What is Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

In this blog, we will explore Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder in detail, and also cover topics like narcissistic personality disorder, types, symptoms, treatment, and answer the frequently answered questions. 

What is Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Compensatory narcissism is a type of mental disorder characterized by narcissistic qualities that cover underlying emotions of inadequacy, such as scorn for others and an unjustified sense of superiority. 

Before we go on to talk in detail about compensatory narcissistic personality disorder, we need to first have a better understanding of the narcissistic personality disorder. 

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

When we think of a narcissistic person, we generally think of someone who is extremely self-obsessed. Someone who indulges in behaviors like excessively clicking photos of themselves, always complimenting themselves, or spending hours staring at themselves in the front of the mirror. 

However, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a serious psychological condition that entails self-centered thought processes that aren’t quite like ours. Instead, those with NPD are characterized by a lack of empathy and respect for others, as well as a strong desire for validation, adoration, or acknowledgment.

These demands may appear arrogant, manipulative, egotistical, patronizing, or unreasonable. This can show itself in professional, personal, and romantic relationships, causing far more significant and varied issues than someone who loves to click 20 pictures of themselves a day. 

Types of narcissists

Theodore Millon, a psychologist, recognized and described five different forms of narcissistic behavior in 1996. Any person suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder may exhibit zero, one, or more of the following behaviors:

  • Unprincipled narcissist

Someone who has antisocial inclinations and acts dishonestly, typically exploiting or manipulating others in order to elevate their own status.

  • Amorous narcissist: 

This type of narcissist engages in attention-seeking practices that are frequently emotional or relational in character. The drive to gain affection for the sake of gaining affection, rather than to satisfy a more particular human need or connection, characterizes amorous narcissism.

  • Compensatory narcissist: 

A narcissist who exhibits passive-aggressive and avoidant behaviours, which are ultimately motivated by a desire to improve one’s social status in relation to others or to oneself.

  • Elitist narcissist: 

This is the most literal description of a narcissist, in which the affected individual believes they are superior to all others and acts in ways that indicate they are convinced of their own higher social status, even if it is a complete delusion.

These narcissistic variants are still being defined, and they aren’t always employed in the medical world, but they can assist the observer sort through conduct that doesn’t strictly line with classic criteria of narcissism but still follows a narcissistic pattern.

Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In general, narcissists believe they are superior to others and show contempt for them while attempting to elevate themselves in order to display their superiority. 

“Classical” narcissists may not act in this way because of underlying insecurity or a sense of inferiority, but compensatory narcissists do so to compensate for such emotions. 

In many situations, compensatory narcissists eagerly desire the admiration and acceptance of their peers, despite engaging in actions that alienate others and can get quite distressed if they do not receive it.

Beyond emotions of superiority and contempt for others, people with compensatory narcissism exhibit a variety of characteristics. Many of these people also have a poor ability for empathy and are unconcerned about or uninterested in the consequences of their behavior on others. 

Anyone suffering from this illness is likely to be hyper-focused on his own social standing, and any criticism or insult is often met with rage or unreasonable depression.

Based on the acceptance of others and other personal conditions, compensatory narcissists frequently cycle from depression or emptiness to great joy and vigor. This sort of narcissist frequently seeks acceptance from others by inflating his successes, boasting, and even lying about them, as well as downplaying the accomplishments and value of others.

Another prevalent symptom of this disorder is underachievement. The compensating narcissist frequently seeks quick reward and praise and, as a result, is unwilling to devote a significant amount of time to any project. As a result, he is likely to perform poorly in his employment, academics, or other interests.

Symptoms of Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A few common signs and symptoms of compensatory narcissistic personality disorder in a person are listed below:

  • tries to create the illusion of superiority and a strong sense of self-worth 
  • an impaired ability to empathize 
  • seeks fame and prominence in order to compensate for a lack of self-worth;
  • may develop a dismissive attitude in which others’ accomplishments are mocked and humiliated.
  • is driven by a desire for glory and status
  • is prone to exaggeration and boasting 
  • is aware of how others perceive him or her, keeps a close eye on and listens for critical judgment, and considers rejection to be a betrayal 
  • feelings of shame and humiliation, as well as being hyper-anxious and subject to others’ judgments 
  • uses pseudo-arrogance and pseudo-grandiosity to mask feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency.
  • has a tendency to periodic hypochondria 
  • changes between moods of emptiness and death, as well as states of enthusiasm and excess energy
  • enjoys illusions of greatness, striving for perfection, genius, or popularity at all times
  • history of seeking an idealised mate and a strong desire for reinforcement and confirmation in relationships.
  • a romanticised, inflated, and unrealistic image of himself or herself that he or she can’t reasonably live up to
  • due to an overpowering need for rapid gratification of accomplishment, produces work too quickly but is not up to par with his or her ability.
  • sensitive, takes offence at the smallest provocation, constantly anticipating attack and danger, and reacting with rage and revenge fantasies when he or she feels threatened
  • may experience self-disgust and sadness as a result of his or her extravagant expectations not being met.

