Narcissistic tendencies or traits can come in many different forms and levels of severity, while as a mental health condition, there is currently only one diagnosis. Tony tackles the question of whether or not we use the label of narcissism too broadly, and if we spoke more about what narcissistic traits and tendencies looked like in our everyday lives, would more people be able to take ownership of their narcissistic behaviors?
Tony refers to the article "5 Types of Narcissism and How to Recognize Each," by Courtney Telloian (medically reviewed by Jeffrey Ditzell, DO) from PsychCentral https://psychcentral.com/health/types-of-narcissism.
If you have questions or comments, or suggestions for a topic of a future episode or if you want to share your story or examples of gaslighting in your relationships please send through the contact form at http://tonyoverbay.com
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[00:00:01] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode seven of the Waking Up the Narcissist podcast, I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of another podcast called The Virtual Couch. And as a matter of fact, I think I am doing. I'm going to do a and this episode is going to be on the virtual couch almost as a come on over to the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast. Because when I cover narcissism on the virtual couch, the download numbers are they're big there. I talk about parenting, I talk about marriage, or if I talk about narcissism, it seems like the numbers are a few thousand downloads more than most. So if you are listening to this on the virtual couch and you've maybe heard me talk a little bit about this other podcast, it's called Waking Up the Narcissism and come on over. We're on episode seven and the numbers are already pretty phenomenal. So I know that there's a need here that people are emailing and emailing like crazy and saying that they feel heard. They feel understood. And so I welcome you over to this other podcast. I'm also using a new recording software. I'm going to give that a shot and it is. It's a program that will allow me to do some live streaming because the amount of questions and that I get on the waking up the Narcissism podcast is pretty phenomenal, and I thought I got a lot of questions on the Virtual Couch podcast, but I'm getting questions daily emailed about narcissism.
[00:01:16] So we're going to we're going to do more of the Q&A answers over here on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast, and so I'd like to be able to do some live streaming. So if you are a YouTube person at all, you can go to the Virtual Couch YouTube channel and this episode will hopefully be up there by the time you go. But I want to get into a few things. I had a bunch of things, a bunch of emails that I was going to read, but I just want to jump right in today because I'm going to cover an article that is going to talk about narcissism on a spectrum now, narcissism in and of itself. The word carries so much weight, it carries so much emotion. So I do know that when let's just say that people are emailing me and they are saying, finally, I feel heard, I feel understood. The gaslighting makes so much sense when I lay out these five tips in interacting with the narcissist in your life. Whether it's your spouse, whether it's your employer, whether it's an adult child or anyone, somebody in your church, congregation or church leadership that it gives people a lot of they feel empowered when they know that, Oh, this is a thing and I am not crazy. But then if you then the rules always mean if you say, don't tell the person they're in our sister, they will lose their mind.
[00:02:27] How dare you call me that? And I will have people come into my office often and say, Hey, what even is this narcissist thing that I keep hearing about? Because it is in the zeitgeist, it's out there. You hear about it all over the place. And so the term itself, I think, is misused. And so here leads to a little bit of a story that will then get to an email that will get to an article. And I think we're going to make some sense of this. And I specifically had in mind that if you really do feel like you want someone to try and understand that you think that they may have some narcissistic traits or tendencies, I'm not going to lie. I have that in mind with this episode. So if somebody has gently nudge this episode over to you and said, Hey, this might be something that you could listen to, then I would love for you to just take a couple of deep breaths and I'm being serious and through the nose out through the mouth. Give me two or three of those because that's going to lower your heart rate a little bit. It's going to get that cortisol lowered in your brain. You're going to be able to tap into your prefrontal cortex and stay in your logical brain, because so many times when people say, I think you're a narcissist, well, then all of a sudden we feel like we are criticized.
[00:03:35] And if you're criticized, then you, you start worrying about diving down into this shame. So then we do everything we can to protect our ego. And that is what we're going to talk about here in a minute instead of just saying, OK, if somebody is going to offer this information to me, they're not just throwing it out randomly. There's a reason. So why wouldn't I want to listen with curiosity because I can still choose to agree or disagree? But curiosity is what then can lead to more of a connection between people. But I'm jumping ahead. So story time. About a week or two ago, I was interviewed on a show called The Middle, and it's by a friend of mine named Gwendolyn. Condy and Caitlin had asked me if I could cover mental health, faith and narcissism, which I feel is an interesting trio of subjects. And it was an hour long. It was an Instagram Live interview. Actually, I have it on my virtual couch Instagram account. So if you are an Instagram person, go find that and it's in the highlights. But we covered the mental health. We covered the some of the faith related things and we didn't have a lot of time. And then Gayle and said, Hey, before you go, I'd love for you to to cover narcissism.
