What You Need to Know About Dealing With Narcissism

man wearing mask with mental health issue

As of late, there’s been a lot of online discussion on narcissism alongside vulnerable or covert narcissism. Questions about the difference between narcissism and covert narcissism are quite common. The information and discussion that’s already out there tend to be confusing, and with good reason. A lot of it is contradictory, and as with most other things, there’s also a lot of fake news.

Narcissism: Healthy vs Pathological

Having needs and motives that are narcissistic is inherent for all of us. When your self-esteem is good, that’s a positive thing. Any therapist will stand by that fact. 

There is such a thing as narcissism that’s healthy. That said, people with a high sense of self-esteem do not employ exploitative measures. They have a clear sense of empathy and concern, and their sense of their skills is on a realistic end. When there are areas of weakness that manifest, no humiliation is felt or seen.

Pathological narcissism sees potential that becomes compromised because of restlessness and boredom. However, a healthy self-image will be handled with no issue at all. Healthy narcissists do not engage in long periods of silence when their way is not followed, and no rule-breaking, self-serving narcissistic rage comes to pass either.

When an individual is narcissistic, for as long as they are healthily so, they will have ambitious goals and an ability for impassioned love.

Narcissism is measured in a number of ways, such as self-reports (even one that just has a single question). Part of the consideration also involves input from spouses and peers, as well as a thorough clinical interview.

Some researchers argue that problematic narcissism is essentially healthy narcissism taken to extremes. This is rather a murky territory, since healthy narcissism’s elements are typically not found in the pathological kind. Significant impairment is a key trait of pathological narcissism, while healthy narcissism includes the following elements:

  • Ambition
  • Achievement motivation
  • Adaptive functioning

Narcissism: Overt vs Covert

There are many opinions on the difference between covert and overt narcissists. For some experts, the distinction lies mainly in various modes of narcissistic vulnerability alongside an expression of narcissistic grandiosity. Overt or external elements manifest in expressed attitudes, emotions, and behaviour. Covert experiences, on the other hand, lie in needs, private feelings, motives, and cognitions. People that have pathological narcissism have both external and internal elements on full display.

Qualities of an overt narcissist include, but are not limited to:

  • Arrogant
  • Conceited
  • Dominant
  • Egotistical
  • Inconsiderate

On the other hand, covert narcissists are far more low-key. They are of the belief that they deserve praise due to their unique characteristics. Unlike their counterparts, they are far less likely to act that way on a majorly outward scale.


There is a common misconception that all narcissism is inherently bad. Many people go to online counselling or in-person therapy to handle such matters. In truth, there is actually such a thing as healthy narcissism. However, if it’s bothering you or you want to learn more about your condition, it’s always best to seek professional advice.

Are you looking for trustworthy counselling services in Cambridge, Ontario? Reach out to Chettiar Counseling today! We offer psychotherapy in a non-judgmental space that will help you process your emotions.