A vulnerable narcissist is a type of narcissist that tends to be highly self-conscious, insecure, and hypersensitive to rejection. They oscillate between feeling inferior and superior to others, and they become easily offended, anxious, or even hostile when they’re not put on a pedestal. 

“People with vulnerable narcissism often have a deep need for approval and validation from others and experience feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression,” explains Harold Hong M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist at New Waters Recovery in North Carolina. 

Vulnerable narcissism is also known as closet or covert narcissism because their narcissistic tendencies are not always as obvious or overt. As Hong points out, vulnerable narcissists often deal with high levels of negative emotion, and clinical psychologist and Harvard lecturer Craig Malkin, Ph.D., notes that their perceived level of suffering can even be the very thing they narcissistically exaggerate.

“Covert narcissists feel special because they believe their pain is more important than others’,” Malkin previously told mbg. “They may feel like the most misunderstood genius, the person who’s suffering the most, or even the ugliest person in the room.” 



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