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Overt Narcissist - Everything You Need To Know About THem

Types of Narcissism | By: Katie Lister

April 11, 2024

What are the signs of overt narcissism? How do I deal with an overt narcissist?  What causes overt narcissism? If you have these questions and more, you have come to the right place!

Hi, my name is Katie Lister. I am a Registered Nurse and the founder of Growth Gals. Here at Growth Gals, we provide resources to help you live intentionally, improve your mental wellbeing, navigate relationships, and create healthy habits. We are here to support you if you are dealing with a narcissist in your life, as it can be extremely challenging and painful. 

In this article, you will learn more about narcissism, including how to cope if someone in your life is displaying overt narcissism traits.

Table of Contents

Katie Lister

Katie Lister

Written by Katie Lister, RN, BScN. An experienced Registered Nurse, Group Facilitator, Life Coach, and Community Leader. Read Katie's Full Author Bio

Overt Narcissists and Narcissism

NPD is a mental health condition divided into several subtypes, the most common being overt and covert (vulnerable) narcissism subtypes. Overt narcissists are individuals who show all the common signs of narcissism openly, including being outwardly arrogant, selfish, boastful, and entitled.

Overt narcissists display grandiosity and self-absorption, and they also lack empathy. Such individuals exaggerate their accomplishments, expect preferential treatment, and take advantage of others for personal gain. Although they may appear confident and happy, low self-esteem, low self-worth, and anxiety lurk beneath the façade displayed by an overt narcissist.

Signs Of Overt Narcissism

As mentioned earlier, an overt narcissist, also known as a grandiose or classic narcissist, is an individual who openly exhibits signs of NPD. The difference between overt and covert narcissists is that the former is not afraid of appearing aggressive to get their narcissistic supply while the latter prefers to use humility to get their narcissistic supply.

Overt narcissists want to be noticed by everyone and use charm to control others. Some of the most significant signs of an overt narcissist in the narcissist checklist include:

Lack of empathy

Empathy means considering the needs of others, their opinions, feelings and wants. Empathy is one of the main components of emotional intelligence, and an overt narcissist cannot feel compassion or care about other people. They lack self-awareness and are so self-involved that they believe only their needs matter. 

Grandiose sense of importance 

An overt narcissist is a charmer, and they live up to this reputation. They have a commanding presence and lots of self-confidence. This narcissist is obsessed with self-image and engages in attention-seeking behaviors. An overt narcissist does not recognize anyone else while blinded by their inflated sense of self-importance. They expect everyone to admire them and envy their intellect and opinions.  

Need for admiration

Grandiose narcissists have an insatiable need for external validation and admiration. Overt narcissists often display acts of humanity or fake nobility. They build a persona of selflessness and publicize their generous donations or actions. The narcissist loves receiving public recognition and accolades, which feeds their narcissistic supply and gives them a sense of validation.

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Sense of entitlement

Overt narcissists have an exaggerated sense of entitlement and believe they deserve preferential treatment. The narcissist expects other people to cater to their every need without question and often disregards other people’s boundaries and feelings. The narcissist’s self-entitlement stems from their sense of superiority, and thus, the illusion of deserving special treatment. 


Overt narcissists use manipulation tactics to control others. They may use flattery, deceit, love bombing, blame shifting, or charm to manipulate people’s emotions with no regard for the impact or consequences of their actions. 

Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse and a manipulative tactic. The narcissist twists facts and denies doing or saying things, even when evidence proves them otherwise. They do this purposely to make you look crazy and doubt your perception of reality.

Exploitative nature

Overt narcissists openly exploit people for gratification or gain. They use people as tools to fulfill their needs, often leading to one-sided and toxic personal relationships.

Disregard for boundaries

Overt narcissists disregard other people’s boundaries to get what they want. They will ignore asking for consent and invade your personal space, which shows a lack of respect for boundaries. Ironically, the narcissist gets offended when others disrespect their boundaries.

Hypersensitivity to criticism

An overt narcissist has deep-seated hypersensitivity to criticism. They react with defensiveness or fly into a narcissistic rage when someone calls their actions into question, and they view it as an attack.

Grandiose fantasies

An overt narcissist has delusions of grandeur. They have fantasies of superiority, power, and success. They idolize their talents and achievements, making it seem as if they are more powerful or successful than they are, to boost their fragile egos.