[00:04:43] And honestly, I felt like we didn't have enough time. So I think I may have said something like, Oh, I don't know if we have enough time, or maybe we can cover it next time. And she said, Can you just give me a quick overview? And I done a little bit of preparation. I had a quote up in the background for me, and that quote was. From a podcast I had done quite a while ago where I was talking about these different subtypes of narcissism, and so I want to read this quote because in the context of the interview, I thought it was fascinating and what I'm admitting to here is I had a bit of an aha moment during the interview, so I shared with her that if you're talking about a clinical diagnosis of narcissism, this this information says individuals who meet the criteria for having narcissistic personality disorder generally can be generally described as having a belief of superiority over others that gives them entitlement to special treatment and an obsession with grandiose fantasies of success and power. And I feel like that part I think I shared with her that I don't feel like I do see a lot of people that are clinically diagnosed narcissistic personality disordered people. But this next line is what is pretty fascinating. The next line says. Deep down, however, they are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos.
[00:05:58] Now there's another line after that that says they're also self-absorbed and have lower levels of empathy for others, and this may lead them to take advantage of people in their quest for excessive attention and admiration. And right after that, the article says narcissism exists along a spectrum. However, however, and all of those are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder do not adhere neatly to this characterization. And so there are, in essence, three major types of narcissists. And so in that particular article or in that particular podcast that go into those subtypes. But let me hone in on the second line that I read out of this paragraph that deep down, however, they are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos. And again, if you are here and someone has suggested that you listen to this episode of the podcast, or if you're just one who is starting to wake up to narcissism and you have been finding a lot of information that you feel resonates with you and your relationships. One of the things I talk about often is that we are all at birth moving forward, technically little narcissist. And let me explain. So from birth, when a child is born, they enter the world. And if they are not, if their needs are not met, if they are not fed, if they are not watered, if their diapers are not changed, then they die.
[00:07:16] So we're programed with this abandonment equals death. So that's a pretty significant thing. As a matter of fact, I was listening to Hidden True Crime podcast, and there's a forensic psychologist on there that I'm just really enjoying listening to his take on so many things. And he was talking about attachment. And he said that when a baby is born, in essence, they don't even know that they exist. They don't even know that they are an entity until they do have some interaction or feedback with with another human or another individual. And so we are programed that we need to get our needs met or we die. And it's pretty easy as a baby because babies are cute, they sound awesome and they smell pretty good, except for the part where when they do go poop, but you go grab a baby and you take care of it because they they're they're just so darn cute. And so we're programed in our factory settings that if we emote, if we express ourselves, that people then meet our needs and now you start to get to ages two or three or four. And this is where the concept of abandonment kicks in. And I often lightheartedly say when kids start to get that age, it's welcome to the world of abandonment. Because if a kid then now expresses themselves and they say, I would really enjoy candy before dinner and the parent says no, think about it.
[00:08:26] Moving forward from an abandonment equals death standpoint from birth that if all of a sudden my parents aren't going to give me candy before dinner, we view that as, wait, I just expressed myself and someone did not meet my needs. And this doesn't make sense because in their, you know, in our programing, it's because if they aren't going to give me candy before dinner. What else are they not going to give me? And if they aren't going to meet my needs, then I may possibly die. I may go back to this abandonment equals death model that is programed into my very fabric of my being. So from an attachment standpoint, now the kid has to figure out, how do I get my needs met? Now what do most kids do? They cry, they scream. And then what do parents often do? Ok, fine. One piece of candy before dinner. But we're never doing this again. But does the kid hear any of that? No, they just got their needs met. They got their candy before dinner. And so kids then often adopt all sorts of different attachment styles so they may get very angry and moody until they get their needs met. They may withdraw until their parent goes up to them and says, Hey, champ, you look like you're feeling down. Or they may become the scholar. They may become the scholar at school, and they receive praise because they get good grades.
[00:09:38] Or they might be the star athlete. Everybody says, Oh my gosh, you're amazing. And so all of these are attachment patterns in order to get our needs met because if we don't get our needs met, then we die. So moving up through childhood from childhood and adolescence, we are the center of the universe. So now put that in context, and this is where I say bless their hearts. Every little kid is a narcissist because they are ego centered. The world revolves around them. They don't have a concept of what is going on to their caregivers, so if they want, they want new shoes or they want new pants because their friends have newer shoes or nicer pants and they say, I want these things and their parent who may be financially struggling, they may have just had a job loss. They may be going through a divorce, who knows. But to the little kid, they want their stuff. And if they don't get it, it goes back into this, this memory bank, this DNA bank, where if they don't get their needs met, then that means I may die. So I am going to pout. I am going to yell, I am going to scream, I'm going to coerce, I'm going to steal. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to lie because I need my needs met. And this is where you start looking at gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism that if a child feels like if they take ownership of something, they're going to get in trouble or if they gaslight is a way to get their needs, that again starts to be plugged into their DNA.
[00:10:56] So the big difference is that we all then start as self-centered. But then the goal is with the proper modeling examples from parents and those around us that we gain this emotional maturity and we move from self-centered to self-confident. And this is why when you are arguing with someone that has narcissistic traits or tendencies as an adult, I often say you literally feel like you're arguing with a 10 year old boy. They can then respond or react and be very angry. And then a few minutes later, we're good, right? We're going to go hang out. You don't go ride bikes because they feel like that is there. We just had an argument. But now, one minute later, we're fine. We're to someone that is maybe more highly sensitive. Then they they are going to feel that argument and they're going to feel like something's wrong here and this isn't working, and we need to figure this out. So that abandonment attachment thing is so significant because now let's go back to abandonment. So as we move forward into life, people are now all having their own experiences. But we're still programed with this kid brain, this kid DNA.
