It is impossible to explore all of the many facets, intricacies, and impacts of Pathological Narcissism in one article. This I know. Those with High Narcissistic traits, Narcissistic Personality Disorder/Pathological Narcissism (and other Cluster B personalities) impact all of us on such a deep level, personally, as a society, globally, including the health of the planet that we inhabit. They are especially drawn to Empaths and Highly Sensitive People due to their kind, caring, empathic and compassionate nature. Those mentioned above all share core Narcissistic personality, thinking, and emotional and interpersonal characteristics.
Dr. Christiane Northrup has written a book called “Dodging Energy Vampires, “shedding lots of light on this phenomenon. She says, “It is interesting to note that the ratio of male to female vampires is about 4:1, but fully 20 percent of all people (male and female) have vampire characteristics or are full-blown Cluster Bs. That’s one in five people, and each one of those directly and adversely affects five people.” That is a lot of people impacted and harmed!
It is only in the past 25 years or so that energy vampires have been clearly identified by the mental health profession, says Dr. Christiane Northrup. That is why so many of them have successfully continued to manipulate their families and society in general. Awareness is the key!
How does Narcissism develop?
During the first three years of life, we need to feel safe and secure with our parents or caregivers. Arielle Swartz says, “this allows us to develop a healthy sense of self that forms the foundation for our ability to develop meaningful, healthy relationships with others.” If we experience fear, unpredictability, uncertainty, neglect, rage, indifference, abuse, emotional unavailability, etc., the natural attachment process can be disrupted, causing trauma, resulting in deep and lasting challenges for those that have experienced it (until it’s dealt with).
Stacy Hoch says attachment issues halted the development in the Codependent and the Narcissist. She refers to them as, “the flip side of the coin” and says, due to their inner wounding a Codependent gives to feel worthy. The narcissist takes to feel worthy and, Narcissists escape the void that they feel on the inside by consumption to fill it. Codependents escape the void that they feel via self-abandonment and self-rejection, but the escape is an escape just the same. Both are deficient in self-love. Ross Rosenburg wrote a book called “The Human Magnet Syndrome,” which describes the unconscious, energetic pull toward each other that stems from the inner wounding of a Codependent and a Narcissist.
Dr Christiane Northrup offers a different perspective, and that is, modern brain scans suggest that many of those with Cluster B Personalities (including Pathological Narcissists) are born this way. She says, though they might have experienced childhood trauma, this does not explain their lack of compassion and lack of conscience- most people from traumatic backgrounds know right from wrong. The conscience is supposed to develop around the age of 3 or so, and in this case, it does not. She says it is not caused by a biochemical imbalance; it is a character problem.
The Characteristics of a Pathological Narcissist:
Narcissism is not a diagnosis; it’s a pattern, explains Dr. Ramani Durvasula. Further, the diagnosis of a narcissistic personality disorder requires that the person have pathological personality traits, including antagonism, which is characterized by grandiosity, entitlement, self-centeredness, firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others, being condescending towards others as well as attention-seeking, excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of attention of others, including admiration, and validation seeking. Further, these personality patterns need to be stable across time and consistent across situations, such as at work, home, public, and family.
Narcissism is broadly characterized by a lack of interpersonal awareness, interpersonal antagonism, dysregulated moods, and the core pillars of narcissism: lack of empathy, entitlement, grandiosity, validation seeking, and dysregulation. There are eight typical patterns within a narcissist’s interpersonal features; lack of empathy, manipulation, projection, lying, poor boundaries, jealousy, gaslighting and controlling.
Lack of empathy is the lack of interest in or capacity to understand others’ feelings and experiences. Narcissists may be cognitively capable of empathy, but they do not shape their behaviour in accordance with empathy, says Dr. Ramani Durvasula. Ross Rosenburg says, “Pathological Narcissists are only empathetic or sensitive to others when doing so results in a tangible reward for themselves and/or when it makes them feel valued, important, and appreciated.” They will watch us, study us, observe us, and gather data to assess our vulnerabilities. Once they understand these vulnerabilities, they will exploit them/us and use them to their advantage. All the while, we think that in sharing our vulnerabilities with them that they are being honoured and protected. Nope. They know what to say to figure out how to draw someone in and get them to trust them to gain control in the relationship. Finding this out is very damaging and confusing on so many levels.
There are 30 traits and patterns of Narcissists and other toxic people that fall under five categories (interpersonal, behavioural, dysregulation, antagonistic, cognitive), and there are subtypes of Narcissists; Grandiose, Malignant, Covert/Vulnerable, Communal, and Benign).
Overt narcissists’ grandiosity is apparent and easy to recognize. With Covert narcissists, grandiosity is hidden. Debbie Mirza says that “the covert type is one of the most destructive to your heart, psyche, and physical body because it is so hidden, unrecognizable, and you are usually the only one that sees it.”
- Lack of empathy. They mirror others’ emotions and learn to act empathetically.
- They take advantage of others to achieve their own personal gain.
- They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and are self-centred.
- They feel superior to others, feel that they are “special,” act entitled (as if the world owes them), and can be arrogant.
- They lack true compassion and true remorse.
- They think they are perfect.
- They often exhibit vengeful behaviour, are frequently angry, lack remorse, and are incapable of intimate relationships. they often exploit others through deceit; Debbie Mirza says, “They will look you in the eyes, making you feel special and heard, make sounds and give looks that tell you they care, but they really don’t.”
