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7 Types of Narcissism And How To Spot Them

Narcissism has increasingly become a very popular word these days for labeling someone’s personality and high-conflict behavior. So before we get into this post we will clarify a few facts.

  • Are all narcissistic traits negative? No, in fact, some narcissism is healthy in becoming driven and successful. Some are also very generous and caring.

  • Does someone with narcissistic traits mean they have a personality disorder? No, some people have traits but this does not mean they have a personality disorder. To clinical diagnosis someone they have to have patterns of behavior that meet the criteria in the DSM-5. And, the person has to meet at least 5 out of 9 behaviors.

    • grandiosity and self-importance

    • fantasies of success, perfection, or power

    • a strong conviction of being special and unique

    • a need for admiration and praise

    • entitlement

    • a pattern of exploiting others for personal gain

    • low empathy

    • envy, jealousy, and distrust

    • arrogance, haughtiness, and scorn

If your co-parent has behaviors of narcissism, it can have its challenges when co-parenting because they often put their needs before the children. They also tend to seek out power struggles solely to “win” at the expense of others, even their own children. They may weaponize the children against you by coercing you into decisions. They may even withhold the children or finances so you struggle to stay afloat. They could even seek out flying monkeys in the community to bad mouth you only to save their ego. But the truth is those closest to you that matter often know their true colors.

While every high-conflict co-parent isn’t a narcissist, it is important to understand the behaviors you may be dealing with so you can learn the tools to better navigate them. We believe that if you educate yourself as we have, you can become more aware of your experiences, making it easier to set boundaries and protect yourself. The stronger your mindset, the easier it is to navigate their antics and your emotions. Want to learn how to co-parent with a high-conflict personality type?

Check out our online Collaborative Co-parenting Course to learn all the fundamental communications skills when co-parenting and setting boundaries.

Here are the 6 Types of Narcissism:

  1. Overt Narcissist: This is the classic or overt form of narcissism. Grandiose narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance, believe they are superior to others, and constantly seek admiration and attention. The overt narcissist co-parent has a strong need for validation and may exhibit arrogant and entitled behavior. They want everyone to worship them in the community, child’s school or activities. These types of individuals love to “save the day” and look like the Disney parent.

  2. Covert Narcissist: Unlike grandiose narcissists, vulnerable or covert narcissists may appear more introverted and insecure. They still have a strong need for validation and attention but may seek it in more subtle ways. The covert narcissist may portray themselves as victims and use passive-aggressive manipulation tactics such as guilt, gaslighting, shaming and blaming, or pity to gain control or sympathy. They can sometimes neglect the children’s well-being, medical and activities because it takes time away from what they rather do with their time. Additionally, the may try to separate children for parenting time or choose a golden child by making themselves the center of attention. Stonewalling, triangulation, withholding information, finances, and communication is their go-to manipulative antics. These types of individuals can sometimes also have paranoia tendencies as well and believe that everyone is out to get them and will exert extreme control over the children under the disguise of “safety”.

  3. Malignant Narcissist: Malignant narcissism is considered a more extreme and dangerous form of narcissism. Individuals with malignant narcissism exhibit traits of both narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. The malignant narcissist can be highly manipulative, exploitative, and lack empathy or remorse for their actions. They may also exhibit aggressive behavior and lash out at others rather than take accountability. The malignant narcissist tends to take great pleasure in being cruel to others and will hold grudges driving them to become revengeful. They may even suffer from paranoia tendencies due to their lack of trust in themselves and others.

  4. Communal Narcissist: Communal narcissists present themselves as selfless, generous, and caring individuals who are dedicated to helping others. However, their altruistic behavior is often driven by a need for admiration and recognition. They may use their acts of generosity as a means of gaining attention or control over others. These types of individuals may even take a job in the community to have more power and influence ensuring they get what they want at all times.

  5. Somatic Narcissist: Somatic narcissists excessively focus on their physical appearance and use it to gain admiration and attention. They may focus on the children’s appearance pressuring them to look and be their best as an extension of their ego. They may also criticize your appearance at shared events or over messages in an attempt to exert control and shatter your self-esteem in order to silence you out of shame.

  6. Cerebral Narcissist: Cerebral narcissists emphasize their intellectual abilities, knowledge, and achievements to assert superiority and seek validation. They may focus on the children’s achievements pressuring them to excel in school or to become a child prodigy. They may also gaslight you in messages to make you feel less than or not equipped to make good decisions for the children by attacking you or your parenting style.

  7. Spiritual Narcissist: They use spirituality or their perceived spiritual superiority as a means to assert control, manipulate others, and gain admiration or validation. They exploit spiritual practices, beliefs, religious documents, or concepts for their personal gain, often at the expense of others' well-being. They may use scripture to make you feel guilty, to control behaviors, and attempt to tarnish your name in the religious community for divorcing them.

If you believe you are co-parenting with a narcissist and want to take back your power so they can no longer control your life, then schedule a consultation today. We will guide you step by step through the process and help you strengthen your inner voice and shut down their antics once and for all with high-value responses.


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