[00:11:58] So if people then don't respond to us the way we want them to? Where do we go? We go to this, OK? It must be me if I can't get someone to meet my needs, they respond in a different way. We still have this belief that I must be broken. I must be unlovable. Something must be wrong with me when as a human being, now you know that you're going through all of your own stuff. So somebody says, Hey, can you babysit my kids? And if you have some event going on instead and you say, Man, I wish I could, but I'm not going to be able to. It's it's unfortunately pretty rare where the person just says, OK, no problem. A lot of times are like, Oh, OK, we must not like my kids or they must not really care for me, or I would have canceled the meeting to watch their kids. So it must be me. Something must be wrong with me. So with that said, let's go back to this part of this quote, and let's talk about narcissistic traits and tendencies. So we are bringing all of that into adulthood with us. So when deep down, we are very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame, so then go we go to great lengths to protect our fragile egos. So after this interview with I'm going on a walk that night with my wife and we're talking about something and I just say, You know what, I'm going to, I'm going to say this to this particular person, and my wife is just weird walking a dog, and she just says, Oh, I wouldn't say that.
[00:13:15] And I, this is why I like to say I'm a marriage and family therapist. I'm a couples counselor. I have a I have I feel confident in my knowledge of these four pillars of a connected conversation that are the basis of my magnetic marriage course. And yet I really did think back earlier in that day to this quote of deep down, we are vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame and go to great lengths to protect their fragile egos. And so in that moment, I think I just said, Oh, OK, yeah, no, I'll do. I'll give that a thought. But I did a check in with myself and did I feel criticized? I did, and I know my wife wasn't criticizing me because as the marriage therapist that I am, I want every couple to realize that you are two unique individuals having your own experiences. That is what differentiation is instead of codependent and enmeshed. We want to be interdependent and differentiated, differentiated where one person ends and the other begins. So we are two different people coming into a marriage. We start it with this codependency and enmeshed because that's just what we do. We put up our best selves and we're worried that if we get too open or vulnerable, that our spouse will say, Whoa, I did not know that this is the person I'm marrying.
[00:14:24] I'm out of here. So then we play this weird attachment tango for most of our marriage, and we never quite feel like we are ourselves, or we never quite feel like we can express ourselves in the way that we truly believe. Because sometimes if we all of a sudden say a few years into our marriage, I really I really like this particular show. And if our spouse says, Well, really, you've never watched it before or you don't like other shows like that, what do we feel like? We feel criticized. And then that's where this quote is so good that we are vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame. And what a shame. I even talked about this on waking up the narcissism. I go so big on this on the virtual couch. Shame and guilt. Two different things. Guilt, I feel bad about something. Shame, I am a horrible person and no one will love me so deep down when we feel criticized, do we go to shame? So when I'm walking with my wife on this particular evening and she says, I wouldn't say that to this particular person that we're talking about, then I did feel, Oh, OK, that feels like a little bit of criticism. And if I had let myself go down into this place of shame, then I could have easily said, Wow, she thinks I'm a horrible person and a bad husband and probably a bad father too, and I go into this shame spiral.
[00:15:33] So then the next part of this line says so then very vulnerable to criticism and feelings of shame. So then go to great lengths to protect our fragile egos. Now there are several ways that we go to protect their fragile ego. One of them gaslighting. I could have easily said, Oh, OK, well, I appreciate your opinion, but you know, research shows that the thing I'm about to say is really, really good. Would I be making that up? Probably having done that in the past, probably have or other ways that we go to great lengths to protect our fragile ego could be anger. Anger is about control when someone erupts with anger. They may have this pattern from the time they were a kid that that might be the way they got their needs met was being angry, so they may just reflexively say, Are you kidding me? That's really how you feel, you believe. And so then that's going to shut the conversation down. But it protects the person's fragile ego or withdraw if the person is just decided. I'm not going to say anything ever. I'm not going to share my opinion then that is a way to protect our ego because we don't want we're protecting our ego or ego.
[00:16:35] Is this inner sense of self. So. I really felt like this line made so much sense on the fact that if we're all accept this fact that we move from childhood into adulthood with some of these egocentric traits, I don't even like to say narcissistic traits because you say this to the wrong person. And then they're going to say, See, you are the narcissist. And no, I'm not talking about that because it hits much different my friends. The emails I am getting. There is a very vast difference of people that have had this gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism, and that has been their pattern for their entire lives. So it is reflexive. It's the air that they breathe. And so it really doesn't matter what you say, this person is going to turn it around on you and they're not going to take ownership. And again, if you are one of those who have felt so heard in the first six episodes of this podcast, then you know what I'm talking about. If you're somebody listening to this right now and you're thinking, Yeah, my spouse does do that, I want you to take a look at yourself, which is the big part of why I was excited to talk about this today. The name waking up. The narcissism is deep. It is deep because I'm talking about people that are waking up to the narcissist in their life and and recognizing that they are not crazy.
