Here are 4 different types of Narcissists.

08 Mar

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.


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16 responses to “Here are 4 different types of Narcissists.

  1. whatsaysyou

    March 20, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Thank you for this informative blog post on narcissists. Since you mentioned about elitist narcissist, my former flatmate from hell happens to be one of them and she always thinks her friends are competing against her everything from grades to boys (she is really pathetic) and she is willing to betray her friends and destroy her friendships with others all in the name of success.

  2. cheryl

    September 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Can a malignant narcisst exhibit traits from all four types?

    • nlavender

      September 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

      Absolutely, in fact mixed types are the most prevalent.

      • Stacey

        May 23, 2013 at 10:36 am

        Thank you! This was very informative and many light bulb moments!
        Where does the narcissist that projects fall in? Also is it common for narcissist to become presumptuous of things – such as I has a particular experience with who I think was a narcissists and became engaged to – during the planning of the wedding he became convinced that my family, in particular my mother was “telling me how things should be done” in other words I didn’t have an opinion of my own. Eg: I also wanted a small wedding but wanted certain people there who I consider family and he wanted a small (10 people max – when there were at least 15 people in my immediate family alone) wedding and kept saying that it’s my mums want for these people at the wedding. No matter what I did or said in trying to convince him that it was my wish he didn’t believe it and it was either his way or the high way.
        Where and how would you classify this kind of behavior?
        Also what are the main factors that develop such a person?

  3. Steve

    November 2, 2012 at 5:40 am

    I have endured that wrath of a collegue who appears representative of unprincipled and elitist types. I am doing everything I can to remove myself from my immediate work environment, as this person never ever gives up. Even when found to be undertaking in bad behaviour, s/he still comes out smelling like roses. Like a pit bull dog, unless you are willing to fight to the death, you need to walk away. The stories I could tell …

    • nlavender

      November 16, 2012 at 7:53 am

      So true. Thanks for your comment, some times it is best to create distance.

  4. John

    March 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I’m a little worried because I seem to have a lot of the traits from these sub-types, although I don’t usually go out of my way to do these things consciously. It’s more like they happen without me meaning to, especially the charming amorous behavior. Also I’m a little detached and lose interest in people easily, viewing people as easily replaceable…or when I find out what makes a person ticks…well I like to make them tick. I’m really hoping I don’t have NPD because everything says there is no cure, but then again I don’t see what’s wrong with the way I view life and it’s just society trying to put me in a box (excuse the cliche). I just don’t know because my life just seems great, nothing can go bad and I’m always feeling good and if something does go bad…I can pull myself out just by will power. So what’s wrong with being NPD? Oh and I noticed that there is always this lack of empathy but I do have empathy….but to a certain degree. And I have no personal close relationships but I do have a lot of friends and am the center of attention when I want it.

    • Sarah

      April 23, 2013 at 12:08 am

      I really appreciated reading your post John, and have been wanting to hear something honest and real from someone suspecting or diagnosed with various types of NPD. I am pretty sure I haven’t been diagnosed with any personality disorder but my ex husband of almost a decade has been accusing that of me and constantly taking me to court, noting I do to try and appease or satisfy the beast works.. I have learned a lot about inner self and how one loses confidence and gets broken down by these traits in people and often it is like myself and we tend to choose this type of trait even though it is not a good mix. I would like to hear more and hope you don’t mind but I feel that he is not always intentionally hurting me, just that he doesnt pick up on it as being a problem or the problem… I have tried every approach because I am one who doesnt like conflict, or making waves.. and is perceived to have my heart on my sleeve and skin that is thin and easy to bleed. I may have to make a choice to not be apart of it any more.. relocating and trying to maintain some type of connection with my children who have seen me go through hell trying to fix everything (not realistic I know) keep the peace and not cause emotional trauma to anyone else.. I cannot unfortunately fend off the constant critism and lack of ability to accept people in different circumstances as ok or not below his status. I hope so much someday it will stop but feel I will have to be in another state and hopefully not underground for him to finally feel like he’s won, or got what he intended to get. I really feel like you have something huge that he doesn’t and that is the ability to be honest and admit something that might be considered a flaw or negative.. I think you have great incite and really would like to read more coming from people diagnosed or questioning this type of personality. And in a way I wish sometimes I could be similar and feel the confidence and be unstoppable as far as what I say or do is right and should be accepted by everyone. lol I know it sounds ridiculousness but in this world it is sometimes scary to people like me to face the reality’s and harshness of society in modern times. That picked fence with cookie cutter lifestyles has always been my desire because it feels safe and familiar. I feel tthat I have been sheltered or in denial about many aspects of human kind.that are not pleasant to think about or even admit as truths. Sometimes it is more harmful to follow your gut or think that trust is something to be taken as a given even after you think you really know someone. I will keep trying to understand and hope that you keep writing.

