The Closet Narcissist

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    Narcissism has many different shades and characteristics. Among the most common are the overt, in your face, grandiose type. This involves intimidation, bullying, a need for attention and externalised anger. The other being the covert or vulnerable type. This involves playing on your guilt in order to manipulate you, being distant and an internalised anger.

    Closet Narcissism
    Closet Narcissist

    As is common with all shades of narcissism though, the closet narcissist has similar traits, beliefs and behaviours. However with one difference. The centre of attention is not themselves but someone else. They may employ the same strategies other kinds of narcissists. Strategies to disempower and devalue their victims. However, rather than to feel better about themselves they do it in order to bask in the glory of someone else. It is like a kind of worship. This could typically be towards a parent or family, an idealised partner or organisation.


    Like all narcissists they can be hyper-sensitive to feelings of shame. If, for instance, someone were to point out a poor behaviour or character flaw in the person they worship they may become confused, ill, distant and cold. If the person does not retract their statement, they may perform an exaggerated illness or sadness. Exaggerated to the point where they want the world to end right now. They become disagreeable to the point where, even weeks after the complaint was made, they may explode in a narcissistic rage.

    The behaviour that was pointed out does not fit the narrative they have created for themselves about their idol. So, if they can’t be elusive or deny the behaviour, explain it away, blame the victim for their part in it then they will savagely attack them in order to alleviate the cognitive dissonance they are experiencing.

    It isn’t uncommon for a closet narcissist to have picked up behaviours and attitudes from the person they worship, for example a narcissistic parent. The fear and terror they feel from the rage and humiliation they might suffer has them trauma bonded to the point where they can’t even hold in their head a thought which might disagree with something they were told many years ago. For instance, a young teenager being warned not to drink or have sex may, as an adult live a life of self-denial and fear any kind of intimacy. The tactics they learned from the parent are used on their victims either overtly or covertly.


    The devotion to their idol is so strong the closet narcissists tends to live an unfulfilled life. Everything they do is to magnify their idol. They also want their partners, or victims, to also live unfulfilled lives. The fear being that if their or anyone else’s candle burns at all, it may outshine those whom they worship.

    This article was written by sentientcounselling