[00:17:45] But I am also talking about waking up to one's own narcissism and because I talk often on my virtual couch podcast about my narcissistic traits and tendencies. And I have had people now emailing me saying, Are you just you're just joking right? Or you just you're just trying to make fun of that? Or you don't really have that, do you? And oh, I do. And that is the part that I feel so excited to share is that we have to then take ownership of our own actions, our own responses. So if you are a person who is waking up to the narcissism in yourself, then welcome aboard. Let's go on a journey. If you're the person that's waking up to the narcissist in your life, then please find validation and the things that we are talking about because it is phenomenal to feel heard and to feel understood, and I hope you can see the difference there. So that led me to pulling up an article that I just think is so good. The article is I've got a year. I just started clicking around, and I guess this is the fun thing about being alive. Live stream. Ok, here we go from Psych Central says five types of narcissism and how to recognize each. This is medically reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Witzel was written by Courtney Killian on September 15. Twenty Twenty One and why? Every time I refer to an article, can it not just be a really easy name? So, Courtney, I apologize, Jeffrey, I apologize, the link in my show notes.
[00:19:01] But I'm going to read a lot from this and I'm going to respond react because this is right out of the gate. This is so good, says as a personality trait, narcissism can come in many forms and levels of severity as a mental health condition. There's only one diagnosis, so there's the big key. There is a mental health condition, a diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder, and it's part of these this cluster of personality disorders, narcissism, histrionic, antisocial and borderline. And there are some traits, if you did this Venn diagram that intersect in all of those. But as far as personality traits, that's why I laid out that entire abandonment and attachment argument, because I really feel like that makes a lot of sense to when people feel like, Wait, am I the narcissist? And I always say, if you're asking yourself, if you're the narcissist, you're not, there's a wonderful chance that you're not. But do you maybe have a few traits or tendencies? Most likely, yeah, because you're a human being who who came from birth. If you were born as a two year old person with emotional maturity, then no. But for most of us, when we feel criticized, that's still deep within our DNA, even if the person isn't meaning it as criticism. So as a personality trait, narcissism comes in many forms and levels of severity.
[00:20:16] As a mental health condition, there's only one diagnosis. So Courtney says, you might be wondering what does it actually mean to be narcissistic? And are we using this label too broadly or are there different types of narcissism now? My personal and professional opinion is that it is being used broadly, but there are also different types of narcissism. I feel like this is a term that needs to be understood more because it is used so often and we have this immediate response when we hear what the word narcissism. So she says, in fact, you may have noticed terms like narcissist or narcissism are becoming increasingly popular. Yes, they are. And there are even a few lists of famous narcissists going around. And she says, it seems that everybody knows somebody, whether it's a family member or a coworker or a frenemy who fits this label. But these terms are also loaded and highly stigmatized. Well said. So this is why it's important to understand what they mean and how they manifest. So she has a little point in the article that says narcissism is a personality trait versus a personality disorder. When people talk about narcissism, they might be referring to, it is either part of someone's personality or as narcissistic personality disorder, which is also called NPD. So we might refer to it as that moving forward here. A little bit narcissistic personality disorder is a formal diagnosis that's classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM five.
[00:21:31] As a Cluster B personality disorder, NCPDP is usually diagnosed when narcissism extends beyond a personality trait and per se. Persistently affects many areas of your life. The DSM five lists only one type of narcissism, but researchers and other experts on narcissism have found multiple ways that can show up as part of someone's personality, including those with the formal diagnosis. So we're going to talk about that a little bit more. If you're interested in what that narcissistic traits and tendencies in the DSM talk about, then I can. I would refer you to eight types of narcissism and how to spot them episode of my virtual couch podcast. But how many types are there as a mental health diagnosis? Again, there's only one, but it manifests in different ways, as does the personality trait on a general level. Narcissism is closely tied to extreme self-focus, an inflated sense of self and a strong desire for recognition and praise. And this is where I start tapping into the narcissistic traits or tendencies that I've noticed, even in my own self. Extreme self focus. I'm pretty open about adult ADHD, but there's definitely a correlation there in some situations. Inflated sense of self is that we want to be the special one. Why? Because if you look back at those roots of I need my needs met, we start to develop these tendencies.
[00:22:45] Some do in childhood of that. If I am the best fill in the blank or I get the most attention of whatever I'm doing that I get my needs met that praise or that adoration is going to ensure that I will survive. So that will often lead to this inflated sense of self or a strong desire for recognition and praise. I can tell you often that on my own journey through narcissistic traits, I'll take the podcast. For example, the virtual couch. I just released episode two hundred and Ninety, and I just spoke at an event in Utah four and a half hours where people came to hear me speak. And I would have thought long ago, that's my dream. That's all I ever want. But boy, as much as I loved every minute of it, when we're done and people want to come up and say nice things, I want to go away because I always thought, That's what I want. I want that praise. I want that adulation. But then it turns out, Oh, I was chasing that thinking that then that would make me feel whole. But in reality, that is it's nice, but you realize that is that recognition and praise that we seek because we want to be the special one because if we are the special one, then our brains saying, I think we're good. I think we're going to survive. I think we're gonna get our needs met.