Dimensional perspective on compensatory narcissistic personality disorder

If we look at an individual with compensatory narcissistic personality disorder through the five-factor model, then his/her characteristics will include: 

  • High Neuroticism

Chronic negative emotions, such as anxiety, fear, tension, irritability, anger, dejection, hopelessness, guilt, and shame; difficulty resisting impulses, such as to eat, drink, or spend money. 

High Extraversion: Excessive talking, which leads to inappropriate self-disclosure and social friction; difficulty to spend time alone; the need for attention and too theatrical display of emotions; reckless excitement seeking; inappropriate attempts to dominate and control others.

  • High Openness

a habit of living in fantasies and daydreaming; lack of practicality; eccentric thinking (e.g., belief in ghosts, reincarnation, UFOs); diffuse identity and shifting goals: for example, joining religious groups, experiencing nightmares etc. 

  • Low Agreeableness

problems in trusting friends and family, manipulative, does not obey social norms, involved in fights and quarrels, arrogant, inflated sense of self

  • Underachievement

failure to reach intellectual or artistic potential; poor academic performance relative to ability; disobedience of rules and responsibilities can lead to legal issues; inability to self-discipline (e.g., sticking to a diet or exercise plan) even when medically necessary; personal and occupational aimlessness.

Treatment for Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder can be difficult since people with this disease have a lot of grandiosity and defensiveness, making it difficult for them to admit issues and vulnerabilities. Individual and group psychotherapy may be beneficial in assisting people with narcissistic personality disorder in developing healthier and more compassionate relationships with others. Treatments for narcissistic personality disorder have included mentalization-based therapy, transference-focused psychotherapy, and schema-focused psychotherapy.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

One of the most difficult aspects of successfully interacting with narcissistic personalities is that persons with NPD despise hearing anything bad about themselves, particularly that they are narcissistic or that others view them as such.

Because narcissism is a complicated condition characterised by low self-esteem and a disconnection from reality, it differs from many psychological disorders in that persons who are affected eventually want or appreciate treatment, even if the initial “intervention” is met with defiance or reluctance.

Hearing that they are anything less than flawless is a devastating blow for narcissists, and the suggestion that they may have a significant personality disorder is likely to be received with more denial, illusions, or even wrath.

Rather than attempting to persuade narcissists that they may be suffering from a specific condition, concerned parties may use techniques that mimic normal narcissistic actions.

Consider recommending tiny changes that could increase their success or standing, or perhaps attempting to connect them with other respected members of the community who could provide them with the social currency they desire while simultaneously pointing them to therapy or counselling.


It’s crucial to remember that the fundamental root of compensatory narcissism’s behaviours and attributes is a sense of inferiority. All of the acts that appear to emphasise the narcissist’s own superiority while downplaying the value of others are fabricated to mask deep-seated fears. These fears and feelings of inadequacy are frequently based on one’s childhood upbringing. The development of compensatory narcissism might be aided by abusive parents or parents who have unrealistic expectations for their children. Many times, a person suffering from this illness is unaware of their underlying inferiority, and their narcissistic conduct serves as a defence mechanism against feeling inadequate.

Frequently Asked Questions: What is Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

What is the difference between narcissism and compensatory narcissism?

The key difference is that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) have high self-esteem and fearlessness on the surface while feeling deficient beneath the surface, whereas a Compensatory Narcissist intentionally feels insufficient or needs certainty and acts Narcissistic to compensate for it.

Because his Narcissism is being directed by an ineffective subconscious “director,” the NPD consciously believes in his own rightness, sense of entitlement, and so on. The Compensatory Narcissist, on the other hand, is intensely aware of their own anxieties and tries to compensate for them on purpose.

What are the four types of Narcissism?

There are four different types of narcissists:

-compensatory narcissists

-elitist narcissists

-amorous narcissists

-unprincipled narcissists

What are the symptoms characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder?

The symptoms that are characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder :

  • Exaggerated sense of importance of oneself
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Seeks excessive admiration
  • Seeks recognition as a superior from others
  • Exaggeration of small achievements and qualities

How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you?

Gaslighting or master manipulation are also used by narcissists to weaken and destabilise their victims; ultimately, they use happy and negative feelings or moments to deceive others. When a narcissist loses control of you, they’re likely to feel frightened, lash out in fury, and even threaten you.

How does a narcissist confuse you?

The lives of narcissists are all about winning, usually at the expense of others. Many narcissists seek a win-at-all-costs strategy in which anything goes. Honesty, empathy, and reciprocity are among the fatalities. Disinformation, oversimplification, mocking, and creating doubt are all tactics used by narcissists to misrepresent the truth.

When the narcissist knows you have figured him out?

When a narcissist is exposed or knows you’ve figured him out, they’ll never confess the truth, even if it’s right in front of their eyes. A narcissist will make multiple false claims in an attempt to justify himself. They’ll say stuff you didn’t say and misrepresent your entire message.



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