The immense need to always look so good and impeccable is crucial when we describe people who have a narcissistic personality disorder. Of course, everyone wants to look good, but looking as good and as assertive as possible is one of the main strategies of a narcissist.
When it comes to narcissism, psychologists distinguish two types of narcissists – vulnerable and grandiose. ‘Vulnerable’ narcissists seek approval and attention from others in order to boost their confidence and validate their ego. ‘Grandiose’ narcissists, on the other hand, have a strong and inflated sense of self and they are sure they can do anything wrong and therefore, they feel entitled to special treatment.
Both forms of narcissism have their roots in early childhood, especially when they were punished, abused, and treated malevolently by their parents. That’s why if you pull off their layer, you’ll find a fragile soul begging to be accepted.
According to some psychologists, grandiose narcissists would rather avoid than become super sensitive when something or someone threatens their ‘image’. Instead, they grab any chance they get to present themselves in an amazing light to outshine everyone else. They exert power over other individuals by doing something psychologists call “assertive self-presentation tactics” which include ingratiation, blasting, intimidation, and entitlement. When proved wrong, they’ll never apologize, but they will always justify their actions seeing them as strength.
Vulnerable narcissists, on the contrary, are highly neurotic, fast to anger, and are very prone to shame and clinging to others because they are afraid of rejection. Unlike the grandiose narcissists, the vulnerable narcissists become defensive when they feel threatened in some way. They will start justifying themselves and their actions, but they will do anything to avoid having to apologize. Instead, they’ll appear weak to gain the compassion and sympathy they want.
Now that we know the difference between grandiose and vulnerable narcissists, let’s look into what motivates their behavior.
There are two kinds of motivation – approach and avoidance. When someone uses the approach motivation, they are seeking for positive answers and pleasant goals, such as satisfying a need or desire. On the other hand, when someone uses avoidance motivation, they are looking to avoid or avert a painful outcome.
Needless to say, grandiose narcissists use the approach motivation because they are only motivated by their goals and they don’t bother with the possibility of a negative outcome. By contrast, the vulnerable narcissists will do everything to protect their vulnerable inside and their insecure superiority feelings because they fear to appear weak.
Finally, people who have to deal with narcissistic people, regardless of the form they take, are advised to be careful and mindful of their manipulative tactics and to avoid them as much as they can.