[00:23:54] But if you talk about narcissism, a researchers have broken down the narcissistic personality trait into overt narcissism, covert narcissism, which we've talked about some of these terms as well. If you look at that concept of overt narcissism. You really are talking about when someone is, it's outward. It's overt, it's out in the open. It's and that's what leads to some of this grandiose narcissism. Covert is a little bit more behind the scenes. I'm looking up in my notes, overt and covert. So again, the fun. So people with overt narcissism are typically extroverted, bold and attention seeking, they may become aggressive or violent if a person or a situation challenges their sense of status. The covert subtype is less obvious. A person with covert narcissism may come across as shy or withdrawn or self-deprecating. And often, that self-deprecating piece can be interesting. I was going to say frustrating where people can go into the victim mode or the self-deprecating mode. Then you go to rescue and then now you're vulnerable, and then the person then lets you know all of the things that you are doing wrong, even trying to rescue that covert narcissist. There's also the antagonistic narcissist, the communal narcissist and the malignant narcissist, according to this article, and we'll talk more about. That said, it's also possible to look at narcissism in terms of how to fix your day to day life and your ability to form relationships.
[00:25:07] So in this context, narcissism can either be adaptive or helpful or maladaptive and unhelpful. So the point of using categories is not necessarily to label someone you think might have narcissistic qualities. And in fact, some research suggests that it could be more accurate to view narcissism on a spectrum from less to more severe. So you might then imagine that a different type of narcissism might fit somewhere along the spectrum. So enter Exhibit A, an email that I received that I think is amazing, and this is another thing that led me to want to dove into this episode now sooner than later. I've gotten a couple of these emails like this, but this one, I asked the person if they were OK if I read it, and they said, sure. They said, I'm a second generation, at least narcissistic husband and my wife deserves better. I've listened to many of your virtual couch podcasts. And I just binged on the first six episodes of Waking Up. Can you address what a person on the narcissistic spectrum can do if they want to break the link or cycle? I feel like my wife and I should separate because I treat her horribly. I think she would be better off without me or until I figure out how to improve. And then he put help. And I just said, I am so grateful for your honesty, your vulnerability. And then I had asked for permission, but I shared what I did here that I carefully chose this name, waking up the narcissism because I want to cover a lot of topics, including my own waking up and the fact that when we talk about narcissistic dusting or narcissistic tendencies, that is part of this narcissistic spectrum.
[00:26:30] And so I would love to be able to tackle on this podcast the from the victim of the narcissistic and the narcissistic relationship. But also I have my I have my own grandiose dreams. I was like this my narcissism, my grandiose dreams that I can be the special one who can then also speak to the person who may be waking up to their own narcissistic tendencies or traits. So again, if your spouse has said, Hey, I worry that you may have some of these traits or tendencies, then it welcome aboard and what a journey of self-discovery. And one of the reasons I hesitated and I hesitated on my virtual couch podcast to talk about this is because when women are in these emotionally abusive relationships and again, I have a separate woman's group, a private group formed for women who are in these relationships, whether with their spouse, their employers, their parents, their church leaders, whoever it is, those stories are so similar. So there is a if you are one who feels like you can, nothing will ever be enough. I will never get it right. He is never wrong. Then again, you know who? I'm speaking to you.
[00:27:33] Those are the majority of the emails I'm getting. And the problem is that is typically and I talked about this in an earlier episode. That's typically what we call the pathologically kind person who then when they are met up with the pathological narcissist, it creates this human magnet syndrome, which is really hard to break. Today's episode is talking more about, Hey, somebody that is starting to resonate some of these things that they hear about narcissism starting to resonate. Is this just a version of? I didn't know what I didn't know. And so it may be a tendency or trait, but I really want to work on this or do better than welcome aboard. Let's talk a little bit then about Courtney in this article says adaptive versus maladaptive. What does that mean? Some research draws a line between adaptive and maladaptive narcissism, and this helps show the difference between productive and unproductive aspects of narcissism. Again, to the emotionally abused victim of a narcissist, a productive version of narcissism sounds like an oxymoron. And it does. And it is for that that that pathological narcissist who will refuse to ever even listen to anything that you may have to say about. We need help. I think this might be a problem in the relationship, but to someone like the person who wrote me, I've actually had a couple of people write me or to myself or some of my clients that I used to call their unicorns people that over time start to then say, Wait a minute, could I possibly be? Because again, if you just tell someone, I think you're a narcissist, first of all, we got some psychological reactants.
[00:28:56] They're like, No, I'm not. How dare you say that? There isn't that curiosity. You have to have the relationship of trust with someone to be able to start doing and explore that, which is why I love nothing more than being able to talk with people or work with people long enough for them to finally say, Could it be me? And then even then you'll watch me say, Hey, tell me more. Tell me why you're asking that question. And that's a big reason why I talk about my own narcissistic traits or tendencies. Because. I want to say, look, it's hard work, but boy, is it worth it to really start to dig in and deep dove because you are not going to you are not in a healthy, connected relationship. If you are one who is realizing that you have these narcissistic traits and tendencies was I guarantee you that your spouse has suffered because of this or your children have suffered because of this, that there is a very I don't want to say likely chance. It is a thing where the people around you have had to wonder which version of you is going to walk in the door.