What Causes Overt Narcissism

Like all other forms of narcissism, and most mental health issues, there is no one cause of overt narcissism. Overt narcissism can develop due to a combination of elements such as:


Research suggests that children are more likely to pick up narcissistic tendencies through behavior mirroring if a parent, or both, live with NPD. However, a 2014 study found evidence of genetic influence in at least two NPD traits, entitlement and feelings of grandiosity. However, studies of whether NPD is genetic largely remain inconclusive.


Experts have linked parenting practices to the development of narcissistic personality disorder in adults. While some parenting styles are well-intentioned, they may inadvertently lead to higher levels of narcissism. Examples of such practices include: 

  • Overprotective or helicopter parenting
  • Setting few or lax boundaries
  • Experiencing adverse childhood experiences such as physical or emotional abuse, maltreatment, rejection, or lack of support from parents or primary caregivers.
  • Over-praising a child promotes unrealistic expectations of themselves or perfectionism. Additionally, children may learn narcissistic behavior from watching their parents exhibit such behavior.


Childhood trauma, like bullying and maltreatment, can increase the risk of developing NPD in early adulthood. Overprotection can also lead to grandiose and covert narcissism, while excessive praise may lead to grandiosity. Inadequate boundaries with a child may result in covert or vulnerable narcissism.

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Biological factors may contribute to NPD development. People with NPD have higher oxidative stress levels and reduced gray matter in brain areas linked to empathy. Physical attributes like athleticism, attractiveness, and strength are also associated with higher narcissism levels.


Research indicates culture can influence a child’s risk of later developing NPD. The risk seems higher in individualistic cultures. People who grow up in cultures that encourage community cohesiveness are less likely to develop NPD.

Common Examples Of Overt Narcissistic Behavior

Here are some typical everyday examples of overt narcissistic behaviors:

  • A narcissistic supervisor belittles employees, takes credit for their projects, and boasts about their accomplishments.
  • A friend who insists on being in charge of everything and everyone, often making decisions without consulting anyone else.
  • A spouse who is constantly demeaning and belittling their partner, mainly if their partner has achieved more than the narcissist.
  • A parent who takes excessive pride in their children’s achievements. They brag to anyone who cares to listen about their children’s achievements.
  • A person who incessantly talks about their accomplishments and always seeks admiration and praise from others.
  • A partner who always wants to hog the conversation and wants to be the center of attention.

Dealing With an Overt Narcissist

To protect your mental health, here are some ways you can deal with an overt narcissist.

Know thy ‘opponent’

Individuals with narcissistic personality traits can be charming and likable, which makes it essential to arm yourself with an awareness of the signs of NPD and the types of narcissists. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses can help you navigate challenges and set realistic expectations for your relationship.

Make use of your support network

Surround yourself with trustworthy people who appreciate and value you. Listen to their views about your character, free from the narcissist’s bias. Your family members will give you a true insight into your true worth.

Learn to recognize silent treatment

Narcissists may use silent treatment to manipulate you when they feel offended. Although their behavior is not your fault, it’s essential to recognize this passive-aggressive tactic and distance yourself by walking away from the situation.

Set boundaries

Establishing boundaries with a narcissist entails establishing your independence from them. Ensure you let them know the limits, including what you will or will not tolerate and the consequences. If they cross those limits, take action as promised.

Seek professional help

Dealing with an overt narcissist is draining. Seek professional help from a mental health professional who has ample training on narcissistic personality disorder and can guide you on how to deal with the narcissist and maintain your sanity.

Overt Narcissist: How Growth Gals Can Help

Our aim at Growth Gals is to inspire women to reach their full potential. We also strive to create positive change by giving women the resources to discover their true selves and expand their knowledge base on various issues, such as mental health and emotional intelligence.

Growth Gals helps women overcome obstacles and make informed decisions. We also help them connect with other women with similar values and experiences. Subscribe to the Growth Gals newsletter to access resources and helpful guides for women. Learn more about how we can support you and help you if you have an overt narcissist in your life.


Overt Narcissist: Conclusion

An overt narcissist is someone with grandiose behavior, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy among other traits Overt narcissism causes are complex and may include genetics, parenting, environment, and biological factors. Understanding the condition makes it easier for you to protect yourself.

While dealing with an overt narcissist is difficult, remember that you’re not responsible for their behavior. Protect yourself by knowing your ‘opponent,’ setting boundaries, and seeking professional help for your well-being.

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