What do you do if you think that you may be a Narcissist, Overt or Covert or Otherwise?

“Hi, I took a study and found out I am a covert narcissist. Do you think there is anything I can do about this to change or is it hopeless? You can be honest.”



This question was asked of me by Anonymous (on tumblr). It’s not the first time someone has asked me something along these lines. In fact the main reason I started blogging about narcissism is due to a question like this.

A friend told me that their therapist had suggested that they may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and this friend wanted my opinion on whether I thought they could be a narcissist. They asked me for my opinion because I had spoken about my parents being narcissists. They also asked me to be honest…

Being honest with this friend proved to be a turning point in my life.

However being honest with them came later. On this particular occasion I opted for a more diplomatic tactic.

I told them that the fact that they entertained the notion that they could be a narcissist was proof that they probably were not a narcissist as those with NPD tend to be the last person on Earth who think they could be a narcissist – everyone else is a narcissist except them. I was sharing a common belief (myth) about it. A common belief about it which I agreed with to a certain extent because I grew up with narcissists and that’s how they view the world – everyone else is the problem, which is the cause of all their problems, they are never the problem and can’t even entertain the idea that they may be causing problems for others because of the problem they have (mostly with themselves which they project onto others) which causes others to create problems and be the problem for them.



NPD - treatment ?.

Perhaps the more honest assessment of what I did would be to say that I reacted to this friend’s question and the subtext of it – which was that they wanted me to reassure them that they were not a narcissist and did not have NPD and their therapist was wrong (and the therapist should be dumped because they were a ‘toxic’ person – a solution and conclusion many of those with NPD reach when they enter therapy – no wonder therapists who have had dealings with narcissists are so pessimistic about the treatment of NPD) – in the way that I had been trained to do by my Covert Narcissist mother.

To be even more honest – I may have been trained to react in a certain way to please a narcissist, but I chose to follow through on my training. I could excuse my behaviour by saying that I was not consciously aware of how well I had been trained (being a victim of a narcissist… is a narcissistic experience of sorts which can become… a personal experience of what it is like to have NPD, wherein the victim of a narcissist may become the victimiser, the narcissist, because of all being a victim of a narcissist entails – I both love and hate paradoxes), which is partly true, but… it is also partly untrue.

By the time I was interacting with this friend I was consciously aware of the degree to which I was a narcissist-enabler due to the 24/7 nurture my nature received from narcissists (who were that way because of the nurture their nature received) which shaped the course my nature took in developing itself.

Shortly before this interaction I had had a conversation with myself where I wondered if I actually had the ability to turn people into narcissists. That’s a rather grandiose and narcissistic thought, however it isn’t without foundation. It’s not as irrational as it seems. An event occurred which prompted this observation whereby someone who had seemed to not be a narcissist turned into an egomaniac thanks to me… over-stroking their ego (road to hell – good intentions) until they believed how great I was telling them that they were. The results of my ego-stroking them shocked me out of a pattern of behaviour and made me take a long hard look at myself and how I behaved with other people – was I the cause of what I experienced, was I the creator of my own version of hell – however it took a while for the situation and its consequences (which rippled on and on) to sink into to my rather thick head and figure things out in a more logical manner. I knew some of the thought was delusional, but not all of it… which was which?



situational awareness



I am digressing, perhaps to avoid answering the question. But I’m not avoiding it, rather I am answering it through a digression. Giving you some details which may seem extraneous but aren’t – these details are giving you some insight into the person to whom you’ve addressed the question, and may make you assess whether I am the right person of whom to ask such a question, as well as where I may be coming from when I answer you.

Now I will answer it directly.

First – Link me to this ‘study’ if it is available online. The study – who created it and what is the ‘true’ purpose of it? What questions did you answer or what were the tests which you took which resulted in your finding out that you were a Covert Narcissist?

Secondly – Such a test, why did it leave you with the question – Do you think there is anything I can do about this to change or is it hopeless? – without answering it for you? This sounds like an irresponsible study – so I would question its results. A responsible study would have given you options based on your results. It would have given you a safe place to go to find further information based on your results. A place which would allow you to understand what to do next, what options were available to you should you find, as you say you did, that you are a narcissist.