[00:29:49] The fun loving one, the one who is down, the one who says, Let's spend money, everybody, let's go out to eat, or the one that comes in the next night and says, Man, all I am is a paycheck that you guys. I mean, that inconsistency is just phenomenal. So adaptive narcissism refers to aspects that can actually be helpful, like high self-confidence, self-reliance or the ability to celebrate yourself. And this is not talked about often because when you hear those, if you have the narcissist in your life, you say, Oh, they have plenty of self-confidence and self-reliance and the ability to celebrate themselves. But I think this is talking about the concept of from competence in a standpoint of the people that are letting their light so shine that they can lift those around them. That kind of a vibe. I remember giving a talk one time and talking just about ego, and at the time I almost felt like I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I had been to a training and somebody had talked about ego, and they talked about If you look at people like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jesus, those people, they had to have confidence in order to put themselves out there to change the world. So I feel like that is more in line with what someone is talking about with some of this adaptive narcissism. Sometimes I see a lot of clients, I'll see a lot of clients in one day and then go give a speech or then come home.
[00:31:00] And sometimes my wife will say, Man, are you? How are you doing? Is that hard to transition? I used to think, Man, this must be some gift. And then the last two or three years, I thought, Ooh, is that adaptive narcissism, where in that moment I am just as present as all can be? But then the ability to switch from task to task is that a bit of that adaptive narcissism so that it allows me not to just lose myself in each one of these clients, where in any given day I can go from divorce to somebody that's worried about committing suicide? Then there's a marriage just breaking up, or there's a death in the family or whatever. Somebody finding out about a terminal disease. And you can go from one to the other to the other, and then you have a teenager coming in that just wants to talk about their favorite YouTube channel. And you're just going from one to one and just loving every bit of being able to connect with this person and hear them and help them, but then go home and just say, Hey, what are we doing tonight? So I feel like that might be a version of some of that adaptive the maladaptive narcissism, though that's the part that's connected to traits that do not serve you and can negatively impact how you relate to others and to yourself and others.
[00:32:00] Entitlement, aggression and the tendency to take advantage of others fit under the umbrella of maladaptive narcissism. And that is then what leads into the symptoms associated with narcissistic personality disorder. And again, that's why I love this concept that they are. There are these symptoms, the diagnostic criteria, a mental health professional, you're trying to find at least five of these nine symptoms to reach a formal diagnosis, 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 pattern exploiting others for personal gain. Low empathy, envy, jealousy and distrust or arrogance. Haughtiness and scorn. And then the diagnosis criteria require these symptoms to remain consistent over time. Show up in most of the domains of life. So one of the jokes I remember in grad school when you're taking a class on diagnosis is so somebody hits four of these nine and five gives you the formal diagnosis and they go, Oh, OK, I'm off the hook. I guess I'm not a narcissist, but in reality, that's why this concept of things being on a spectrum is so important. When most people do talk about narcissism, it's the maladaptive kind that they're referring to. So unlike the adaptive, maladaptive narcissism is connected to self-consciousness, low self-esteem, higher chances of experiencing unpleasant emotions, lower empathy. And so the research has found that while maladaptive narcissism tends to decrease the older we get, adaptive narcissism doesn't decline as much over time.
[00:33:28] And so, in addition, both adaptive and maladaptive narcissism can be passed on through genes and influenced by your childhood upbringing. There you go. Nature, nurture yes. Yes, indeed. Overt narcissism. And by that, I meant that it's both overt narcissism, also known by several other names, including grandiose narcissism or this type of narcissism is what most people associate with the narcissistic personality. Someone with overt narcissism might come across as outgoing, arrogant, entitled, overbearing, having an exaggerated self-image, needing to be praised and admired, exploitive and lacking empathy. Some research connects over narcissism with the big five personality traits and extroversion and openness. And it also suggests that people with overt narcissism are more likely to feel good about themselves and less likely to experience uncomfortable emotions like sadness, worry or loneliness. And please go look on my virtual couch episodes for HSP highly sensitive person. There is such a correlation on highly since. The people connecting with narcissists and then the nurses telling the highly sensitive person so often to not worry about it. Get over it. It's not a big deal, whatever it is, but the highly sensitive person, that is not the way it works for them. So I feel like these are those traits that just start to really shine or stand out. And people with overt narcissism may also tend to overestimate their own abilities and intelligence.
