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Covert Narcissism Is Not Inverted Narcissism (Narcissistic Personality Disorder/NPD)

Updated on March 24, 2015
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Marc Hubs is a writer/researcher on mind, science, and conspiracy. He is the author of "Know Your Enemy: Reflections of NPD."

Image: Public Domain
Image: Public Domain | Source

Malignant Self-Love

Upon attempting to find out more information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and in particular, covert narcissism and inverted narcissism, many people find themselves confused by the fact that there seems to be so much conflicting information on the internet about these two subtypes of the personality disorder.

Many writers and researchers on the topic often come to the conclusion that covert narcissism and inverted narcissism are the same thing - they are not.

The reason for many of these myths and misconceptions about NPD is due to the fact that certain writers, researchers and experts on the topic have either been misinformed or have misunderstood the origins of the terms and how the Narcissistic Personality Disorder works and, as a result, have further spread this misinformation.

Additionally, some writers on the topic of NPD have intentionally distorted the truth about these two subtypes of narcissism, in order to portray their own narcissism in a more positive light (denial) and to purposely confuse and obfuscate (manipulate) the issue.

Origins Of The Terms

Many, perhaps even most, writers on the subject of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, are wrongly under the impression that inverted narcissism (a term coined by Sam Vaknin) was previously referred to as covert narcissism - it wasn't.

Rather, the previous term to describe inverted narcissism was actually co-narcissism, which is short for co-dependent narcissism and has nothing whatsoever to do with covert narcissism - co-narcissism did not need another name, or label, yet writers such as Sam Vaknin have attempted to (falsely) relabel it as covert narcissism, in order to purposely misinform about the disorder.

To add further confusion to the misinformation, Alan Rappaport claimed to have coined the term co-narcissism in 2005, despite the fact that Alexander Lowen and Elan Golomb had already originally used the term in the 1990s in their written material in order to describe co-dependent narcissism (which is not the same as Dependent Personality Disorder).

Co-narcissism and inverted narcissism, as aforementioned, are the same thing. Co-narcissism did not need to be given a new name, yet Sam Vaknin still decided to coin the term inverted narcissism to explain it then further confused the issue by attempting to say that it was previously referred to as covert narcissism (which is inaccurate), rather than the real term which was co-narcissism. Covert narcissists are not co-dependent, shy or inverted; they are far from it, in fact.

Why is this important?

Because many people who are victims of various types of narcissistic abuse often turn to the internet for help and advice, seeing as they have nowhere else or anyone else to turn to.

Yet rather than finding helpful information about the tough situation they are facing in their lives, they end up becoming even more confused than they were in the first place and a lot of them end up believing that they are not actually dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder because the descriptions don't fit their experiences when, in actual fact, they probably are dealing with NPD in their lives.

Victims of narcissistic abuse do not need more confusion in their lives - they need clarification about what they are truly dealing with so they can learn how to accept it, deal with it and begin their recovery process.

Unfortunately, just as many different terms have been coined in order to explain co-narcissism, this is also true for covert narcissism which also has several terms which are used to describe it. The same goes for most other types of narcissism also. Other names for covert narcissism include stealth narcissism and closet narcissism. For clarification, I have outline the terms and their meanings below:

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Know Your Enemy: Reflections Of NPD by Sparkster Hubs
Know Your Enemy: Reflections Of NPD by Sparkster Hubs | Source

Other Terms

I, myself, have also coined two terms which relate to malignant narcissism (or malignant self-love).

However, I did not coin these terms in order to explain any particular subtype of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Rather, I coined the terms to describe two specific and very significant types of narcissistic abuse which need to be acknowledged and addressed.

The first type of narcissistic abuse is often perpetrated by covert narcissists themselves whereas the second type of narcissistic abuse is usually carried out by a covert narcissist's unwitting army of pawns (otherwise known as flying monkeys):

Covert psychological murder and Mental rape.

Covert narcissism

Also sometimes called closet narcissism or stealth narcissism. Covert narcissists are often predatory in nature, highly manipulative and extremely controlling.

They resort to emotional blackmail, mental abuse and financial abuse, ostracizing their victims in the process yet they do it so stealthily, privately and under-cover that no-one has any clue that they are a narcissist.

Not even the victim can pick up on the abuse, which is carried out by undermining their perception.


Also sometimes called co-dependent narcissism or inverted narcissism. Co-narcissists are often self-destructive people who seek to be dependent on a classic narcissist, so that they can continue to avoid taking responsibility for themselves.

They will willingly remain in an abusive relationship with a classic narcissist in return for the classic narcissist taking all responsibility for them and will allow themselves to be controlled and manipulated. Co-narcissists often display avoidant behaviours, which is why they would rather be co-dependent.

Classic narcissism

Also sometimes called elite narcissism, classic narcissists are often rich, successful entrepreneurs.

They may portray themselves as being "as good as gold" by regularly donating large sums of money to charity yet in reality, when it comes to business, they are ruthless and will walk over anyone who stands in the way of getting what they want.

They may also use people as pawns in order to get what they want, then discard them with no empathy once they have achieved those desires.

© 2015 Marc Hubs


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    • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Hubs 

      3 years ago from United Kingdom

      In general, no. It's not completely impossible but it is extremely rare. I also think it's important to distinguish between being a co-narcissist and being an empath (or empathist).

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Can a co-dependent narcissist be cured?

    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 

      4 years ago from Alberta

      This is fascinating! I never knew there are multiple types of narcissism.

    • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Hubs 

      4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you both! Indeed there are varying types of narcissism. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding covert narcissism and co-narcissism. Many people believe that narcissists are either cerebral or somatic - this isn't always the case.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

      Bill Tollefson 

      4 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Very good HUB on this subject. Keep sharing your ideas with other. I learned a lot on narcissism.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      Hi, fascinating look at the different forms of Narcissism. I didn't realise that there were differences, but either way it's a horrible thing to be on the end of so to speak, I am sure we have all been in contact with these people over our lifetimes, great read, and really interesting! nell


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