A place like this – Overcoming Narcissism, One Day at a a Time

Thirdly – What do you think? How do you feel about it? Much of what goes on behind the ‘facade’ of a narcissist is similar to what all humans experience. Just because you’re a narcissist (or may be a narcissist) does not mean that you don’t get the same rights which apply to all humans (and non-narcissists). The ability to change and a sense of hopelessness about being able to change… we all have access to those things. We also all have narcissistic traits and behaviours. Narcissism is a phase of development of all humans. It has a healthy side to it as well as an unhealthy side, as all traits, behaviours and phases of development have. Nothing is black or white… there are many shades in between.





So be careful that you aren’t diagnosing yourself with a problem which is actually not a problem (or not your problem but someone else’s). Being human and being alive is complicated, don’t expect it to be simple. And if you think you’re the only complex being on Earth… think again. We’re all a mess… some people hide it better than others and then make others feel bad about it.

Fourthly – Want me to be honest? Can you trust me to be honest? And what is honesty? Didn’t Billy Joel say it was such a lonely word?

There’s something I have an issue with which I’ve addressed before in my posts but which I then avoid because I know it might ‘trigger’ reactions which I really don’t want to deal with. I can be very cowardly, and can make my cowardice seem brave simply by being dishonest in a seemingly honest way.’To be honest (tbh)’ is the precursor to many a less than honest statement, just as ‘trust me’ is a red flag when someone says it… although not always. When such things are said… it is often worthwhile to pause and reflect. Think and think again. For yourself. And in other ways.
In some ways… we’re all narcissists… NPD is an extreme of that, a position on a spectrum (one which changes depending on the ’NPD’ diagnoser – expert, professional or otherwise).

Empathy – this is the clincher apparently which draws a line between narcissists and non-narcissists. However trying to define what empathy is… depends very much on who is defining it, usually based on themselves – which kind of negates empathy as it is the ability to see things from the perspective of another (while suspending your own perspective and judgment based on your perspective – which is a nigh on impossible thing to do).



True Empathy.


A tidbit for you – my first experience of empathy was taught to me by a narcissist – a covert narcissist, at that. I was a child being a child (children are natural narcissists, it is normal… it only becomes ‘abnormal’ when the child becomes an adult yet is still being a child inside of an adult – but even then, the ability to ‘grow-up’ is still available), wrapped up in myself and my experience of life and others, and I was told, and scolded for it, that I was being selfish. I was then lectured at length. I was indeed being selfish… and was made to see the error of my ways. I was ‘hating’ on someone because they appeared to me to be ‘hating’ on me. The narcissist gave me insight into the perspective of the other person – they had very narcissistic reasons for doing this, which would benefit them, because what they were pointing out was all about them in the end, however… – which I took on board and which led to this person whom I ‘hated’ and saw as a ‘hater’ becoming my best friend.

Once empathy was activated, I realised that the ‘hate’ between us was both of us being defensive, walls up with swords drawn, because we both wanted the other one to ‘like’ us but we thought we ‘disliked’ each other and acted (reacted) accordingly. That was a very valuable lesson… which I have consistently kept learning (because that’s life, being human… and we forget things but can always be reminded of them. relearn a lesson learned, make the same mistakes and level-up from that to make those mistakes again, but differently, and learn a different version of the same lesson – it’s copacetic).



essons to learn....etc.


In conclusion – Your situation is not hopeless… and you can change. It’s up to you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is recommended.



CBT - cognitive behavioral therapyvia Self Help – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.



Being consciously aware of yourself, your traits, behaviour, nature and the effect of nurture on your nature, and many other tangents and digressions from that, is key. Once you’re consciously aware of yourself… why you behave the way that you do, etc… you also become consciously aware of others, and why they behave the way that they do, etc. This is useful because… amongst other things… it may alert you to the motives hidden behind a study which helps you to find out that you’re a covert narcissist but then leaves you hopeless once you’ve found that out – perhaps that study was created by a narcissist or a Covert Narcissist (did you consider that?). And perhaps you should get a second, third, fourth and fifth opinion… but not from me. I was raised by narcissists which means – based on popular opinion and personal queries which often result in uncomfortable answers, that I could be a narcissist myself.


Being raised by narcissists is similar to being raised by wolves – What, were you raised by wolves?


Dear Anonymous… I hope this has helped in answering your question… my question to you is: How honest are you being with me? And how honest are you being with yourself? And… what is your measure of things such as honesty, that of yourself and of others, like me, and… of studies such as the one which revealed to you that you may be a Covert Narcissist?

Pause… reflect….broken_mirror_by_evapechmarie-d4w4xi2broken mirror by EvaPechmarie



Communication… is as complex as we are.

