Overt narcissists openly crave attention and validation while devaluing others. But on the other end of the spectrum, covert narcissism conceals entitled motives behind a facade of empathy and humility. This invisible toxicity often inflicts even more insidious harm. More and more we are seeing this hidden "act" playing out in our relationships and more so on the world stage.
Covert narcissists are highly skilled emotional manipulators. They present as caring allies, when in truth others exist only as pawns for their egos. They elicit trust to exploit rather than sincerely collaborate. Secret arrogance belies surface empathy. This hall of mirrors can often confuse or distort reality for those who genuinely care.
In relationships, covert narcissists practice love bombing, gaslighting, triangulation, and other means of controlling partners through distorted intimacy. At work, they steal credit, sabotage perceived competitors and ingratiate higher-ups to gain influence.
Unlike loudmouth overt narcissists, their stealth power grabs proceed undetected. They cultivate images of selfless contribution, leaving victims of exploitation confused and blaming themselves when dynamics decay. Make no mistake, underneath this mask lies individuals most likely using these tactics as a means of maladaptation. But this doesn't offer clemency when the power dynamic is severely hurting and creating genuine victims. There is an inversion happening where our roles are reversed. Power will not willfully change, therefore our only hope is for those truly victimized to stand up in the face of justice and speak the truth.
Cultivating discernment is critical, but difficult when cunningness masks motives. Look for patterns of others existing to serve their hidden agendas. Notice inconsistencies between words and actions. Trust your gut sense around inauthenticity even if they adamantly deny. The true victim must reclaim balance in the face of the perceived "good" guys.
Ultimately the false selves of the covert cannot endure close inspection. Naming uncomfortable truths compassionately yet firmly helps prevent further passive enabling. Integrity picks ethics over popularity in standing up to manipulation. But this requires one not to comply and to strengthen their will in order to face what may be to come. We are at a critical juncture where this is no longer a luxury but necessary as our culture and society are flipping into a controlled collective.
Of course, darkness permeates at levels far beyond individual consciousness. As Michael Harner said, “Power struggles are essentially struggles between the overt and covert forces of the psyche.” Self-knowledge and integration our own shadow is needed to transform both inner and outer worlds with wisdom. The time is now.