[00:34:43] One study published in Twenty Eighteen also suggests that overt narcissism might cause somebody to overestimate their own emotional intelligence. That's right. They might. I think that one's check and these are the things where I will go, and I call them things like narcissistic math, where there are times early on, even in my podcast where I might be getting a thousand downloads, I'm like, Yeah, two thousand downloads an episode. So why? Who am I trying to impress? Somebody doesn't even know what the download numbers mean, but then to me, I'm overestimating these abilities are the intelligence or whatever that is. And so in this whole concept of waking up to narcissism, it's been fascinating. I did a whole episode on a thing called the Dunning Kruger effect, which in essence says that the more you think you know, the really the less you know. Now on the surface, that sounds pretty insane. But politicians are pretty famous for Dunning Kruger effect, where take, for example, someone on the campaign trail that go into a coal mining town. This is a real example from a couple of years ago, and they read a paragraph on coal mining and then they go in. I know I got it. I know I can speak to this audience. And then they talk about coal and the importance of coal and coal mining. This and coal mining that and the people that are actual coal miners are thinking this person doesn't know what they're talking about.
[00:35:50] But then to the narcissist, all of a sudden they think I'm in the moment. Matter of fact, they're going to say, you know, I think I could've sworn one of my relatives lived back here in this area. You know what? And then I started telling stories about my, my great great grandpa who mined coal. And and to this day, every time I see a chunk of coal, then I think of my grandpa and then somebody goes and checks and sees that, Hey, your grandpa, he, you know, he washed bottles at a manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie, totally making all that up. Covert narcissism, also known as vulnerable narcissism and closet narcissism, covert narcissism is the contrast to overt narcissism. While many people think of narcissism as loud and overbearing, trait people with covert narcissism do not fit this pattern. Instead, common traits of somebody with covert narcissism include expressions of low self-esteem, a higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety, depression and shame, introversion, insecurity and low confidence, defensiveness avoidance and a tendency to feel or play the victim. So this is where I go back to that quote as well. So when someone then feels like they are being criticized and they get hit, that shame, that low self-esteem, then they turn inward and then they tend to play the victim in hopes that someone will rescue them. But the biggest problem is they go back to that. Gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism and this desire for power and oftentimes the covert, the covert narcissist.
[00:37:11] I feel like it's almost like the spider who lures you into their web. You go to help, and all sudden you find out that that doesn't work, so matter. Fact, it makes things worse because they also feed off of that, that victim mentality and the energy that you give them and trying to help and then turn around and gaslight you so you walk away from there feeling bad about trying to help them. So while somebody with covert narcissism will still be very self focused, it's likely to conflict with a deep fear or a sense of not being enough. A study on personality and covert narcissism published in 2017 found that it was most strongly linked to high neuroticism or a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions and agreeableness. Someone with covert narcissism is likely to have a hard time accepting criticism, but unlike a person with overt narcissism, someone with covert narcissism may be more likely to internalize or take in the criticism more harshly than it was intended. So if somebody starting something by saying no offense or they're going to take offense and research suggests the categories of covert and overt narcissism aren't always mutually exclusive. In other words, somebody with overt narcissism might go through a period where they show more signs of covert narcissism. All we got, we got two or three more. We're going to hit this quick.
[00:38:14] I did not mean this episode to go this long antagonistic narcissism. According to some research, antagonistic narcissism is a subtype of overt narcissism. With this aspect, the focus is on rivalry and competition. Some of the features include arrogance, a tendency to take advantage of others, the tendency to compete with others or disagree, ability or openness to arguing. And according to research from Twenty Seventeen about facets of narcissism and forgiveness, those with this antagonistic narcissism reported that they were less likely to forgive others than people with other types of narcissism. People with antagonistic narcissism may also have lower levels of trust in others, according to a study from 2019. Communal narcissism is another type of overt, and it's usually seen as the opposite of antagonistic narcissism, so someone with communal narcissism values fairness and is likely to see themselves as altruistic as all giving. But research published in 2018 suggests there's a gap between these beliefs and the person's behavior. So people with communal narcissism might become easily morally outraged. You see a lot of this in religious narcissism or institutional narcissism from religious organizations describe themselves as being empathetic and generous, but in react to things as they see as unfair. But what? Makes it so interesting is what makes she Courtney lays this out perfectly. What makes communal narcissism different from genuine concern for the well-being of others? The key difference is that for people with communal narcissism, social power and self-importance are still playing major roles because they still are coming from this place of.
[00:39:37] That's the way they feel like they are the special one. Look at my empathy. Look at my concern, look at my leadership capabilities. But yet I will take no ownership of the hypocrisy of my own behavior the way that I act. For example, while communal narcissism might cause you to say and believe you have a strong moral code and care for others, you might not realize that the way you treat others doesn't match up with your beliefs. So you may be preaching this love and empathy as you then gaslight and then take no ownership and make someone feel less than malignant. Narcissism can exist at different levels. This is the last one. Malignant narcissism and malignant narcissism is a far more severe form, and it can cause a lot of problems for the person living with it. Malignant narcissism is more closely connected to overt and covert narcissism. Someone with malignant narcissism may have many common traits of narcissism, like a strong need for praise and to be elevated above others. But in addition, malignant narcissism can show up as vindictiveness, sadism or getting enjoyment from the pain or putting down on others aggression while interacting with other people or a paranoia or heightened worry about potential threats. So somebody with malignant narcissism may also share some traits with antisocial personality disorder. And this means somebody with malignant narcissism could be more likely to experience legal trouble or substance misuse.
