If we want to understand the psyche of a narcissist, we have to get to the root, which is often a fraught childhood and dysfunctional upbringing. In this article, we attempt to establish the link between narcissism and childhood abuse, and how childhood trauma creates narcissists.
The word narcissist is increasingly becoming a buzzword in our individualistic modern society. But does narcissism merely mean being self-centered or do we need to look deeper into the traits of narcissists to fully grasp the extent of the pain that narcissism inflicts upon others?
Although much work is still needed in this area, it’s a widely accepted fact that genetic factors, home environment, and relationship dynamics within a family heavily influence the overall personality development of a child. Naturally, like any other psychological issue, the formative years of one’s childhood play an important role in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
What Is Narcissism?
Before continuing to elaborate more on how childhood trauma creates narcissists, let’s get clear on the definition and characteristics of a narcissistic personality.
Mental health professionals define narcissism as a continuous behavioral pattern of grandiosity with a constant demand for admiration, and a shockingly missing sense of empathy or the capability to feel others’ emotions.
Some Other Features Of A Narcissistic Personality:
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- Desire to be always treated as someone special
- Covert narcissists project themselves as someone timid and ineffective but secretly fantasize about their over-hyped sense of self.
How Childhood Trauma Creates Narcissists?
Now let’s look at some of the ways through which a dysfunctional upbringing and childhood trauma create narcissistic personalities.
1. Absorbing Narcissistic Abuse
In a family where a child faces narcissistic abuse from one or more parents, they develop narcissistic tendencies as a defensive response to excessive criticism, physical or mental abuse, or neglect. Narcissism emerges from the emotional injuries of shame, hurt, deprivation, and loss. The child becomes bitter with all the trauma faced at such a tender age.
2. Pain That Gives Way To Self-Centeredness
A narcissistic parent does not show any empathy towards their child and will not take into account the child’s feelings, fears, or needs. This makes the child responsible for their own happiness and well-being from a very early age. This might lead to self-centeredness and as the child grows they will tend to get more and more focussed on themselves, with little or no regard for others. As adults, they might feel their problems are much bigger and more important than others.