Are Narcissists More Likely to Experience Imposter Syndrome?

  1. I like being the most popular person at a party.
  2. I tend to take charge of most situations.
  3. I often fantasize about having lots of success and power.
  4. I aspire for greatness.
  5. I can talk my way into and out of anything.
  6. I will use people as tools to advance myself.
  7. I don’t think the rules apply to me as much as they apply to others.
  8. I don’t generally pay much attention to the woes of others.
  9. I am a superior person.
  10. I will try almost anything to get my “thrills”.

There exists, however, a quieter manifestation of narcissism characterized by extreme sensitivity to slights and a deep shame over grandiose fantasies that lead these individuals to shun the spotlight. Sometimes referred to as the “vulnerable” or the “hypervigilant” narcissist, these individuals are exquisitely sensitive to how others react to them, scoring extremely high in the personality trait neuroticism. The core characteristics of vulnerable narcissism include a highly fragile self-esteem, constant feelings of shame, a hiding of the self, avoidance of feedback, rage when there is criticism, grandiose fantasies of validation, and distrust of the good intentions of others. Here are some test items that capture vulnerable narcissism:

  1. I often feel as if I need compliments from others in order to be sure of myself.
  2. When I realize I have failed at something, I feel humiliated.
  3. When others get a glimpse of my needs, I feel anxious and ashamed.
  4. It irritates me when people don’t notice how good a person I am.
  5. Sometimes I avoid people because I’m afraid they won’t do what I want them to.
  6. I often fantasize about being recognized for my accomplishments.
  7. When someone does something nice for me, I wonder what they want from me.

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