Two videos: one from Brene Brown on how empathy differs from sympathy. The second, a TED talk, on how narcissists lack empathy, and how ordinary narcissism differs from covert narcissism.
How are Covert Narcissists different from the garden-variety kind? According to Spartan Life Coach
You are Told: Narcissists are always brash, loud, assertive, flashy and Confident.
The problem is: Coverts are quiet, insecure and passive.
You are Told: Narcissists will never apologize for things they do.
The problem is: Coverts can learn that a quick and TOTAL apology is a really slick way of getting their target to “go back to sleep” if it looks like they are waking up.
You are told: Narcissists are ambitious, successful, go-getters full of energy and pumped with charismatic charm.
The problem is: Coverts are marked by failed ambition, chronic feelings of emptiness, fragility, low functioning and when depleted can frequently sink into outright depression.
You are told: Narcissists can be detected because they will always tell you how amazing they are and by bragging about their achievements.
The problem is: Coverts are known for presenting themselves as vulnerable victims who can even use that vulnerability as a hook to bait you in!
The article goes on to say that while the overt narcissist believes they are awesome, the world largely agrees with them. On the other hand, the covert narcissist believes they are awesome and the world largely disagrees with them. Narcissistic supply is scarce, forcing them to be more cunning and deceptive than the overt narcissist.
PSYCHOLOGY TODAY offers the Seven Signs of a Covert Narcissist. A key differentiator is passive-aggressiveness.
Some introverted narcissists deal with disagreeable people or circumstances in passive-aggressive ways. Upon receiving a reasonable request from you, they might say ‘okay,’ “yes,” “of course,” or “as you wish,” then either do nothing, or behave however they please. When you inquire why they didn’t follow-through on an arrangement, they may shrug it off with an excuse, or say nonchalantly that their way is better.
Perhaps SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN said it best. “23 signs You a Covert Narcissist Masquerading as Sensitive Introvert”
In a post on The Narcissistic Life, Amanda says in the comments:
Gary, thank you for bringing up the Empath. As a daughter and sister of Narcissists, I do not see myself as an “inverted narcissist.” After a failed marriage of 24 years, I was told my ex was a narcissist. The signs were all there right in front of me, but I couldn’t see them or didn’t want to. Since the divorce I have been in a few relationships and most were narcissistic. The Narcissist is attracted to the Empath so they can gain control, power and they know the Empath will submit. The last relationship lasted for 2 years instead of 24 and he is a sociopathic/narcissist. The signs were there, but I ignored them because the “love bombing” was intoxicating and almost suffocating. I believed every word he said.
When he began to tire of me he started finding ways so I would push him out of my life. I ended up telling him he had 24 hours to get his things. I already knew he had shut me down or “discarded” me..
I can see my part in the desire for being loved from these type of men. Since I couldn’t find that in my dad and brothers, I sought this need through men.
In each relationship, there is a longing to show and express love, but they don’t seem to want this love. Maybe I never was able to attach to my dad because he was not able to love himself. As his daughter, I could sense this and tried over and over I tried to tell him how wonderful he is and how much he is loved.
He has never accepted this from me or accepted this within himself.
Commenter Tmoney goes on to say:
… “the inverted narcissist is a person who grew up enthralled by the narcissistic parent … the child becomes a masterful provider of Narcissistic Supply, a perfect match to the parent’s personality.” is what sets it apart. The Empath is never looking to feel like a masterful provider (someone with power over someone else), Empaths serve because they want to, its natural. Its not a way to control people.
The Inverted Narcissist is ultimately seeking to feel POWERFUL by having a Narcissist depend on them. (Because if they are the supply, they can manipulate the one who needs it.)
The Empath is seeking to feel LOVED by having someone depend on them.
This is why I feel they are separate beings/personality types. I THINK THEY CALL THEM MIRROR NARCISSISTS BECAUSE THEY PUSH AND PULL JUST AS MUCH AS THE NARCISSIST DOES, SO THEY ARE THEIR EQUAL OPPOSITE.
EMPATHS ON THE OTHER HAND ARE NOT PUSHING AND PULLING SO THEY ARE DIRECT OPPOSITES TO NARCISSISTS. THEY ARE THE LACK OF PULL/PUSH TO THE NARCISSIST’S PULL/PUSH. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but that’s the only way I can describe it.
Inverted Narcissists and Narcissists play an equal tug of war. Narcissists invite Empaths to play tug of war and the Empaths drop the rope, which is why the Narcissists find them so interesting.