Narcissistic personality order is characterized by symptoms of extreme self-obsession. The term narcissism is derived from the Greek myth in which a beautiful young man, Narcissus, falls in love with his own reflection. Of course, in moderation, there is nothing wrong with a small degree of self-love, and it is in fact healthy. However, a problem arises when a person suffering from narcissism has an exaggerated sense of self-importance and grandiosity, so what are the causes of narcissistic personality disorder?
A narcissist usually thinks the world revolves around them. They crave attention and are often preoccupied by power and success, but such self centered behavior is often a mask for massive insecurities and a very fragile sense of self esteem, which is why a narcissist can sometimes be overly sensitive to criticism—a sub-type of the disorder known as hypervigilant narcissistic personality disorder.
The traits of narcissism have been much discussed by eminent psychologists over the years, but although the exact cause of the personality disorder is as yet unknown, most believe there are risk factors in childhood that can trigger the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder in certain individuals with a genetic predisposition.
The risk factors identified by mental health researchers are generally related to the child’s upbringing. Poor parenting skills are often a factor, and when combined with a predisposition towards narcissistic traits, the symptoms of narcissism can soon develop into full-blown narcissistic personality disorder in adulthood.
What are the causes of narcissistic personality disorder?
A dysfunctional upbringing where parents excessively praise or criticize the child is very unhealthy. Praise always needs to be countered by constructive criticism or the child will grow up with an exaggerated sense of self-importance. This often applies to children who are constantly told they have exceptional looks or talents, despite evidence to the contrary.
- Overindulgence—spoiling a child rotten and failing to set sensible boundaries is always going to lead to problems, but in the most extreme cases, the end result is a narcissist.
- Inconsistent love and attention—parents that shower the child with attention one minute, then ignore them the next cause all kinds of damage.
- Parents who use the child as a means to boost their own self-esteem cause untold damage. For example, the pushy parent who forces the child into activities they hate because it gives the parent a greater sense of self-importance.
- Emotional abuse inflicted by parents or other authority figures in childhood can cause many problems, including the traits of narcissistic personality disorder in adulthood.
- Incest has also been reported as a trigger factor for some cases of narcissistic personality disorder, particularly mother-son cases of incest.
In all likelihood, narcissistic personality disorder develops as a result of a combination of many factors and is the child’s way of coping with the psychological stress inflicted being inflicted on them.
And according to Freud, all children go through a narcissistic early development stage between the ages of 3 and 7, but it is only when failures in parenting or other trigger factors prevent the child from moving forward and maturing into the next stage of development that the problems manifest themselves.