[00:40:43] And in a very small study involving people with borderline personality disorder, those with malignant narcissism had a harder time, reducing anxiety and gaining better ability to function in day to day life. So I'm going to read her recap. She says narcissism, whether it's a personality trait or personality disorder, makes relationships more challenging. Amen. Different types of narcissism, whether covert, overt, communal, antagonistic or malignant, can also affect how you see yourself and interact with others. And when it comes to treatment, narcissism can be very tricky because most people living with it don't necessarily feel the need to change. I will add another amen because I get the only time I really get to work with a what then can potentially be a unicorn, as if someone does come in couples therapy and then they are open and they're willing to say, OK, I'm willing to hear you. I'm willing to to to listen or be a little bit of open. And I have to tell you that is really tricky as well. I kept another email up here just in case I had more time. Someone had emailed and said, What if our counselor isn't getting it? They said the podcast seems to come out at the perfect timing for me in my relationship with my wife. We're currently going through marriage counseling and they have a question whatever counselor doesn't appear to be picking up or addressing the spouse's narcissistic tendencies.
[00:41:53] They both are very quick to talk about my co-dependence, but the only thing said about my spouse is inability to take any blame or actually work on the marriages. They can't be forced, which this person says. I obviously agree based on your podcast in their own research, but their biggest fear is that when they are wrong about their wife, their wife's narcissistic behavior, and whether or not they are the narcissist, and they've signed up to see a separate counselor who specializes in narcissistic and codependent relationships. But it does spark interest, and I hope that this podcast in itself is getting is helping with the answers to that. Because if a counselor is not aware or familiar of personality disorders, or I'm going to be super honest because I have a couple of these things going on right now, or I'm noticing that there are a fair amount of clinicians that perhaps go into the helping field to validate themselves. Or so I feel like there's a fair amount of us in the helping profession that have these strong narcissistic tendencies or traits because we get to be the special one that helps other people and tells them what to do, which is absolutely not the way that therapy is supposed to work. Therapy is not a I will tell you what to do. It's a let me learn more about you and let me guide you.
[00:42:59] Let me stand beside you and then walk up to the obstacles in your life and then say, Hey, what do you want to do here? And what are your biggest fears or what are your insecurities? And then let's work with that. It's not a I will weigh in and I will tell you what to do. Bring to me your legal troubles, bring to me your tax questions, bring to me your business ideas, and I will then weigh my I will give my opinion on them. That is not what counseling is about, that that is perhaps a more narcissistic treated counselor or therapist. Again, narcissism can be tricky because many people living with it don't feel the need to change. But living with the narcissism poses its mental health effects, including anxiety, depression. People turn to substance abuse and sometimes the impact of these effects causes the person to reach out for help, which is what I am grateful for, which is what my women's group is for, which is, I think why this podcast is just the reception has been phenomenal. So when someone living with narcissism seeks professional support, there is a lot of potential for growth and improved mental health. But I covered this in, I think, the first episode. The unfortunate part is when the person that is starting to wake up to the narcissist in their life, then they are going to be met with a lot of invalidation.
[00:44:07] Oh, do you think you're smarter than me? Or now you care, or you better not go talk about me? Or there's so many things that now you're more disagreeable, or now you hold on to things more or but no, it's because you are starting to become. Differentiated, and you're starting to recognize I am me and I cannot lose myself, that's not what's best for me, it's not what's best for my kids, my family and my relationship. Am I modeling? And so it's difficult, is it? That can be. That's why there are so many resources like my podcast articles, you name it, just devour the information and know that it's going to take a lot longer than you would like. It's a long process, but you have begun the process. Honestly, if you're even listening to this podcast, stay on it. If you made it this far and you're somebody that's starting to say, Do I have some narcissistic traits or tendencies, then holy cow. Bless your heart. Start doing a deep dove yourself and start to be aware of those things that you are recognizing as that maybe these are some of my narcissistic traits or tendencies and own it. Take ownership of it if you are afraid to just own it to your spouse. Write it down. Try to find somebody that you can talk to about it. Do your own research because I want you to find that that piece it is.
[00:45:22] It is. It is possible to wake up to narcissism, both to your own narcissism or the majority of people listening to this podcast through the narcissist in your life. And that is such a hope of mine. So I'm going to wrap it up. If you have questions, continue to submit them through Tony overbay.com. Go to the contact page if you're interested. If you are a woman interested in joining the group again, it's for people that are in relationships with co-parenting with have been through the wringer with have narcissistic parents bosses. The interaction is amazing and we have group calls every other week and those are just I can't even I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to see people connect. It's not just a complaint to place, it's a place where people feel heard and empowered. And that's what you really need is you wake up to narcissism and whatever those forms are. I need some sort of ending catch phrase, and I feel like that now is the part I need to say, you know, I think, Dr. Laura, you say, go take on the day and I feel like I don't want you to say so. So there's a thing, there's some words, but have an amazing day, and I look forward to hearing from you questions that sort of thing as you wake up to narcissism. I didn't really feel like my heart was in that one. All right. We'll see you next time.