What Is Closet Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

What Is Closet Narcissistic Personality Disorder


Solution 2: Work Extra Hard.

Many people with CNPD work extra hard to please the people whom they admire. They live for the bit of attention and approval that they get from whomever they idealize.

Example: My client Sara idealized her boss. She would stay late at work to finish any project that he assigned her. Sometimes she came into the office on weekends because she wanted his approval so badly.

Related: Ways A Narcissist Manipulates You and How To Shut Them Down

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Solution 3: Be Manipulative.

Instead of asking directly for what they want, people with CNPD may try and manipulate the situation so that the other person feels obligated to them or sorry for them. Some of this is simply due to the closet narcissist’s shaky self-esteem. Many believe that if they just ask for what they want, no one will care. They have to prepay with favors and then the person will owe them.

Example: Jennifer did big favors for her friends that they did not ask for. Once she offered her new work friend Jane the use of her cabin in the mountains for a weekend. Jane accepted and was grateful. But not grateful enough.

When Jennifer was not chosen to be a bridesmaid at Jane’s wedding, she felt cheated. She complained, “Jane owes me big time! How could she leave me out of her bridal party after what I did for her?” In Jennifer’s mind, everything was transactional. She could not understand that Jane simply took her gift of the weekend as a lovely generous gesture—not an obligation.


Solution 4: Gossiping.

Most people with CNPD are not comfortable directly confronting people. Instead, they usually gossip to third parties about their grievances.

Example: Jennifer told everyone in her office about how badly Jane had treated her. When she had the opportunity, she made sure to “accidentally” let their boss know that Jane had been fired from her last job. This was something she had been told in confidence by Jane and had promised to keep a secret.

Related: 5 Signs You Are Not Depressed – But Surrounded By Toxic Assholes


Solution 5: The Cold Shoulder.

Unlike people with the exhibitionist subtype of NPD, people with CNPD are unlikely to pick a screaming fight with you in public when they are triggered. Instead, in addition to spreading malicious gossip about you behind your back, they may conspicuously ignore you. If you happen to meet in public, they may refuse to acknowledge you in any way. This extends to not responding to your texts, emails, or phone calls.

Related: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Energy Vampires

Example: Marco was furious with his friend Jim for not taking his side in a quarrel with someone they both know. The next time they met at a birthday celebration for a mutual friend, Carlos, Marco conspicuously ignored Jim. Carlos did not know about their fight, so he had seated them next to each other at the table. Marco refused to turn his head to speak to Jim and made his dislike obvious to everyone. When Jim asked him a question, Marco made a big show of pretending not to hear or see Jim. In true narcissistic fashion, Marco did not care that his behavior was ruining the party for Carlos and the other people there.



Closet narcissistic personality disorder can be very hard to recognize. Unless you are well trained in the narcissistic subtypes, you may not even know that this particular narcissistic subtype exists. Most people who spend a lot of time around someone with this disorder just see the person as a bit insecure or annoying. Even therapists may be unfamiliar with the CNPD diagnosis because it was not included in the DSM-5.

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