Inverted Narcissist (Narcissist Codependent)

Uploaded 8/4/2010, approx. 8 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Codependents are people who depend on other people for their emotional gratification and for the performance of ego or even daily functions.

Codependents are needy, demanding, and submissive. They fear abandonment. They cling. And they display immature behaviors in an attempt to maintain the relationship with their companion or mate, upon whom they depend.

There is a type of codependent called inverted narcissist, or covert narcissist. It is the codependent who exclusively depends a narcissist, or, we can call it narcissist codependent.

No matter what abuse is inflicted upon the codependent, she remains in the relationship.

By eagerly becoming victims, codependents seek to control their victimizers.

If you are living with a narcissist, if you have a relationship with one, if you're married to a narcissist, if you're working with a narcissist, that does not mean that you are an inverted narcissist.

To qualify as an inverted narcissist, you must crave to be in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of any abuse inflicted on you by him

You must actively seek relationships with narcissists and only with narcissists, no matter what your bitter and traumatic past experiences have been.

You must feel empty and unhappy in relationships with any other kind of person who is not a narcissist.

Only then, and if you satisfy the other diagnostic criteria of dependent personality disorder, only then can you be safely labeled an inverted narcissist.

Pay attention.

Inverted narcissists are narcissists.

It is clear that hitherto there is a neglected type of narcissist, it is the self-effacing, the introverted narcissist.

This is a narcissist who, in many respects, is a mirror image of the classical narcissist.

The psychodynamics of the inverted narcissist are not clear and the development roots are not certain.

Inverted narcissist may be the product of an overweening and domineering parent or caregiver or perhaps excessive abuse leads to the repression of the narcissistic self-defense mechanism.

We don't know, but what we do know is that inverted narcissists are self-effacing, sensitive, emotionally fragile and sometimes socially phobic.

They derive all their self-esteem and sense of self-worth from the outside. They are pathologically envious. They are likely to intermittently engage in abusive and aggressive and violent behaviors, but they are more emotionally level than the classical narcissist.

We can distinguish three types of narcissists

One, the offspring of neglecting parents. The children of such parents default to narcissism as the prominent psychological defense mechanism against abuse and trauma.

Then we have the offspring of doting, smothering and domineering parents. These children internalize their parents' voices in the form of a sadistic, ideal and immature conscience and they spend their lives trying to be perfect, all-knowing, omnipotent, and to be judged as success by these parent images.

And then we have the offspring of abusive parents.

These children internalize the abusing, demeaning and contemptuous voices. They spend their lives in an effort to elicit counter voices from other people and in this way to regulate their self-esteem and fluctuating sense of self-worth.

It is possible to compose a set of criteria for the inverted narcissist by simply translating the criteria available in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for the classical narcissist.

So criteria number one would be the inverted narcissist possesses a rigid sense of lack of self-worth.

The inverted narcissist's sense of self-worth does not fluctuate as opposed to the narcissist's.

The inverted narcissist is rather stable but his self-confidence and self-esteem are very low.

Whereas the narcissist devalues others, the inverted narcissist devalues herself as an offering, as a sacrifice to the narcissist in her life.

The inverted narcissist preempts the narcissist by devaluing herself, by actively berating her own achievements or talents.

The inverted narcissist is exceedingly distressed when singled out for praise or when her actual accomplishments are acknowledged or when her superior skills are demonstrated. She is afraid that this might endanger her relationship with her narcissist.

The inverted narcissist is compelled to filter all her narcissistic needs through the primary narcissist in her life.

Independence or personal autonomy are not permitted by the narcissist.

The inverted narcissist feels amplified by the narcissist's own accomplishments and successes. She lives vicariously, by proxy as it were.

She lives someone else's life, her narcissist.

Criterion two would be the inverted narcissist is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance and beauty, or of an ideal love to be accomplished through the narcissistic partner, mate or spouse.

Again, inverted narcissist lives through the narcissist's life.

She needs him in order to feel that she has accomplished something in her life.