People have always strangely (according to me) felt that I might be able to understand them, be empathic and perhaps even sympathetic of them… I’m not as certain as they seem to be of my ability to do that, that which they require of me… and I’m even less certain of their ability to understand me, to empathise and perhaps even be sympathetic of me -I don’t ask for it which may be why they ask it of me… spaces are quickly filled, but what fills them… I’m uncertain… of many things..


20 thoughts on “What do you do if you think that you may be a Narcissist, Overt or Covert or Otherwise?

  1. I don’t know if I’m the one with the problem or if its him. When we started dating I would be late n he would take it out on the driver, now, he blames me for everything. He calls me a whore, dumb stupid, thickheaded and spat in my face 3 different times, kicked me in the ass two different ocassions( says he didn’t think I’d feel it since I have a big cushiony ass), hits me n says it didn’t hurt coz he didn’t do it too hard,he says hurtful things about things I’ve told him, he makes racist comments( I’m Kenyan he’s Greek) he says I make him rage when I don’t take his bad behaviour…is it me? Or is it him? Why do I attract guys like this? Is it my pattern or am I the narcissist n I’m too sick to see its me. I really love him. I miss him. I can’t imagine being with anyone else but I remember the stuff he said n did to me n I can’t stop crying. But if its me( n I knowan part of me attracted him coz iI’m missing something) I wanna fix it. I wanna be healthy. I think its me. Am I a narcissist. Can I be under hypnosis and take a narcissist test? I’m very assertive n don’t take shit…so I don’t think I’m codependent… Is it me? Am I the N? Pls help!!!!


    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      From what you’ve shared about this man, it is clear that he’s abusive and it sounds as though the abuse is escalating. There is no excuse for his behaviour. It is abuse, and you should not put up with it in any way, shape or form. It is not okay for him to treat you this way, no matter what. I realise that you love him, and that’s a very difficult position to be in.

      The questions which you’ve asked are ones which many people in similar situations ask of themselves. Victims of abuse often feel responsible for the abuse they are suffering at the hands of someone else, and if you love the person who is abusing you then you may make excuses for them and blame yourself. The abuser often blames the victim for what they do to them, that they would not treat you this way if you didn’t deserve it or didn’t cause it, reinforcing the idea that them hurting you is your fault.

      Many abusers give the impression that they are the victim of the person they are abusing. This can be confusing.

      This article gives an overview of that – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/200905/the-line-between-victims-and-abusers

      The way he is treating you and behaving is not your fault. He is completely responsible for his own behaviour.

      You are however responsible for taking care of yourself. You do not sound as though you are a narcissist, nor do you sound as though you are ‘sick’, you sound as though you are a victim of abuse.

      If you keep attracting abusive men, then it may be part of a pattern. If you grew up in an abusive home, if you were abused as a child, or witnessed the adults in your childhood being abusive to each other, these could cause you to gravitate towards abusive men and vice versa without being aware of it. This does not make it your fault that this has happened to you.

      I would recommend seeking professional help and counselling. Seeing a therapist to help you to answer the questions which you have, figure things out and be guided in the best way to recover. Joining a support group for victims of abuse, as they will understand what you are going through, and will support you in your healing process.

      If you are in Kenya, then I would suggest contacting – The Gender Violence Recovery Centre – http://gvrc.or.ke/


  2. “…empathy as it is the ability to see things from the perspective of another (while suspending your own perspective and judgment based on your perspective – which is a nigh on impossible thing to do)…”

    We may not be able to verify our accuracy when attempting to view the world through the eyes of another, but it is a mode of mind activity the empath engages in. For most of my life, I feel, I was doing that to such an extent that I didn’t even know what my own perspective was, or what my own feelings were. I seemed to lack judgment, even when I really needed it for self-preservation. Somewhere, I read that this state of ‘selflessness’ can result from narcissistic parenting. I, too, was shamed for being “selfish” as a child, at an age when narcissism is both natural and healthy, and it affected me profoundly.

    Life presents us with many choices, but we cannot choose how we are affected by our experiences.


    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      You have made some important points, which are especially pertinent to children of Narcissists.

      I was taught empathy – to view things from the perspective of others – by my Narcissist mother. She taught me how to do this so well that I lost my perspective almost entirely for the sake of hers, and others, particularly the perspective of others viewed by her. Once I realised what I was doing (and how she and others manipulated that, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously) to her benefit), which took a long time, I had to retrain myself, start from scratch. Take what I had learned of empathy and make it something useful, instructive, constructive, beneficial to me and others rather than something which crippled me and enabled others.

