Feelings, Narcissism, Relationships

37 common traits of overt narcissists

Overt narcissists are fairly easy to spot. When you meet them, they’ll try to make you think the sun shines out of their a** (to use an old cliché). Problem is, a lot of us fall into the trap of believing them.

It seems the planet is suffering a plague of narcissism at the moment with ubiquitous selfies, full-of-themselves heads-of-states and a tsunami of abusive relationships everywhere (just google “narcissistic abuse” to see for yourself: bout 19,700,000 results in 0.47 seconds).

In the aftermath of my own two-year-Iong emotionally abusive narcissistic “relationship,” I discovered I have been surrounded  (unknowingly until now) by narcissism and narcissists for my entire life. It’s no wonder I lived most of it feeling broken!

Thankfully, I’m a survivor who is now turning things around based on what I’ve learned about the painful cycle of narcissistic abuse.

The first step in protecting oneself against being harmed by people who are high on the narcissism spectrum is to understand narcissism as well as the traits and behaviours narcissists exhibit. The second is to be aware of the traits and behaviours you (and me) have that make you (and me) vulnerable to narcissistic abuse (more on that in a future post).

I’ve taken most of the list below from Julie L. Hall’s helpful book “The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free.” The thirty-seven traits are common to most types of narcissistic people.

Grandiose, covert, and malignant narcissists demonstrate additional and/or different traits and behaviours, which I’ve also sourced from Hall’s book. Check out the links below.

Thirty-seven traits of most overt narcissists or people who are high on the narcissistic spectrum:
  1. hypersensitive to perceived and real slights
  2. indifferent or callous to the feelings and needs of others (i.e. they lack empathy)
  3. have illusions of grandeur
  4. expect special treatment
  5. are intolerant of criticism
  6. rarely or never genuinely apologize (although they may say “I’m sorry” as a manipulative tactic)
  7. don’t take responsibility for their actions
  8. have a huge sense of entitlement
  9. derive self-esteem from associating themselves with high status things, people, institutions, systems, or causes/beliefs
  10. target/punish others who deprive them of what they believe they deserve
  11. distort reality through gaslighting
  12. have a constant need for attention, admiration, and adulation
  13. lie regularly, frequently or pathologically
  14. cheat in various ways (e.g. sexual infidelity)
  15. triangulate to control and undermine communication
  16. divide and conquer others for leverage
  17. compulsively scapegoat and idealize others
  18. view life in simplistic binary terms– good/bad, perfect/worthless
  19. are preoccupied with appearances
  20. overestimate and/or underestimate their importance and abilities
  21. categorize others hierarchically as inferiors, superiors or competitors
  22. fluctuate between inflated self aggrandizement and deflated depression
  23. project their own feelings and behaviour onto others
  24. lack self-awareness
  25. avoid introspection
  26. have superficial and exploitative relationships
  27. see vulnerability is a weakness
  28. routinely violate boundaries
  29. overreact to disappointment
  30. demand perfection
  31. lack interest in things they regard as irrelevant to themselves
  32. objectify others
  33. become easily bored
  34. become annoyed when attention is directed away from them
  35. are prone to defensive rage
  36. express rage that is totally out of proportion to the incident
  37. believe their opinion is the only legitimate one

Covert, grandiose and malignant narcissists demonstrate additional and/or different traits and behaviours, which I’ve also sourced from Hall’s book. I highly recommend the book to anyone who was raised in a narcissistic family system (as I was), and/or who is or has been in a relationship with someone who is high on the narcissistic spectrum – yes, I’ve been there too! This book is proving to be an invaluable tool in my own ongoing healing process as is Hall’s blog narcissistfamilyfiles.com.

© 2021 Susan Macaulay. I invite you to share my poetry and posts widely, but please do not reprint, reblog or copy and paste them in their entirety without my permission. Thank you.

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