It is through his successes, accomplishments, standing in society that she feels enhanced, buttressed and well.

Criterion three, the inverted narcissist believe that she is absolutely not unique and not special.

Actually, she believes that she is worthless and unworthy of merger with a fantasized ideal which is the narcissist.

She believes that no one at all could understand her because she is innately unworthy of being understood.

The inverted narcissist becomes very agitated the more one tries to understand her because that also offends her against her righteous sense of being properly excluded from the human race. She feels an outcast.

Criterion four, inverted narcissist demands anonymity in the sense of seeking to remain excluded at all costs.

She's intensely irritated and uncomfortable with any mention being paid to her, with any praise and with any attention actually.

In this sense, inverted narcissism is very similar to the schizoid personality disorder.

Criterion five, the inverted narcissist feels that she is undeserving and not entitled to anything.

Remember that classical narcissists feel entitled to everything.

Inverted narcissist is a mirror image.

She feels not entitled to anything.

She feels that she's inferior to others, lacking, insubstantial, unworthy, unlikable, unappealing, unlovable, someone to scorn and dismiss and to ignore.

Criterion six, the inverted narcissist is extinguishingly selfless.

She's sacrificial.

She's even anxious in her interpersonal relationships. She avoids the assistance of others at all costs.

She can only interact with others when she can be seen to be giving, supportive and expanding an unusual effort to assist.

So she is sacrificial. She sacrifices herself, but ostentatiously in full view.

Criterion seven, the inverted narcissist lacks empathy like the classical narcissist.

She is intensely attuned to others' needs, but only insofar as it relates to her own need to perform the required self-sacrifice.

She needs to self-sacrifice in order to obtain her narcissistic supply from the primary narcissist.

She sacrifices herself to the narcissist and that's how she gets her narcissistic supply.

But to do so, she must be attuned to his needs.

So this is her restricted use or leverage of empathy.

Criterion eight, the inverted narcissist envies others.

She cannot conceive of being envied and becomes extremely agitated and uncomfortable if even brought into a situation where comparison might occur.

She loathes competition. She avoids competition at all costs.

If there is any chance of actually winning the competition or being singled out, she will stay away.

The last criterion, criterion nine, the inverted narcissist displays extreme shyness, lack of any real relational connections, is publicly self-effacing, is internally highly moralistic and critical of others, is a perfectionist.

She engages in lengthy ritualistic behaviors which can never be perfectly performed.

So in this sense, she's obsessive compulsive.

Notions of being individualistic are anathema to the inverted narcissist.

In many respects, inverted narcissist does not exist except through her primary narcissist, her narcissistic spouse or maid or companion.

In his absence, she is just a shadow waiting for the main body.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

So, Is My Narcissist a Covert Narcissist? Nonsense vs. Scholarship

Covert narcissists are individuals who suffer from an in-depth sense of inferiority, have a marked propensity towards feeling ashamed, and are shy and fragile. They are unable to genuinely depend on others or trust them, suffer from chronic envy of others, and have a lack of regard for generational boundaries. Covert narcissists are not goal-orientated, have shallow vocational commitment, and are forgetful of details, especially names. Inverted narcissists are a subspecies of covert narcissism and are self-centered, sensitive, vulnerable, and defensive, sometimes hostile and paranoid.

Confessions of Inverted Narcissists - Part 1 of 3

Inverted narcissists are codependents who depend exclusively on narcissism and crave to be in a relationship with a narcissist regardless of any abuse inflicted on them. Narcissists react to competition with pathological envy, and inverted narcissists tend to feel envious and resentful towards their partners. Narcissistic personality disorder is the inability to love oneself, and it is about having a profoundly negative self-image. Survivors of child abuse may develop a kind of codependence or narcissism, and they may experience intense envy and competition towards others.

