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Covert Narcissists: Toxic Personalities In The Real World (Part 2)

Could you be living with a covert narcissist? In part two of the "Toxic Personalities in the Real World” Phil in the Blanks podcast series, Dr. Phil takes you through the traits and behaviors of a covert narcissist and how to respond so you don't end up feeling manipulated and controlled.

“Do not bluff with a narcissist; all it does is throw gas on the fire,” Dr. Phil says.

This series addresses Narcissistic Personality Disorder; how to recognize it, establish boundaries, and how to coexist with those in your life who may have it with tools and guidelines that can help minimize damage to oneself and loved ones.


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Passive Aggressive

Signs You May Be In A Relationship With A Covert Narcissist:

  • Extreme sensitivity to criticism

  • Passive-aggressive

  • Sabotaging and Mocking

  • Silent Treatment

"They are highly sensitive to criticism. Passive aggressive in their behavior. They are always sabotaging you, mocking you. Giving you the silent treatment. Guilt inducing you."
  • Putting themselves down

"They seem to put themselves down but not really. For example, they will say, "Well, you know, I just I don't have all the answers here, but they wouldn't listen anyway. They won't listen to me."

  • Shy or withdrawn

  • May have anxiety or depression

  • Holds grudges/Envious

"They are shy, meaning, they don't get into the arena. They have grandiose fantasies about being the smartest person in the world, but they do have depression and anxiety. They tend to hold grudges. They envy people who do well."

  • Feelings of inadequacy

  • Fake empathy and may mimic behavior

"A covert narcissist lives in this fog of inadequacy and they fake empathy. They don't really care about anybody. But if they've seen it on TV, or maybe they went to therapy for a little while, they will mimic the behavior."

Narcissistic Tactics

22 commentaires

Kaity Sue
Kaity Sue
04 oct. 2022

Dr Phil,

Hi! My name is Kaity and I wanted to sincerely thank you from my heart for the work you do and for taking the time on your podcast to help people like myself. All you did for me was validated my feelings and reassured me that I’m not crazy! Unfortunately my life has been filled with these kids of people especially the men in my life. Thank you for giving so freely the tools I needed to protect myself. My Mother use to say better late than never! I believe God sent you to me in a way I would of never fathomed! I’ve watched since Oprah and you very first episod! I once started to write …


I am 61 and from a broken home. My mother was clinically diagnosed in 1981/82 as a narcissist. She did not tell us her diagnosis but I know she received shock therapy. Now, after 32 years of marriage I realized I'm married to a covert narc. I've realized what he is and not playing his game any longer so it looks like i'm on the way out. It's painful to realize the truth that he NEVER loved me. I really don't care about him but I care deeply about our three children. Because I found out in 2019 that my mother had been dogging me to my eldest daughter, for years, I'm pretty sure he will do this as we…


Dr Phil,

I hope you will continue expanding on this series. As the adult daughter I’m still healing from the effects of having grown up with a covert narc. as a mother. Those of us that grew up in these homes struggle with having boundaries when we were taught to serve without questioning and to be loyal till death. Thank you for sharing such an educational series!!


Hello Dr. Phil,

First, thank you for your podcasts. The precision and examples of situations make the information very clear and enlightening.

I now understand clearly that I have narcissist and covert narcissist members in my family. For years I did not understand why I felt so bad after seeing them. Like if anything I say, do or think is wrong. Up to a point where I just felt better shuting up, staying quiet, invisible.

Distancing myself has brought me some clarity and new perspective.

I would like to know why they are able to be nice with some people, and not others.

Thanks for all that you do,

Marie C.


Hi Dr. Phil,

I have a request for a related podcast topic. Your series on narcissistic personalities was recommended on a Co-Parenting with Narcissists Facebook group and I have to first say that I'm so glad I listened to it. My stepson's mother demonstrates all of the traits of covert narcissism. In person, she is shy and quiet; we've only ever had a few brief conversations and I was the one to initiate them. But behind closed doors (i.e. behind her phone/computer screens and in her home), she believes she's better than everyone around her; she has no friends, she talks negatively about everyone, and she's extremely toxic and bitter. I would love to have some additional tools and tips…

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