they don’t like anyways – they’ll withhold sex, that’s one of the tools that they’ll actually use. They’re unable to build meaningful relationships. So according to the American Journal of Psychiatry, covert narcissists have an unrealistic and extremely fragile sense of self. And that leads to a lack of engagement in the world. I’ve seen a narcissistic personalities who are really comfortable in their workspace. And they do very well with their especially if they’re in a sales position. They do extremely well dealing with their clients and customers because they feel very secure and comfortable in their knowledge. They’re very intelligent, by the way. Narcissistic personalities are generally extremely intelligent. And they are really good in their trade craft profession. And they’re very comfortable at work. And nobody would in a million years even believe that they were narcissistic by nature. They just, they wouldn’t believe it, because they’re able to, through their ability to be knowledgeable and use surface techniques they’ve seen others use to fake relationships inside the workspace.

What Is A Relationship Like With A Covert Narcissist?

So again, back to intimacy and back to sexual relationships. They don’t see the two the same. Intimacy is where you get close, you gaze into each other’s eyes – they can’t stand having their eyes looked into by the way, they really don’t like it. Intimacy just eludes them all together. They’ll have sex, but they’ll only have sex to have sex and there’s a method to their madness. It’s not because they want to be close to you or they want to love you or they’re proving their love to you. If they decide they don’t like you or they’re mad at you, you’ve done something to tick them off or you’ve got something they want, then withhold that. So it eludes them. Intimacy in any way eludes them. The lack of engagement that they feel in the world, combined with a general lack of empathy – which is common – they can’t be empathetic. Makes it nearly impossible for covert narcissists to connect with others in any meaningful way. So if you think about this, now, there’s somebody out there that is actually really insecure in their ability to build friendships, their ability to socialize, their ability to build intimate relationships. When they see someone that has those skills, and they’re drawn to them, like a moth to a flame, flies to honey. They will be drawn to them and they will want to get married and involved right away with that, that particular person, because that is their supply. Through that person. They can live vicariously and play out their own dramas their own dreams, through the other person’s successes, possessions, skills, abilities to engage in the world. I’ve seen narcissistic people who are are incredibly talented in their own way. But when they go to an social environment where they’re not around a lot of people they know, they sit in the corner, they really don’t engage. They don’t know how to engage with people who are strangers, unless it’s in their workplace. And unless they have the knowledge and they’re looked at as the senior superior. That’s why sales is so good for a narcissist, because they are superior to the client. They know things are going to tell the client and they feel really, really good about that. Because they’re telling somebody that doesn’t know something they know, the covert or the vulnerable, they tend to be passive aggressive. So that’s that push pull. Passive aggression is a very common trait amongst coverts. Like any other narcissist, the covert can be antisocial and can be mean spirited, especially if they’re mild level of malignancy there. But, Fox says, they’re quieter nature means that these behaviors are usually passive aggressive, as opposed to openly aggressive. So they can be mean through a passive aggressive behavior, which is really kind of a difficult thing to do. They’re hypersensitive to criticism. They absolutely cannot handle criticism, they have a complete and total inability, even if they aren’t being criticized, they just think they are. And they have a total inability to handle criticism and it’s a telltale sign of covert narcissism. The covert narcissist tends to wear their heart on their sleeve, Fox says, and is that often easily wounded, they might then use this offense as a way to get attention from others, or present themselves as a victim, which can happen an awful lot as well. And they like boundaries. Now a lot of times they like boundaries, because they were not taught boundaries when they were young. Because covert narcissists believe their experiences are more important or more difficult than other people’s, they’ll often call you all the time to talk about how hard life is for them, and how much they suffer. Fox says, they tend to do this with a complete disregard for your side of the conversation or your time.

Do Narcissists Avoid Intimacy?

Covert narcissists – back to intimacy – they really aren’t interested in what your needs are, if you’re their partner. And when it comes to sexuality, they’re not interested in what your needs are. They don’t care. They’re not even going to ask you. They know what their needs are, they know what they want. And that’s where their focus is. So when you have a partner like that, that’s not much of a partnership. And a lot of people, a lot of relationships, marriages, etc. don’t last. They just don’t whether that type of behavior, how to deal with a covert. There’s some really good techniques here because you know, something, they are lovable. narcissists are lovable. They just aren’t loving. So if you really are in love with a covert narcissist, there’s some techniques here I’m going to give to you. And remember this when you get to your covert narcissist or your vulnerable narcissists that are going to show up at Christmas. Recognize that their comments have nothing to do with you. Covert narcissists often vacillate wildly between being demanding, wanting you to pay attention to their every word, and objectively miserable, often suicidal. And that is a fact when they get that depressed or down. And to manage these difficult emotions, it’s important to truly understand certain truths, so you know that they’re not your fault. And that’s huge. Recognize their comments have nothing to do with you is one of the first, first ways to deal with a narcissist. If you’re dealing with an ex, or even a current relationship, Fox says, they already see you as this horrible person, which means it doesn’t matter what you say or do. They’re only thinking about how they were wronged in the first place. You’ll have to realize these comments that they’re making – they’re not about you. He says, they’re coming from an individual whose behaviors you can’t change. And the most important thing to understand about any level of narcissism is you cannot change them. You can choose to live with them, or without them, but you cannot change them. Don’t allow yourself to be offended. And you know what this is easier said than done. But insulating yourself from hurtful comments is important. You have to be a duck in the rain. And let those arguments or backhanded statements roll off your back. You’re never going to win an argument or get to the point where they admit you’re right. So learn to let it go. You know, they’re just not going to get there unless you absolutely catch them out. Okay? And even then they’ll still say, you know, you say, this guy is really blue today, and they’re like no, it’s great? Okay, don’t engage in their lies. Narcissists of all types are often delusional. They live in a fictitious world and they don’t see reality the way that a normal neurological brain sees reality – and it truly is brain process. They’re often delusional and believe in their own sources of data. And Fox says, they usually find people with low self esteem or people who will fall for their lies. And those lies may be personal, intended to insult or belittle you, or more general – intended to make them feel knowledgeable. Either way, if you don’t engage, they can’t win.

