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Compensatory Narcissism (citation)
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Compensatory Narcissism (citation)

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Posted by Jan ( on September 11, 2003 at 13:06:19:

In Reply to: The Inverted Narcissist posted by Jan den Breejen ( on September 11, 2003 at 12:49:31:

The Compensatory versus the Classic Narcissist

Another interesting distinction, suggested by Dave Kelly in his excellent PTYPES Web site (http://www.ptypes.com) is between the Compensatory Type NPD and the Classic NPD (DSM-IV-TR type).

Here are the Compensatory NPD criteria according to Dave Kelly:

"Personality Types proposes Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a pervasive pattern of unstable, covert narcissistic behaviours that derive from an underlying sense of insecurity and weakness rather than from genuine feelings of self-confidence and high self-esteem, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by six (or more) of the criteria below.

The basic trait of the Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Type is a pattern of overtly narcissistic behaviours (that) derive from an underlying sense of insecurity and weakness, rather than from genuine feelings of self-confidence and high self-esteem."

The Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Type:

Seeks to create an illusion of superiority and to build up an image of high self-worth [Millon];

Strives for recognition and prestige to compensate for the lack of a feeling of self-worth;

May "acquire a deprecatory attitude in which the achievements of others are ridiculed and degraded" [Millon];

Has persistent aspirations for glory and status [Millon];

Has a tendency to exaggerate and boast [Millon];

Is sensitive to how others react to him, watches and listens carefully for critical judgement, and feels slighted by disapproval [Millon];

"Is prone to feel shamed and humiliated and especially (anxious) and vulnerable to the judgements of others" [Millon];

Covers up a sense of inadequacy and deficiency with pseudo-arrogance and pseudo-grandiosity [Millon];

Has a tendency to periodic hypochondria [Forman];

Alternates between feelings of emptiness and deadness and states of excitement and excess energy [Forman];

Entertains fantasies of greatness, constantly striving for perfection, genius, or stardom [Forman];

Has a history of searching for an idealised partner and has an intense need for affirmation and confirmation in relationships [Forman];

Frequently entertains a wishful, exaggerated and unrealistic concept of himself, which he can't possibly measure up to [Reich];

Produces (too quickly) work not up to the level of his abilities because of an overwhelmingly strong need for the immediate gratification of success [Reich];

Is touchy, quick to take offence at the slightest provocation, continually anticipating attack and danger, reacting with anger and fantasies of revenge when he feels himself frustrated in his need for constant admiration [Reich];

Is self-conscious, due to a dependence on approval from others [Reich];

Suffers regularly from repetitive oscillations of self-esteem [Reich];

Seeks to undo feelings of inadequacy by forcing everyone's attention and admiration upon himself [Reich];

May react with self-contempt and depression to the lack of fulfilment of his grandiose expectations [Riso].


Forman, Max. Narcissistic Disorders and the Oedipal Fixations. In Feldstein, J.J. (Ed.), The Annual of Psychoanalysis. Volume IV. New York: International Universities [1976] pp. 65-92.

Millon, Theodore, and Roger D. Davis. Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond. 2nd Ed. New York: Wiley, [1996] pp. 411-12.

Reich, Annie, [1986]. Pathological Forms of Self-Esteem Regulation. In Morrison, A. P., (Ed.), Essential Papers on Narcissism. pp. 44-60. Reprint from 1960. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Volume 15, pp. 205-32.

Riso, Don Richard. Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery. Boston: Houghton Mifflin [1987] pp. 102-3.

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