If you tell them you think they are a narcissist, your days will be numbered. They won't consider that you might have a point. Instead, they will make a mental note to get rid of you as soon as possible. Their MO is to replace insubordinate with someone fresh, who doesn't destabilize their fragile sense of self.
An often effective way to point out a person's narcissism, while at the same time allowing the individual flexibility to change, is to separate the behavior from the person. For instance, instead of stating “you're a narcissist,” say “you're acting like a narcissist,” or “this [specify the behavior] is narcissistic.”
If you call out the narcissist about anything they feel like could expose them, expect rage. This could be commenting on their behaviors or calling them out on a lie. The narcissist rages to push people away and shut down any and all further communication.
People with covert narcissism might make dismissive or sarcastic remarks and act as if they're above the criticism. But internally, they might feel empty, humiliated, or enraged. Criticism is a threat because it constitutes evidence that the person's negative view of themselves may actually be true.
Emotionally Fragile & Hypersensitive
If someone criticizes their work, family, or personality, the covert narcissist will respond with an extreme emotional reaction. They could be overly sad and despondent from even a minor comment.
The simple answer is “No.” If your intention is to get a narcissist to look at their own behavior (by telling them they are a narcissist), you will not receive the results you desire. Narcissists are incredibly insecure and suffer from low self-esteem underneath their bravado.
Although narcissists act superior to others and posture as beyond reproach, underneath their grandiose exteriors lurk their deepest fears: That they are flawed, illegitimate, and ordinary.
8 Triggers of a Narcissist's Rage
They feel that they've been criticized, even if the critique is constructive or said kindly. They're not the center of attention. They're caught breaking rules or not respecting boundaries. They're held accountable for their actions.
Among the weak points of a narcissist is the pain of being told “no.” As you've already seen, the one thing they need is to constantly be the center of attention. Furthermore, they want to be respected, admired, followed, and given power over everyone else around them.
Narcissists don't know they're hurting you. It doesn't even enter their minds. And, if you try to tell them how you feel, they get defensive and make you feel you're wrong again. In fact, they'll even rather “innocently” tell you: “I'm only trying to help you.”
Generally, they will resort to narcissistic rage (explosive or passive-aggressive) or denial. He or she may become enraged, deny everything, call you a liar, twist reality, blame you and then play the victim. You may be the recipient of rage and aggression or the victim of The Silent Treatment.
A covert narcissist lives with the need for admiration and validation, an unstable sense of self and self-importance, and emotional fragility. Their expression of these needs and vulnerability is more introverted and passive-aggressive than the typical or overt narcissist.
They think they're superior to others, even if they're quiet about it. Covert narcissists can tend to be shy, but this shyness may come from a quiet sense of superiority, or "secret grandiosity," according to the American Journal of Psychiatry. It may also stem from their deep insecurity.
The Covert Narcissist's Abusive Behaviors
These self-serving tactics can include gaslighting and distorting reality; manipulations to get what they want; showing contempt and giving the silent treatment; dominating and controlling their partner; and belittling and humiliating verbally and emotionally.
Gaslighters/narcissists are extremely sensitive to rejection. Any perceived slight can throw them into a tailspin. Many times, gaslighters/narcissists will be out for revenge. One of the most common ways gaslighters/narcissists attack those who reject them is by subjecting them to public humiliation.
Differences Between Covert Narcissists and Overt Narcissists
People with overt narcissism tend to display a high level of self-esteem and extraversion, while those with covert narcissism tend to have a lower sense of self-esteem which may result in defensiveness, feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness.
Narcissism tends to emerge as a psychological defence in response to excessive levels of parental criticism, abuse or neglect in early life. Narcissistic personalities tend to be formed by emotional injury as a result of overwhelming shame, loss or deprivation during childhood.
Manly finds it's best not to confront a narcissist directly. As difficult as it may be to constantly tiptoe around them, it can be better to manage their need to feel in charge. Don't try to direct them. Narcissists like to have control and often fear losing it.
They are very insecure and sensitive people, which means they can take offence very easily. This can end up in couples having the same arguments over and over again. Sometimes they are unaware of being abusive to their partners, but other times they will genuinely want to cause them harm.
Narcissists can feel emotional pain, but not usually in the same way as others. The emotional pain they may feel is usually related to underlying selfish needs. Underneath the displays of superiority and sense of entitlement, they often feel empty, powerless, and shameful, which they perceive as weakness.
When you don't depend on anyone to make money and you use your abundance to take care of yourself and not predators, you will always have the ability to control your own future. This is power, and pathologically envious narcissists are often turned off by it because it means they cannot easily control a victim.