- They are master manipulators- masters at using specific interpersonal manoeuvres or tactics to gain an advantage over you (more on that soon).
- They know exactly what they are doing.
- They do not have a strong sense of self.
- They have fantasies of power, success and attractiveness.
- They require and crave excessive admiration, fame, and recognition.
- “Looking good’ to others is one of their most cherished values.
- They thrive off the attention of others.
- They can be pathological liars.
Debbie Mirza wrote a book on Covert Narcissists, describing them as often being well-liked, charming, charismatic, kind, appearing humble and empathetic, being good listeners and appearing to really care. “You can feel incredibly loved by them, and they simultaneously make you feel terrible about yourself. They use cloaked tactics that you don’t see for years.
Coverts hide all these attributes so people will like and trust them. They know if they are obvious about their self-absorbed traits, people won’t like them. They know they must appear humble to be liked and revered. They know how to play people and how to charm them.”
This is why they are so tricky because their true selves and true intentions are deeply hidden behind a shiny exterior. Dr. Ramani says charm, charisma, confidence, attractiveness, success, intelligence, and articulateness in human beings are equivalent to colourful feathers and camouflage in animals. They draw people into “their web”, and unless we are aware, we can get drawn in. This is not a place that we want or need to be.
Other Traits and Characteristics to be Aware of:
- Blaming others for their own hurtful actions and refusing to take responsibility for their behaviour.
- Trying to protect our inner wounding by projecting and being defensive.
- Minimizing, telling half-truths, and outright lying.
- Creating drama, chaos and confusion (to knock us off centre), while saying how much they hate drama. “In fact, they flourish under conditions of insecurity and chaos.” (Dr. Ramani).
- You are never allowed to disagree with them. So confronting any weakness in them or suggesting an area of improvement is often met with stonewalling or rage (Christiane Northrup).
- They rage, lie, intimidate, control, manipulate, criticize, belittle, hoover, project onto you (their issues), use people, confuse them, are demanding and entitled, and likely jealous and envious.
- What they say does not match their actions.
- They might use “future faking” to help create the illusion of a future together, to keep you hooked.
They use others for their “narcissistic supply” as they cannot get it on their own. Dr. Ramani Durvasula writes, “people that think or act as if they are amazing are their energy supply. They have people around them that adore them, respect them, revere them, see them as special and almost perfect, and in some cases seem to worship them”, but what is actually behind it is deep insecurity. They prey on insecurity on others, and as a result, they also create more insecurity in the world.
-They hurt and do a lot of harm to those around them and society at large. They make others feel uncomfortable, confuse them, cause deep self-doubt in others, emotionally and often financially abuse them, fool them, knock them off centre, tank their self-esteem, incite fear, sadness, anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, helplessness and other emotions.
Whatever it takes to get what they need, it’s at the expense of others. Those who have developed Codependency’s coping strategy are often insecure (due to their inner wounds), kind, trusting, giving, and forgiving, which makes them perfect targets for these people until they wake up, that is!
Empaths have a natural propensity to trust people and see the good in them (especially “Old Soul” empaths, according to Dr. Christiane Northrup). “Trust others until they give you a reason not to trust” is how I used to live my life. Now, I go by “show me you are trustworthy, and if so, I will trust you.” Narcissists want to create havoc and confusion (cognitive dissonance) in people, and self-doubt is their strategy. I now really pay close attention to people’s actions and energy and do not rely solely on their words (as I did before), as words can easily be manipulated and twisted. The more deeply we know and understand Pathological Narcissists’ traits, characteristics, and tactics and how they operate, the more aware and empowered we will all be.
My goal and mission:
I have found Emotional Freedom Techniques and Pranic Healing to be absolutely invaluable tools in assisting in resolving the energetic damage and resonance of such people and interactions, as well as the conflicting beliefs (cognitive dissonance) that accompany it. These modalities also assist in processing and dissolving the disbelief, shock, confusion, hurt, pain, etc. Reach out and schedule a free 15-minute call or email email@example.com
We ALL deserve to be treated kindly, respectfully, lovingly and to be involved with, and spend time with, people who are honest, authentic, genuine, and speak and embody the truth. I wholeheartedly wish this for you on your healing and wholeness journey!!
*Energy Therapies, such as EFT and Pranic Healing, are not substitutes for professional medical, psychological or psychiatric care.
- Healing From Narcissistic Abuse
- How to Understand & Identify Narcissistic Abuse
- What is Codependency?
- Healing and Understanding Codependency
- What is an Empath?
- What is Pranic Healing?
- What is Emotional Freedom Technique?
- What is a Highly Sensitive Person?
- Durvasula, Ramani S. “Don’t you know who I am?” How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Post Hill Press. 2019.
- Forward, Susan. Mothers Who Can’t Love (pp. 33-34). Harper. Kindle Edition.
- Hoch, Stacy. The Empath, the Codependent and the Narcissist: Who’s What? YouTube.
- Makenzie, Jackson. Psychopath Free. Berkley Books, New York. 2015.
- Mirza, Debbie. The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist: Recognizing the Traits and Finding Healing After Hidden Emotional and Psychological Abuse (p. 10, 14-18). Safe Place Publishing. Kindle Edition.
- Northrup, Christiane. Dodging Energy Vampires (p., 69, 81). Hay House. Kindle Edition
- Romano, Lisa. The Breakthrough Life Coach. YouTube.
- Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT, Ross. The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap. Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
- Schwartz, Arielle Dr Complex PTSD and Attachment Trauma (article). Oct 2019.