Are Covert Narcissists Insecure?

Do you remember what I said earlier on, that a sales person that’s got narcissism, especially vulnerable ot covert, and they are really intelligently connected to their craft or their trade, or their profession. And they’re very knowledgeable in their field when they have a client come to them. There’s a sense of power that It comes with that. They’re excellent salespeople because they already have all the information and they like to feel knowledgeable. Acknowledge their true motivations out loud. Okay, this is really interesting. Covert narcissists are even more uncomfortable with their obvious insecurities than overt narcissist. Now you know the difference – overts, the grandiose loud braggarts, coverts are more vulnerable shy. Okay? So they tend to use a tactic called, “projective identification.’ Malkin is explaining this: Think of it like a game of emotional Hot Potato, with feelings of insecurity. They say or do things to make you feel off balance, insecure or uncomfortable so they can feel more in control, or knowledgeable. So if a covert narcissist is micromanaging you, or belittling your abilities out of their own potential anxieties, Malkin recommends blocking the pass by saying something like, You seem really worried about my work today, more so than usual. Are you feeling nervous about something?” That will disarm them, whether they admit to it or more likely reject it, can help you feel more secure. Acknowledging the true source of their doubt might remind you that you’re not inferior, which is what they want you to believe. So the bottom line in regards to covert narcissists is, it’s best to think of narcissism as a trait or a pervasive universal human tendency. As I said earlier, exists on a spectrum, and the drive is to feel special, exceptional or unique. And let’s face it, or to stand out from the other 7 billion people on the planet in some way. We all want that. We all want that to some degree. I love the work that I do. And I like standing out and being a little bit different. That’s why I work so hard at creating new programs. I work so hard at being a problem solver and a solution seeker for my clients. And I love the empathic aspect of myself which I learned as a child through dealing with a covert malignant, covert narcissist.

Can A Covert Narcissist Love Their Partner?

Covert narcissism and overt narcissism. There’s tons of examples of narcissism on the website, you can get all kinds of information. But the information that I provided for you here was from Craig Malkin, Dr. Craig Malkin, who’s a psychologist and Harvard lecturer, and Daniel Fox, who’s a licensed psychologist. And how they – actually I haven’t found any of their books at this point – but I did find their work all over the place in regards to referencing covert narcissism. So watch out for things like jealousy, that they really feel sad for, and sorry for themselves – those pity pot. They will present themselves as being better than others, they tend to lie. That’s one thing that all narcissists tend to do. They have a difficult time building intimate, meaningful relationships. And they tend to be hyper aggressive, but they also cannot deal with criticism, and they lack boundaries. Now, if you think about those traits, not too many golden children had a lot of criticism when they were growing up. So they become hypersensitive to criticism. They do become passive aggressive, they like boundaries. So as a parent out there, those of you that are parenting children, and it could usually be the youngest, in many cases youngest, or the second youngest in the family. If you are not disciplining your children and giving them guidance to become fully fledged, well rounded human beings – as adults – teaching them the basic thank you’s and please and good manners and stand up, let an adult or senior have your chair, or being selfish. Because one of the things with golden children is there’s this level of selfishness that they’re taught is acceptable and okay. Now you have to try and change that, as an adult, that’s really hard. That’s a value that you’ve built in. And it’s really hard to shift that. So if you’re a parent, and you’re spoiling your child by letting them lead, they run your households. Okay? These children run your households. They’re the temper tantrum kids, okay? If that’s going on in your household, get some help. Don’t bring that child into a world where they’re going to be the narcissist because they’re not going to have a great life. Get some help with your parenting skills. Because if you can up the game there, you can up the survivability of a normal life for your children. Girls or boys – doesn’t matter. The world’s not picky.

Why Do Covert Narcissists Need Control?

And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about today – a covert narcissist. As you can tell, I’ve got a bit of a raspy voice. It’s been difficult doing these podcasts lately because my voice is coming and going. And next time, we’re going to dig a little bit deeper into the overt or the grandiose narcissist. And I’ll see you next week with that topic. You take care. Everybody getting ready for Christmas! Enjoy. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye-bye for now!


Jennifer Gunson 19:36
Thank you for listening to another episode of Medium Well with Psychic Sharyn Rose. If you love hearing Sharyn’s stories and her advice and want to work with her – all you have to do is go to her website, That’s Sharyn with a “Y”. And if you want to enroll in her next session of Kitchen Witchen – which of course is starting in the new year, January 3rd, 2022 – well, registration is now open! You can find more information in how to register on our website Talk to you next time!

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