The Narcissism Tree of Strife: Covert and Overt Narcissism

When one gets entangled with a Narcissist as a primary source intimate partner,  the relationship, from the Narcissist’s point of view, lasts until one party “dies”. The research advises to go No Contact with such person, but has not addressed this problem when such relationship develops online (which is also known as “catfishing”), especially when the Narcissist has access to technological resources that supersede your own and won’t come forward to meet you face to face.

Unfortunately, most literature is silent when it pertains to a Narcissist’s encounter conducted online as this type of relationship is less about the physical aspects of a relationship but conducted in the mental, emotional realm.

However, if you have never met your online predator in person, you may come to realize you are swimming in a sea of approximately seven billion suspects which is rather daunting, as anyone can make a fake profile online easily living behind a mask of illusion.

The world wide web poses no limitations to a facade of grandiosity. Let’s be realistic: anyone can create multiple user accounts from a single IP with most non the wiser. As the millennial generation umbrellas under a facade via social networking in general, it is also an attractive allure for Narcissists.

With that being said, we typically associate Narcissistic predators roaming in bars, gyms,  and charity functions and do not stop to consider the types of Narcissists who target online victims.

In phycology, the different types of Narcissists are distinguished as either overt or covert.

Overt Narcissism 

Amy Adam states in her article The Difference Between Overt And Covert Narcissistic Personality Disorder“Overt narcissism is the most obvious of narcissistic personality disorders. The overt narcissistic personality is arrogant, boastful and demanding. This narcissistic personality is often an exhibitionist, and can be offended if not fed energy and attention, or as a result of receiving criticism or slights real or imagined. The overt narcissist has rage very close to the surface and can when not getting his or her way.”

Overt Narcissist’s are more relative to objectification, where the facade is mandatory for his or her existence. This is the most common type of Narcissist from people’s perspective of Narcissism.

Covert Narcissism

Adam continues, “The covert narcissist is the ‘shy’ narcissist, but no less dangerous and painful to become involved with. The covert narcissistic personality like the overt narcissistic personality has deep feelings of unworthiness and shame. The covert narcissist however lacks the manufactured confidence to present a grandiose false self to the world, so retreats to his inner world to live out his or her pathological fantasies.”

Thus, it is the covert narcissist whom online victims can strangely encounter.


The general information that one can obtain legally over the Internet is mind-boggling astoundingly scary. In the follow diagram above, it would only take a few Narcissists to completely invade someone’s life based on information that is usually public online.

Think about it…how guarded are your privacy settings on Facebook? What about LinkedIn where all your professional connections can be viewed? The possibilities are endless, and a covert narcissist who has computer skills can be even more of a nightmare.

As a start, I always recommend that people who think they may be a target, spend a day or so combing through the Internet and strengthen their privacy settings, remove unwanted pictures, and change their passwords.

In the end, a little bit of effort can deter a predator who hopefully will not come after you.

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