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Two Ways To Injure A Narcissist Narcissistic (overt) Vs. Self Efficacy (covert) Injury

Uploaded 5/30/2023, approx. 18 minute read

9 ways to humiliate a narcissist beyond reconstruction.

471 ways to mortify a narcissist even when he is asleep.

And of course, the clickbait of all time, 1001 ways to make a narcissist cry his eyes out.

So I want to join the party. I'm gonna make a clickbait video.

Two ways to injure a narcissist.

But I'm gonna do it my way because it's always my way or the highway.

When I die, I want to sing in unison with a great Sinatra in heaven. I did it my way.

And my way is a bit academic, founded on literature and less of a clickbait than most of these videos.

And for those of you who are wondering, who is this guy in a black t-shirt? This guy is Sam Vaknin.

My name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited and a former visiting professor of psychology.


Today we're going to discuss the two types of injuries that narcissists sustain.

One of them is well known, documented in the literature.

And one of them is my own personal addition to the lexicon of narcissism and narcissistic abuse.

It won't be the first addition.

Okay, Shoshanim.

Now, the covert narcissist self-supply.

Remember, the covert or fragile or shy or vulnerable narcissist is a narcissist who is incapable of obtaining narcissistic supply on his or her own.

Incapable for a variety of reasons.

Constitutionally, temperamentally, personality wise, circumstantially, you name it for whatever reason, this kind of narcissist cannot secure an uninterrupted flow of supply.

He is not self efficacious.

The solution in the case of the covert narcissist is rampant self-supply.

The covert narcissist is often avoidant. He is introverted. He lurks in the shadows. He is behind the scenes. He is the Eminence Gris. He is the, he could be a puppet master, but he is always occult and hidden.

And so he self-supplies.

Covert narcissist is his own audience.

With one exception, the inverted narcissist teams up with an overt grandiose narcissist and kind of sucks or feeds off his supply.

So she is like a parasite or he's like a parasite.

But the vast majority of covert narcissists self-supply and they are their own audience.

Now the overt narcissist, the grandiose, the classical narcissist depends on external sources of supply. It's very rare for a grandiose narcissist to self-supply.

Supply doesn't feel good to him.

So he usually approaches external sources while the covert narcissist is avoidant.

The overt grandiose narcissist is the exact opposite. He approaches.

So approach, avoidance, repetition, compulsion is divided in this case.

Now he approaches these potential sources of supply and then he converts them into sources of supply.

For example, by introducing them into a shared fantasy.

So these are two totally different strategies of self-regulation.

The covert narcissist self-regulates internally and in this sense, in some ways, the covert narcissist is more healthy than the overt grandiose narcissist.

While the grandiose overt narcissist is dependent on external sources.

And so the grandiose overt narcissist has external regulation while the covert narcissist maintains internal regulation.

Question of audience.

The overt is his own audience while the overt or the grandiose, they require an external audience.

When the covert narcissist fails to deceive himself, owing to public shaming, he endures narcissistic injury.

I repeat this.

These are rules of the game. You may even simply write them down.

When the covert narcissist is unable to deceive himself, can't deceive himself any longer, fails to deceive himself, owing to public shaming and humiliation, public exposure, public derision, in that case, he endures narcissistic injury.

When the grandiose overt narcissist, the classical narcissist, is unable to deceive himself any longer owing to public exposure, shaming, derision, humiliation, he endures mortification.

So the same event which involves public exposure, public humiliation, public derision, the same event, the covert narcissist reacts with narcissistic injury, which is a relatively mild event, psychodynamically speaking, while the overt narcissist, the grandiose narcissist reacts with mortification, which is a massive, massive disintegration of defenses, decompensation, including the deactivation of the false self.


I've several videos dedicated to mortification.

So the difference again indicates that covert narcissism is a more benign form of narcissism, more healthy form, because the covert is much less reactive to external triggers such as public humiliation than the overt.

Next, when the covert fails to deceive other people, so you remember previously I was talking about the capacity to deceive oneself.

When the covert fails to deceive himself, he endures narcissistic injury.

And when the grandiose narcissist fails to deceive himself, he endures mortification.

Now, when the covert fails to deceive other people, he endures something which is actually not narcissistic injury.

And this is why I came up with a new term, a new phrase.

I call it self-efficacy injury.

So when the covert fails to deceive other people, he endures self-efficacy injury.

It's a sense of inability to extract favorable outcomes from the human environment. It's a sense of failure and defeat and being a loser.

It is not narcissistic injury because in the covert narcissist case, this is anyhow how he sees himself.

So the perception of I'm a loser, I'm defeated, I'm a failure is an injury, it's an injury to his self-efficacy, but it's not a narcissistic injury because it's ego congruent.

In other words, this is how the covert sees himself in any case.

I'm a loser, duh.

What's new?

I knew it all along.

I'm a failure, I failed, well, that's failure number 10,000.

I keep failing all the time.

I'm a loser.

That's the self-image of the covert narcissist.

The covert narcissist perceives himself as superior to other people, but at the same time he perceives himself as a failure socially speaking.

So the covert narcissist has a dual self-image.

One part is aggrandizing and idealizing, idealized and one part is devalued.

The covert says internally, internally I'm amazing, I'm fascinating, I'm unique, I'm super intelligent, I'm a beautiful person, internally, I'm a treasure.

Externally though, I'm a failure, I keep being defeated. I don't know how to do things, I don't know how to get along with others.

So the covert borderline, a narcissist is very reminiscent of the borderline.

The borderline has the same imagery, the same imagery, I'm good inside, I'm bad outside. That's the covert narcissist's view.

And so when the covert narcissist fails to deceive other people, fails to convince them, for example, how special he is or how superior he is, he takes it in stride.

He fully expects and anticipates and predicts failure and defeat. It sits well with the devaluative part of his self-image.

So the devaluative part, the part of the self-image of the covert narcissist, which is negative, opposite of inflated, deflated, that part serves as a protection, it's protective.

Because no matter what happens to the covert narcissist, he already knew it's going to happen. He anticipated it.

There's no surprise there, there's no shock. The covert narcissist never experiences external shocks.

So he is always on the ready.

And when he fails to convince other people of his grandeur, of his superiority and supremacy and amazingness, when he fails to deceive others, it's just narcissistic injury. It's nothing serious. It's just a self-efficacy injury.

I'm sorry, not narcissistic injury, self-efficacy injury. It's just another proof of how incapable and how inadequate and how deficient he is.

When the overt, the grandiose narcissist endures the same, when he, for example, fails to deceive other people, fails to convince them other people of his superiority and supremacy, and when the overt and grandiose narcissist fails to convert other people to become sources of supply, fails to pull the wool over people's eyes if he's a con artist, fails to integrate himself in structures that he perceives would elevate him somehow.

When in short, when the overt or the grandiose narcissist experiences failure, he at the same time experiences narcissistic injury.

Okay. Let me summarize these four states, four conditions.

Covert narcissist.

When the covert narcissist fails to deceive himself owing to public shaming and humiliation, the covert narcissist experiences narcissistic injury.

When the grandiose narcissist fails to deceive himself owing to public shaming and humiliation, he experiences mortification.

When the covert narcissist fails to deceive or convince others of his grandiose inflated self-image, he experiences self-efficacy injury, a mild injury, because he had already anticipated the failure.

When the grandiose narcissist fails to impress or motivate or deceive other people, the grandiose narcissist experiences narcissistic injury.

So the grandiose narcissist is always much worse off than the covert narcissist, because his defenses are much more brittle and rigid. He is much more hypervigilant and paranoid, and so he is likely to be hurt a lot more.

So, mortification in the covert does happen, but for mortification to happen in covert narcissism, there should be the simultaneous occurrence of both narcissistic injury and self-efficacy injury.

Only on these extremely rare cases when the covert narcissist experiences narcissistic injury and self-efficacy and injury, only then does he undergo or go through mortification.

Mortification in the case of the covert narcissist is an internal event, not an external one. It's not a public event, it's a private event, independent of any witnessing by other people.

In short, in covert narcissism, mortification is a form of self-shaming, self-denigrating, the bad object taking over.

In the case of the overt narcissist or the grandiose narcissist, mortification is always a public event.

Mortification critically depends on the presence of witnesses.

The humiliation has a social dimension.

In the case of the covert narcissist, the humiliation is internal. The chastising and castigating and criticism is self-directed. It is self-humiliation, self-shaming, self-demeaning, self-criticism. It's a kind of harsh inner critic, writ large.

This is another distinction between the covert and the overt.

Crisis and drama and even the anxiety attendant upon crises and dramas, these are defenses, actually.

In narcissism, crises and drama are tools, they're instruments. I could say the same about borderline personality disorder, but in borderline personality disorder, crises and drama are the outcomes of this regulation. They are preceding events, psychological events or psychodynamic events.

Crisis and drama in borderline personality disorder can be and often are manipulative. They're intended to secure outcomes and to modify other people's behaviors, but they always follow on the footsteps of a previous problematic or disordered mental state, such as emotional dysregulation, moodlability, catastrophizing, anticipation of rejection, humiliation and so on and so forth.

While in borderline, crises and drama are derivative secondary phenomena, simply the external behavior of manifestations and expressions of an internal turmoil that's in borderline.

In narcissism, crises and drama are tools, they are defenses. Narcissism is against what? Against a depressive state.

The narcissist in the throes of a narcissistic injury, a self-efficacy injury, a mortification, a narcissist is prone to depression and in some cases, if the trauma is extreme, prone to suicide.

There's a lot of suicidal ideation to defend against this, to isolate the narcissist from this extremely dangerous environment, internal environment.

The narcissist generates intentionally, deliberately, premeditatively, he generates crisis and drama.

By the way, I can hear your voices in my head. You have been interjected. He and she are interchangeable. The gender pronouns are interchangeable.

Okay? Everything I say applies to women as well.


Women narcissists, female narcissists or female borderlines drama are a bit predictable. You can foresee them and prepare yourself with the narcissist, crisis and drama are instrumentalized and weaponized.

For example, narcissists abuse people and they know it's going to end badly one way or another. They know they're going to be abandoned. They know they're going to be attacked. They know they're going to pay price for their misbehavior.

So why do they keep doing this?

Because they need to generate the drama and the crisis and the anxiety even, which are the inevitable, ineluctable outcomes of such misbehavior.

Narcissistic abuse is a drama and crisis generating instrument. It is intended first and foremost to reduce the narcissist's propensity for depression and in a secondary manner to ultimately mitigate anxiety.

It's why the narcissist, for example, uses narcissistic abuse to test the loyalty and allegiance of his partner. That's why he uses narcissistic abuse to devalue the partner and discard her.

Narcissistic abuse is an instrument, a tool. The narcissist provokes an engineer's crisis intentionally and artificially to mask life threatening emptiness, dysphoria, anhedonia. So it's a form of distraction on the one hand, a diversion, but much more importantly, it allows the narcissist to feel alive. It keeps him on his toes, endows his life with meaning and direction and purpose. It's an organizing and interpretative principle, much more than in borderline.

The crisis and drama in borderline are chaotic. They are total mess. There's no rhyme or reason in the borderline's crisis and drama. It's very often reasonable, funny, comic.

The borderline's crisis and drama are aggressive, even violent at times, but it's very clear that they are dysregulate.

The crisis and drama in the borderline is like improvisation in theater or in jazz, in music. It's not the real thing. It's not the melody. It's some kind of improvisation on the harmony.

But with a narcissist, the drama and the crisis are hardcore. They have an edge. They are sinister. They're terrifying. The crisis and the drama in the case of a narcissist is an external shell, an exoskeleton. It encompasses and encapsulates the total space of the shared fantasy.

Shared fantasy's outer walls, perimeter, is made of dramas and crises, all of them provoked by the narcissist.

Of course, this dysregulates the partner and partners react with their own drama and crisis, which is precisely what the narcissist wants.

If you are busy engineering, spawning off and spewing drama and crisis, you don't have time to be depressed. You don't even have time later on to be anxious.

These are anxiolytic and antidepressant steps.

Abuse itself is anxiogenic.

When you abuse someone, you expect retaliation and this enhances your anxiety.

Abuse initially is anxiogenic, but it is also an antidepressant.

When you abuse, you regain control, a sense of power, and you're too busy to be depressed.

It's a survival mode. It's like adrenaline. And then later on, the abuse even becomes anxiolytic. The whole situation becomes anxiolytic even.

Because as you are in the throes of fighting for your life, there's no room for anxiety and depression.

All this, what I've just said about crisis and drama, this is mostly common or more common when the narcissist is deflated.

When the narcissist is denied narcissistic supply, is mortified, is narcissistically injured, he reacts, narcissist reacts with self-aggrandizement, self-aggrandizing paranoia and the center of a malign conspiracy or a mythologizing fantasy.

I'm invincible. I'm omnipotent. I'm untouchable.

These are the two modes of reacting to crisis and drama.

And in this sense, crisis and drama are the precursors.

They enable grandiosity.

For the narcissist to continue to maintain the fiction that he is godlike, he needs to create crisis and drama.

When he introduces crisis and drama into his life, he then naturally reacts with grandiosity, enhanced grandiosity.

As I said, he becomes paranoid.

Paranoia is a form of grandiosity and the center of the world.

Or he develops an even more inflated fantasy of himself.

I'm untouchable. I'm godlike.

So the sequence in the case of a narcissist is routine, a pedestrian, hamdrum life, the drab existence of the average Joe.

This pushes the narcissist into life-threatening depression.

To avoid this imminent dysregulation, a narcissist converts, transforms his life into a telenovela, a soap opera replete with dramas and crises and so on.

And then he can lie to himself or deceive himself convincingly that he is at the center of momentous events unfolding and unfurling around him, his paranoia, or that whatever is transpiring will prove or will prove his grandiosity right.

He will emerge from the crisis or from the drama strengthened, galvanized, fortified, improved, stronger, or in one word, more divine than he even is.

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