Do Narcissists Cry? Read on to find out.
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The Spectrum of Narcissism
Narcissism exists on a spectrum.
This means that some people can have a more severe or mild form of narcissism.
Some narcissists are easier to live with than others.
Some people with narcissism are otherwise healthy people with a slightly inflated sense of self.
Is Narcissism Caused By Nature Or By Nurture?
Narcissism, like any other psychological issue, can have more than one known cause. It can be nature or nurture.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
A narcissist isn’t necessarily a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD.
The official diagnosis of NPD requires that the person meet the diagnostic criteria as stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR):
“A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration.
5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”
Note: Only a licensed professional in the field of mental health can make a diagnosis of any personality disorder, including NPD.
Do Narcissists Cry?
The narcissist does feel sad and cries.
But not for the same reasons that you and I do.
Because of their lack of empathy and their need to manipulate, they’re more likely to use their tears to manipulate other people.
Covert narcissists are more likely to cry than those who display overt narcissism.
Related: Is My Mother A Narcissist Quiz
Types Of Narcissists
Depending on whom you ask, there are different types of narcissists.
These different types share some common traits but differ in how their narcissism is displayed.
Some of the common types of narcissism include:
1. The Overt Narcissist
Also known as grandiose narcissism, overt narcissists believe that they’re superior and entitled to special treatment.
This makes them demand that others idealize them and indulge all their desires.
2. The Covert Narcissist
Covert or vulnerable or closet narcissists are less loud than overt narcissists.
They usually display feelings of low self-esteem and a higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety and shame.
However, they are still very self-focused and would often blame others and the world for their suffering.
Research suggests that covert and overt narcissism aren’t always mutually exclusive. That is, someone with overt narcissism might go through a period where they display covert narcissism behavior, for example.
The Narcissist’s False Self
Narcissism is a coping mechanism. It’s a mask that hides the narcissist’s true Self, even from them.
The narcissist won’t allow themselves to be vulnerable and experience deep emotional pain.
That is, even when they feel sad, they don’t allow themselves to fully feel their sadness.
Instead, they may indulge in blaming other people. They may feel angry at the world, etc.
In this sense, their tears are unlikely to come from genuine pain and sadness.
Reasons Narcissists Cry
To manipulate you into helping them or giving them what they want.
To shift the blame onto you and make you look bad.
To play the victim when confronted.
How Do Narcissists React When Upset?
If not crying, what would narcissists do to externalize their upset?
They manipulate, lash out, blame the world, or act compulsively as a way to self-soothe and avoid the pain of feeling their emotions.
Narcissists cry to manipulate rather than express genuine pain or sadness.
Being vulnerable and allowing themselves to feel their emotions feels scary.
Instead, the narcissist will use defense mechanisms, like rage, shifting the blame, guilt-tripping, and playing the victim.
Resources For Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
This podcast is devoted to understanding covert narcissistic abuse, its effect on the victims, and how to heal.
Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist, will help you spot red flags and heal from the narcissist in your life. The podcast features first-hand accounts from people who know this territory the best, the survivors.
Life with a narcissist is challenging, and Dr. Les Carter is here to assist. Whether you are feeling frustrated due to a narcissist’s inability to blend well or you are feeling constantly invalidated by their need for control and their lack of empathy, Dr. C is your resource.
Narcissism and its discontents | Ramani Durvasula
Managing a narcissist | Ann Barnes
The psychology of narcissism | W.Keith Campbell
The narcissist deception | Ben Bradley
What we can learn from narcissists | Keith Campbell
- Narcissism study sheds new light on the relationship between grandiose and vulnerable subtypes (psypost.org)
- Study shows Narcissistic Personality Disorder may have a biological component – UChicago Medicine
- Narcissistic personality disorder – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
- Frontiers | The Higher the Score, the Darker the Core: The Nonlinear Association Between Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissism | Psychology (frontiersin.org)
- (PDF) Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Impact on Relationships (researchgate.net)
- Mediation effect of narcissism on the relationship between empathy and the quality of interpersonal relationships – ScienceDirect
- Narcissism: 5 Signs to Help You Spot Narcissistic Behavior (webmd.com)
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