      I agree that – “Life presents us with many choices, but we cannot choose how we are affected by our experiences.” – however I would add a proviso, which is that if life keeps presenting us with the same or similar scenario, we can learn from our previous experiences, and can adapt how we are affected by our experiences, but it takes a conscious effort to do so.

      One of the more helpful tactics which I use with regards to empathy is to separate it from sympathy, and to use awareness when being empathic – be aware of what I am doing and how I am doing it.

      Respect boundaries between self and other.

      Be as conscious of my perspective as I am of that of others. Try to maintain a balance between the two, like on a seesaw.

      The latter is very useful for distinguishing between a narcissist and a non-narcissist. A narcissist only wants you to see their perspective and is completely disinterested in your perspective. A non-narcissist wants you to see their perspective, but they are also interested in your perspective, and they don’t mind if your perspective is different from theirs, in fact they might prefer that as it broadens their perspective.

      So empathy, when used consciously can help you to figure out who you are with.

      If your natural phase of healthy-narcissism development was interrupted and invaded, you may need to go through it again for a while to redress your inner balance – so you may need to go through a phase of narcissism, to figure out how the trait is healthy for you. This won’t erase the good habits, it won’t get rid of all the good your empathy has to offer you and others, it will help the bad habits become more balanced and therefore mitigate the effects of too much empathy for others and not enough towards yourself. Too much sympathy (sometimes confused with empathy) for others, not enough for yourself.

      If you’ve grown up feeling that anything you did for yourself was ‘selfish’ and therefore ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’… sometimes it requires a cure of indulging in what was viewed as ‘prohibited’ to balance the inner scales. Too much selflessness is equal to too much selfishness. And yes, children of narcissistic parents tend to end up being selfless to a self-destructive degree for the sake of their very selfish parents who twisted what was natural into something bad to serve their own twisted nature (they’re often passing on what was done to them when they were children – which is an unhealthy option, but often one which is viewed as being a choice which has no choice until it becomes conscious).

      The child of narcissists’ self-preservation tends to get subverted for the preservation of the self of the narcissistic parent. The child sacrifices their self for the sake of the parent’s self. Later the child as an adult continues the pattern until they realise that the pattern is killing them in some way – then it’s time to review and change the pattern. The hardest thing a child of narcissists does is to admit to themselves that they matter, that their life matters and is worth preserving and nurturing and allowing it to blossom.

      Take care of yourself, best wishes!


      1. I cannot express enough what this statement means to me. Never could I have vocolized or written anything close or in perfect words, to how I feel in my mind, my emotions, my mental, myself and who I am. This is me and I’ve struggled between selfless and selfish, never feeling ok with who I really am. Or even knowing. I wound up with a narcist bf and by grace of God came upon an article that made me realize what was happening in my relationship. I’ve googled everything and learn more everyday. So much to be said from one end of the spectrum to the other, ironically, like my own wandering mind of my self image. I can be weak to others pain, and carry it upon my life and my children’s, unfortunately as well. I also am tougher then shit and I always pull through, fortunately, with my kids!! I pray I don’t damage them in the ways I fret I may have been. I know I’m a hard ass, questioning what am I really…I know I’m not the same as him!! I just fucking know!
        It’s our Empath traits that flare a spark of doubt! I get it, but deep down, take. Look at your surroundings, family, friends and kids. You know what you are!


        1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

          I think that certain aspects of self-doubt are healthy for us as it keeps us flexible, open to learning, and it inspires us to get to know ourselves better in search of understanding which gives us new perspectives and which informs our empathy, but we need to be aware of when the self-doubt starts to chip away at us and becomes unhealthy for us. If it makes us feel bad about ourselves then it has crossed over a line and we need to doubt the doubt itself – question it rather than let it send us spiraling into too much self-questioning.

          When I find myself doubting to the point of picking on myself and pulling myself apart I take a time-out. It’s important to be compassionate with ourselves as that goes hand in hand with empathy. Self-compassion is the side of empathy which we give to ourselves.

          This is a great article about self-compassion – http://www.psychologymatters.asia/article/305/move-away-selfesteem-make-way-for-selfcompassion.html

          Empathy is a wonderful ability to have, and when used logically, with awareness, with balance, it can be healing for everyone. Understanding others is something which empathy helps us to do, and when we understand others it helps us to understand ourselves, and understanding ourselves helps us to understand others.

          Take good care of yourself!