Narcissists and Codependents: Same Problems, Different Solutions

Codependence and narcissism are pathological reactions to childhood abuse and trauma. The codependent has a realistic assessment of herself but a fantastic view of others, while the narcissist has a fantastic view of himself but a penetrating view of others. The codependent seeks validation to restore a sense of reality, while the narcissist seeks narcissistic supply to enhance his grandiosity. Inverted narcissists are a subtype of covert narcissists who team up with classic narcissists to obtain vicarious supply. The overwhelming majority of narcissists have codependent traits and are dependent on other people for their sense of self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image.

Confessions of Codependent Inverted Narcissists - Part 3 of 3

Inverted narcissists stick to narcissists because it is their psychological imprint and comfort zone. They feel more free and independent with a narcissist than without one. Inverted narcissism is not a form of full-fledged narcissism, but it shares some underlying patterns. Narcissism is a systemic pattern of responses that is so all-pervasive and so all-encompassing that it amounts to a personality disorder. It is important for inverted narcissists to become emotionally and financially independent.

External Regulation: Inverted Narcissist not Codependent or Borderline (with Daria Żukowska)

Inverted narcissism is a form of covert narcissism where the individual derives their narcissistic supply from an overt narcissist. They have a symbiotic relationship with the overt narcissist, as they receive attention and supply from them, even if it's in the form of abuse. Inverted narcissists are different from echoists, as they focus on self-annihilation and becoming their source of supply, while echoists are more focused on their own internal dynamics. Inverted narcissists are unlikely to become classic narcissists, as they are a subtype of covert narcissism and are more focused on obtaining supply in any form.

Confessions of Codependent Inverted Narcissists - Part 2 of 3

Inverted narcissists react positively to compliments and rewards, but can sometimes get stuck in bitterness and self-pity. They contest the diagnosis of inverted narcissism, seeing it as a partial form of the disorder with healthy parts still intact. Inverted narcissists experience self-pity and depression, and regret their behavior and admit mistakes. Their rage comes from feeling humiliated and inferior, not from repressed self-contempt.

Inner Voices, Narcissism, and Codependence

Narcissists and codependents possess introgets, which are inner voices that are mostly negative and sadistic. These voices enhance the narcissist's underlying ego destiny, rendering them unhappy with who they are and discontent with the way they act. The narcissist's sense of self-worth is affected by their sadistic and uncompromising superego, which affects their sense of self-worth and worthiness, self-knowledge, and self-confidence. The narcissist's whole life is an attempt to satisfy the demands of their inner tribunal and to prove their judgment wrong, which is at the root of their unresolved and unresolvable conflicts.

Misinformation: Covert vs. Classic Narcissist

Covert narcissists are not cunning or manipulative, but rather suppress their true nature due to a lack of confidence. They are their own worst critics and often feel guilty and ashamed of their aggressive urges. Covert narcissists team up with classic narcissists but secretly resent and envy them. Inverted narcissists are a type of covert narcissist who are self-centered, sensitive, vulnerable, and defensive, and crave relationships with narcissists despite any abuse inflicted on them.

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Narcissistic mothers can have a significant impact on their adult daughters' relationships, with children of narcissistic parents being ill-adapted and prone to deploying psychological defense mechanisms. They can become co-dependent, needy, demanding, and submissive, fearing abandonment and displaying immature behaviors. Some children of narcissistic parents become inverted narcissists, craving relationships with narcissists, while others become counterdependent or even narcissists themselves. Narcissistic mothers micromanage their child's life and encourage dependent and infantile behaviors, emotionally blackmailing them and threatening to disinherit them if they do not comply with their wishes.

Idealized, Devalued, Dumped

Narcissists have a cycle of overvaluation and devaluation, which is more prevalent in borderline personality disorder than in narcissistic personality disorder. The cycle reflects the need to be protected against the whims, needs, and choices of other people, shielded from the hurt that they can inflict on the narcissist. The overvaluation and devaluation mechanism is the most efficient one available to the narcissist, as the narcissist's personality is precariously balanced and requires inordinate amounts of energy to maintain. The narcissist's energies are all focused and dedicated to the task concentrated upon the source of supply he had identified.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy