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Recognising Overt Narcissistic Traits

Updated: May 9

Overt narcissistic traits are often manifest through behaviour such as grandiosity, entitlement, and a noticeable lack of empathy. The traits include self-centred behaviours, including excessive bragging, putting others down, and flaunting power and connections. Understanding the characteristics of overt narcissists requires delving into the roots of their behaviours, which often stem from a complex interplay of childhood experiences, a lack of healthy self-esteem development, and a deep-seated need for external validation.

 

Childhood plays a pivotal role in the development of narcissistic personality traits. Individuals deprived of emotional attunement and validation in their formative years are vulnerable to narcissistic traits, though not all individuals who grow up with emotional deprivation develop narcissistic characteristics. Emotional deprivation leads to the need for constant validation to make up for the deprivation in the early years. While it is a human need to be validated, individuals with overt narcissistic traits often resort to boasting, lying and putting others down to boost their self-esteem. The reason is that individuals with overt narcissistic traits live with an intense fear of being discovered for their perceived flaws. They are so focused on maintaining their self-image that they have difficulty empathizing with others' emotions.

 

Individuals with overt narcissist traits exhibit a range of behaviours, which include persistent bullying, a relentless need to win, lying to cover themselves, and aggressive or passive responses to criticism. The aim is to have a sense of self-worth and hide their fragile self of self. Individuals with overt narcissistic traits sometimes respond with "narcissistic rage" when they feel vulnerable. Narcissistic rage can be explosive or passive-aggressive.

 

As overt narcissist traits develop from emotional deprivation and early trauma, It is helpful to seek professional help to process the root issue. Therapy can significantly aid individuals with overt narcissistic traits. Psychotherapy focuses on processing past traumas, which opens the pathway to healthier self-esteem, leading to the capacity to build healthy relationships. The therapy goal is to help individuals develop a healthier self-image that doesn't solely depend on external validation, fostering personal growth and improved interpersonal dynamics.

 

Relationships with a partner with an overt narcissistic trait can be confusing and even intimidating at times. If you feel that you are always on the edge, blamed and gaslighted by your partner, it will be helpful to seek therapy to process your emotions. It may also be necessary to seek relationship therapy if both partners are committed to working on the relationship.

 

Restoring Peace is a private mental health centre that provides counselling and psychotherapy services for individuals and couples with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, and various mental health challenges. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848. For periodic updates, we invite you to join our Telegram group, https://t.me/restoringpeace.

 

Keywords: centred, external validation, psychotherapy

 

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