      • Sammy Woodhouse

        September 22, 2013 at 9:37 pm

        My ex-husband is an amorous narcissist and it never did stop, almost thirty years later. While we were married, he got ever more perverted, trying to interest me in group sex and joining him in having couples’ swaps. I didn’t want to do any of it, but got dragged along anyway. He also became ever more perverse in what he found pleasurable, getting into whips, cuffs, and lube. He had multiple affairs behind my back, and when I found condoms on the bed and my money and lingerie stolen, he denied it and accused me of being crazy. I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to be a normal, middle class family, at least until the kids grew up, when we could split up, no problem. I even offered to let him do what my friend “Bob,” does, which is his wife gives him a girlfriend budget, and he has to be religious about rubbers. But “Jim,” would have none of it. So I divorced him, and because he made a lot more money than me, I got screwed by the legal system. But I knew that would happen, so accepting losses and moving on. But he had to have EVERYTHING, including all the kids, the house, all the money, and the admiration of friends and relatives far and wide for how great a dad he was! In truth, he treats the kids as slaves, and one by one they’ve escaped, to my house or the military, or college. But the charade goes on, and he keeps inviting women and couples over to the house for escapades in the hot tub, (God how I hate that thing!) the scene of most of his sexcapades. He’s left a trail of deceived, heartbroken women who believed his lies about being a single dad who was looking for a good wife, behind him, and some of his friends from high school and college won’t associate with him any more. One of them had dated my sister and seeing how he treated me (or maybe it was after Jim suggested a swinging couples date) he refused to ever talk to him again. Jim still calls and texts me daily to find out what I’m doing, and invites himself over if I don’t answer. He’s a consummate liar, and a gossip as well, spreading lies about me all over the community, which is unfortunately small. Every so often, I’ll strike up a casual conversation with a stranger in a public place, who will proceed to tell me a horror story about the guy he knows with the crazy wife who ran off… and they do a double take when they realize it’s me. One guy literally fell down, and another was so shocked he put the wrong end of his cigarette in his mouth. I’d love to live another state; another country if possible, but I won’t leave until the kids are all grown up. Joint custody, you know. Six more years to go, and this thirty year sentence of hell will finally be over. I’m trying to write a book about it, but I get so upset and angry that its slow going at best.

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  8. Steven

    September 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    After being in a relationship with a “classic” amorous Nacissist I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your rods. If only I could have read them a year or so earlier. Better late than never!

  9. Steven

    September 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I meant words, not rods.

  10. mary

    November 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    what type of narcissist is my husband. when I start it dating him I don’t know he was in a relation, after he ran when bomb exploded. never said anything like if never happen. he is a marine and left for training he forgot that i exist it . he travel around the world and have a many love affair’s I never knew about., he even purchase a home without my knowledge. het came home but never show up 1 st day, he hides and watch like a stalker for days ,. never told me when he is going to come home. my husband can be the perfect husband and at times he is so cold. distance is like if im living with 2 different mans. he took a trip and left for 2 weeks never said anything i was surprise when I find out that he went to paris. came back home like nothing happen. no remorse,never said anything. a few days I ask him why , all he said was “I did what I need it to do and don’t regret it” and walk away,. I don’t know why I waited for him and why I have put up with so much, at times he gets obsessive with anything and he don’t stop for days either car, comp, unlocking a phone is like he is not there., now he is going to school and he goes in his office and stay there for 5-6 hrs at a time with books. I feel sorry for him. I love him and at times I cant stand him, after he came back from marines he got worse to the point that I ask him for a divorce and at the end change the locks. but he still comes around. also I notice that he envy me I have manage to keep with mortgage , and all the house bills also got a new suv, and a motorcycle he got one 2 weeks after. then he sold it because he was broke, and blames me for house he lost and everything bad that happen to him. also said that im a lucky woman for having a man like him, he is so selfish,cold heart it is 2 people in one i have read about it and im trying to see if he really is or is something else. how can i get him help. any one please help.

  11. teri

    November 23, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Wow…my husband fits all four categories. We’ve been together/ married for 14 yrs. Im close to calling it quits before I completely lose myself. He is a great actor. Conviced me that he was confident, loyal etc. He is the opposite of everything he claims to be. It took me this long to wake up. Too tired to post the sordid details right now😦


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