What is Covert Narcissism?
Transcript of the You Tube Video @LisaTaylor-Austin:
“Hi I’m Lisa Taylor-Austin. I’m a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, seeing clients in seven states. I’m also an expert witness. I’m here to talk to you today about covert narcissism. Very little is known about covert narcissism even by mental health professionals. The reason for that is that covert narcissism itself is not in the DSM5 as a diagnosis. It is not a diagnosable mental illness. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a diagnosable but covert is not mentioned in the DSM as a diagnosis. However, it is very real and extremely devastating to the people who are involved with the covert narcissist in their personal and even their professional life.
Covert Narcissism is sometimes called quiet narcissism or vulnerable narcissism or closet narcissism. It’s all the same thing that we are talking about here. In the video I will use the word “he” to describe the covert, however please keep in mind a covert can be a female or someone of another gender or gender identity.
Covert narcissists come across as being incredibly shy, humble, polite. They downplay their achievements really because they would like you to adulate them and tell them how wonderful and magnificent and stellar that they are. They have a public image but then they have their private self and these two things do not match.
The covert narcissist knows what empathy is, he understands it intellectually, but he doesn’t feel it in his heart where most of us would feel empathy. He often times pretends to be empathic and he can fool you into believing that he really is. But once you become involved with him, you will see a roller coaster because his life is chaos and he’s often very passive-aggressive and will use certain techniques to punish you or to teach you a lesson. Those techniques can be control, and extreme control really about anything. He often times uses the silent treatment. So he doesn’t talk to you for days, weeks, months, sometimes even years if he is upset or angry with you about something you did or didn’t do or something he thinks you did or did not do.
Coverts often times use withholding. So they will withhold attention, affection, caring, money, support. Anything that they think you need or want, they’ll withhold it from you. They are dismissive. Your feelings, your opinion do not really matter to him. And they lie and they lie and they lie and they lie. But they are really confabulating, and I’ll get to that in a minute. But what most healthy people would consider – it is lying.
Narcissists are users. They are looking to extract from you things that they need, and if you challenge them in any way that concerns them, they can fly into a narcissistic rage. That rage can be scary. They can break things, they can sometimes become very abusive but not always.
The covert fails to see how his bad behavior affects you because the covert is only concerned about himself. The covert narcissist is extremely stealth. He seems like the good guy. Everybody loves him and people tell you how lucky you are and how he’s so wonderful and you got the best husband or the best boyfriend ever. And “oh my gosh I wish I had a boss like that.” However their abuse is insidious and only the people who get close to him know what he is really like.
It doesn’t matter, if you, the person on the receiving end, are a doctor, a lawyer, work at Starbucks, work at Walmart or are even a therapist: the covert can fool you into believing that he is who he wants you to believe that he is. The reason for that is that he wears a mask. He doesn’t present himself as the reality of what he is. He’s a chameleon. He blends into every situation imaginable but he’s able to assess the people there with a laser scrutiny. He knows what other people want, what they desire, and he presents that as himself when that is not who he is.
I want you think of the covert narcissist walking through his life and he’s walking through a play or a movie. This is how he thinks of it in his mind. Not only is he the producer, the director and the star of the movie, but you are just a small insignificant actor in this. He moves from scene to scene. As he moves from scene to scene his style of dress, his mannerisms, his speech patterns, his emotions and even his knowledge base shift and change. The shifts are so markedly different if his family were able to be a fly on the wall and see him at work they would not recognize him, and vice versa. If his co-workers saw him at home they would not recognize him.
He moves from scene to scene portraying this false self to each person that he encounters. He really does not have any empathy for the people. He doesn’t feel the way most people feel. He can fool you into thinking he’s very empathic, but he isn’t. He extracts from you, your traits, your emotions, your attention, your adulation, your admiration, and anything else that he desires. You are not a person to him. You are just a reflection of adulation and admiration and adoringness.
Usually the covert loses interest in an interpersonal relationship around the three month mark. I talk to quite a few young people who are dating and they will say that they met this man and he is just the most amazing man they’ve ever met and they are so happy but right around the three month mark, he ghosts them. That’s not to say everyone who ghosts is a covert but it’s possible if you are getting ghosted you might be dealing with a covert. Usually what happens though is they stay in the relationship past this three month mark but you’ll see a change and they start to pull back and that’s because they are already grooming another person to take your place. They know this relationship will end. And it will. Relationships with coverts don’t last (unless you do not question them and give up all your needs).
Narcissists have memory loss. They have memory gaps. As a result of that they confabulate. What that means is that they draw of a story of what probably happened or what might have happened. As they draw up this story they are actually believing this. They believe that this really happened. So the way that most people would view this is that they are lying – but they believe their lies.
The covert creates a memory, an identity, a career where there isn’t one. He might be married with children yet when he meets you he insists that he is single, even if he’s faced with his wedding album or his wife is standing right there. He will keep insisting that he is single. He might tell you that the best place he went was to Europe and he will tell you all the things he did there and what his favorite meal was – yet he has never been there. The confabulations permeates his entire being so he’s doing this with his intimate partners; girlfriend, wife, significant other but he’s also doing this at work and he’s doing this with his acquaintances.”
Watch the video on YouTube for the rest of the presentation.
DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL CARE. PLEASE CONSULT A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FOR GUIDANCE SPECIFIC TO YOUR CASE. THIS VIDEO DISCUSSES NARCISSISM IN GENERAL. THE VIDEO DOES NOT REFER TO ANY SPECIFIC PERSON, AND SHOULD NOT BE USED TO REFER TO ANY SPECIFIC PERSON, AS HAVING NARCISSISM. PERMISSION IS NOT GRANTED TO LINK TO OR REPOST THIS VIDEO, ESPECIALLY TO SUPPORT AN ALLEGATION THAT THE MAKERS OF THIS VIDEO BELIEVE, OR SUPPORT A CLAIM, THAT A SPECIFIC PERSON IS A NARCISSIST. THAT WOULD BE AN UNAUTHORIZED MISUSE OF THE VIDEO AND THE INFORMATION FEATURED IN IT.