Saturday, July 16, 2016

subject egoistic and object altruistic narcissism - over vs. covert narcissism

There's a large amount of writing on narcissism out there and when I explored the literature a few years ago I thought a lot of the binaries seemed artificial.

I came across overt vs. covert distinction before, but the material I looked at had made it seem like a position in which a person was either one or the other. The will to power and narcissism was assumed to be everyone's depth structure.

The difference reminds me of the difference between the choleric and sanguine humors as interpreted by Hegel which I linked to subject egoism and object altruism (active-egoistic and passive-egoistic respectively).

What's interesting for me is that at the phallic oedipal stage that the inter-mixing of the egoistic and altruistic poles is nearing completion so that each libidinal position can have a pale form of the narcissism or echoism of the others.

The SE's egoistic narcissism in which mastery of one's profession or skill is manifested (and motivated by competition) and the OA's egoistic dilletantism or aptly titled "headline knowledge," the narcissism is comparable to the narcissism of the object egoist and subject altruist. I've worked with many passive-egoistic SAs for whom an older sister's arrogance or judgmental traits provoke competition and anger. Like the OAs dilettantism and inadequacy feelings, the SA too doesn't really have confidence in her beauty and taste...

these contrasts are valid, but the deutero effects on the personality aren't clearly separated from proto functioning.

The difference between a compulsive proto SE and a more inspiring deutero SE is very striking in people, just as the OA who wants to fit in vs. the OA who strikes one as more lovable is a big difference.  

Anyway, I thought I'd share some material and the link I found it at

  Self-ConceptGrandiosity;    preoccupation with fantasies of outstanding success; undue sense of uniqueness; feelings of entitlement; seeming self-sufficiencyInferiority; morose self-doubts; marked propensity toward feeling ashamed; fragility; relentless search for glory and power; marked sensitivity to criticism and realistic setbacks
Numerous but shallow relationships; intense need for tribute from others; scorn for others, often masked by pseudohumility; lack of empathy; inability to genuinely participate in group activities; valuing of children over spouse in family lifeInability to genuinely depend on others and trust them; chronic envy of others� talents, possessions, and capacity for deep object relations; lack of regard for generational boundaries; disregard for others� time; refusal to answer letters
Socially charming; often successful; consistent hard work done mainly to seek admiration (�pseudo- sublimation�); intense ambition; preoccupation with appearances Nagging aimlessness; shallow vocational commitment; dilettante-like attitude; multiple but superficial interests; chronic boredom; aesthetic taste often ill-informed and imitative
Caricatured modesty; pretended contempt for money in real life; idiosyncratically and unevenly moral; apparent enthusiasm for sociopolitical affairs   Readiness to shift values to gain favor; pathological lying; materialistic lifestyle; delinquent tendencies; inordinate ethnic and moral relativism; irreverence toward authority
Marital instability; cold and greedy seductiveness; extramarital affairs and promiscuity; uninhibited sexual lifeInability to remain in love; impaired capacity for viewing the romantic partner as a separate individual with his or her own interests, rights, and values; inability to genuinely comprehend the incest taboo; occasional sexual perversions
Impressively knowledgeable; decisive and opinionated; often strikingly articulate; egocentric perception of reality; love of language; fondness for shortcuts to acquisition of knowledgeKnowledge often limited to trivia (�headline intelligence�); forgetful of details, especially names; impaired in the capacity for learning new skills; tendency to change meanings of reality when facing a threat to self-esteem; language and speaking used for regulating self-esteem
NOTE:  This chart originally appeared in Akhtar, S. J. (1989). Narcissistic personality disorder: Descriptive features and differential diagnosis. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 12, pp. 505-530.

A Covert/Shy Narcissist will have grandiose fantasies but will also be plagued by a feeling of unworthiness and thus shame for even having fantasized about his or her �greatness.�  This type of narcissist, �is likely to be characterized by an incapacity to sustain ambitions or to pursue even attainable goals with full dedication, yielding to others rewards that he or she may legitimately deserve.  The final result is often significant masochistic self-damage, self-pity, feelings of hurt, and depression

While feeling they deserve to be recognized for their specialness, unlike the Arrogant/Overt Narcissist, the Covert/Shy Narcissist is plagued by self-doubts and thus does not as readily seek the affirmation from others he or she believes is due.  Moreover, because of this strong sense of worthlessness, this type of narcissist often will not seek out appropriate friends or romantic partners because they fear exposure as frauds; for this reason their associates tend to be conspicuously inferior to themselves.  Cooper observes that this narcissist, �secretly harbors fantasies that he or she is engaged in a heroic rescue of someone of lesser capabilities.�  And, when their friends and associates offer praise, the Shy/Covert Narcissist believes that this admiration is phony and insincere.  They tend to devote a considerable amount of time ruminating over the unfairness of how little their true worth is appreciated and how others get the recognition for things that they themselves did.

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