Today’s lesson in narcissism comes from a study that looked at the correlation between narcissism and competitiveness. It found that the overt, or grandiose, form of narcissism was positively correlated with both general competitiveness and hypercompetitiveness, while the covert, or vulnerable, kind had a positive correlation only with hypercompetitiveness.
That is, we covert narcissists don’t care much for competition, but if forced to compete, we take it very seriously. “This negative relationship fits with conceptual and theoretical notions of covert narcissism as covert narcissists do not consciously desire competitive situations since they are invested in protecting a view of themselves as empathic, responsive, selfless, and helpful.” I’m not sure I buy this explanation (though I might if it were written and punctuated better). I think it’s more that our self-worth depends entirely on comparing favorably with others, so we are crushed by defeat. “Instead of ﬁnding competition enjoyable and satisfying, covert narcissists tend to view competitive situations as exploitive and hostile social interactions.” That explains why I took losing at Risk so personally, and why I tried to kill myself after losing at poker.