Reprinted from The One-Way Relationship Workbook: Step-by-Step Help for Coping With Narcissists, Egotistical Lovers, Toxic Coworkers, and Others Who Are Incredibly Self-Absorbed
By Neil Lavender, Ph.D. and Alan Cavaiola, Ph.D.
Not all narcissists are the same. Millon and Davis (1996) describe the following subtypes of people with NPD: the unprincipled narcissist, the amorous narcissist, the compensatory narcissist, and the elitist narcissist. As you read about these subtypes, see if any seem similar to the person you have concerns about. Note that both men and women can fall into any of these categories, and the narcissist in your life may exhibit traits of more than one subtype.
The Unprincipled Narcissist
What characterizes this group of narcissists is that they seem to be devoid of a conscience, or sense of right and wrong. They are often unconcerned with the welfare of others and are amoral, unscrupulous, and deceptive in their dealings with others. They exude an arrogant sense of self-worth and grandiosity. They are driven by a need to outwit others, which proves that they are smarter than those they prey on. It’s not unusual to find this type of narcissist in jails, prisons, and drug rehabilitation centers although many unprincipled narcissists go through life without running afoul of the law.
The Amorous Narcissist
Amorous narcissists have an erotic or seductive orientation. They construct and measure their self-worth around sexual conquests. They often run through a string of pathological relationships, casting aside the person they have just seduced only to look for their next conquest. Amorous narcissists are often known for being heartbreakers, as well as committing some rather outrageous acts, such as conning their sexual partners out of huge sums of money, pathological lying, and other types of fraudulent behavior. The amorous narcissist is truly the Don Juan character who compensates for deeper feelings of inadequacy by seducing others and taking them for all they’re worth. Each sexual conquest reinforces the amorous narcissist’s sense of self-worth and over-inflated self-image.
The Compensatory Narcissist
This type of narcissist is driven by a need to compensate for past hurts or childhood emotional wounds by creating an illusion of superiority. Compensatory narcissists live in a fantasy world of their own creation in which they “pursue the leading role in a false and imaginary theater” (Millon and Davis 1996, 411) rather than living their own lives. They are driven to enhance their self-esteem through what are often imagined achievements. In order to achieve this goal for prestige, compensatory narcissists need an audience of others who will buy into their deception. In fact, compensatory narcissists are often hypervigilant or highly sensitive to how others react or perceive them, often watching or carefully listening for any signs of criticism or disdain.
The Elitist Narcissist
In some ways similar to the compensatory narcissist, elitist narcissists are often obsessed with their own inflated self-image. They often create a false sense of self that bears little resemblance to their actual selves, yet they manage to convince themselves (and often those around them) of their unique talents and abilities. They feel empowered and entitled to special treatment because of whatever status or pseudo-achievements they may have attained. Elitist narcissists often turn relationships into competitions or contests, whether they are work relationships, friendships, or even love relationships. Here the goal is winning, no matter what the means or cost, in order to prove to others (and themselves) their incomparable superiority. Elitist narcissists are often social climbers and they think nothing of stepping on or over anyone in their quest for fame and status. They are very adept at marketing themselves and will not shrink from any opportunity to do so. Because elitist narcissists hold themselves in such high regard, they see little need to listen to others or follow directions.