  3. Here comes my narcissistic ramble, full of sound and fury…
    Smells of bull that a narc would suddenly discover his emotional deficiency and then so graciously ask for help, pretty laughable actually and of course would be a ploy, to some degree, even if it were to happen. Although a therapist told me that he had seen narcs transform while going through end of life situations—breaking down and often become wholesome to some degree; see Dickens Ebenezer Scrooge, and every practically every good theater act that shows just how powerful and potentially miraculous humans are. Anything is possible! On the other hand, ironically, I loath my inherited narcissistic traits, and those who betrayed my naiveté to the point self-absorption that is surly narcissistic—ironically even writing or reading too much about it is toxic—don your protective gear immediately. Over sensitized by our broken hearted inner child, via narc, we can became too empathetic, losing ourselves or even inventing a false-self, sound familiar, after all we were taught be the most powerful teachers in the world, parents.
    Anyway, a narc test! Really, why bother? Are we trying to fix them, to make them right, maybe they are right already but simply out of sync with the rest of the frigging universe and until they recognize there their “ghosts” in their consciousness (soul), they remain surviving in fear and loathing. But I think I may not be the one to ask, I still can’t even come close to understanding how I was raised and for what purpose I served, other than the one a gave myself in my make believe world I created that knew nothing of narcissism—that in itself is a delusional state of being loved I created to compensate for an emotional unavailability…whew me.


    1. There was a link doing the rounds a while ago that led to an article which humorously explored the overlaps between covert narcissists and HSP’s/sensitive introverts.


      This may be the ‘study’ to which the person who asked the question was referring as there is a quick questionnaire at the bottom of the article to test your covert narcissism quotient. It was not meant to be taken seriously or considered to be an official gauge for covert narcissism. It was simply part of a rant of sorts which the writer was having about the influx of info in the form of ‘listicles’ about Introversion. The tipping point for them was a list which suggested that Kanye West was a sensitive introvert rather than a narcissist.

      I would hazard a guess that if this person took a test like that, and they were honest in how they answered it knowing that it could reveal to them that they were a covert narcissist, and once it revealed to them that they may be a covert narcissist they accepted the possibility and decided to look into it – then they probably are not a narcissist, covert or overt or otherwise.

      Covert narcissists prefer to take the stance of playing the victim of a narcissist rather than playing a narcissist who is a victim of their own condition and is desperately seeking to cure their incurable problem. They’d be more likely to do the latter if there was a lot of attention and sympathy (narc supply) to be gained from doing it – which at this stage of the popular interest in NPD there is not. At this stage you only get sympathy and attention for being the victim of a narcissist, not for being a narcissist who wants to cure their personality disorder. If the trending tide shifts, so will the narcissists, particularly the covert ones.

      I think there are ways to ‘test’ whether someone is a narcissist or not, however such a test would have to take into account the fact that all humans have narcissistic traits, and there are extenuating circumstances which have bearing on how narcissistic a person is being at any given time, and whether their narcissism is healthy or not. I think a lot of people who do not have NPD are getting labeled as narcissists partly because it’s a trendy accusation which tends to give the person using it the ‘last word’ in an argument, and the accuser places themselves in an untouchable position from which they can then manipulate the other person, either directly or indirectly by spreading the word to others.

      You could almost make a logic problem out of it – If Jane accuses John of being a narcissist, and Jane then tells Mark, Mindy, and Sue that John is a narcissist, and Sue (triggered by her own personal painful experience of a romantic relationship with a narcissist from which she has yet to recover) then tells Tom, Mark (who is the child of a narcissist and has PTSD because of it) tells Robert and Mindy (who doesn’t think she knows any narcissists but is frightened because she’s heard such frightening stories about them) tells Melissa that John is a narcissist – is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

      I agree that reading and writing too much about the subject can be toxic – much of whether it is healing or harming depends on what purpose the reading and writing about it is serving for you. Are you poking a wound, festering in it or seeking to understand and find a way out of the wound. Are you getting something out of your system or putting something into it. It can be another version of addiction, to obsess over the narcissists in your life and what they did to you.

      I think for a child of narcissists, one of the turning points comes when we figure out how to untangle ourselves from our narc parents. So that our life becomes our life, and that includes our experience of growing up with narcs. It’s a tough one to tackle, but that’s when we find who we are, here, now, alive, as is. No frills.

      Take care of yourself, here, now, as is. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awsome insight and nicely conceaved…the untangling is the part that hurts becouse of heart fragments that must somehow be dislodged–from the childs mythic mind and who he became…love


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