Before we start to talk about narcissism causes, I just want to say that this post is not intended to elicit sympathy from you for the narcissist.
In my experience, I’ve concluded that narcissists know full well what they are doing. They are not ignorant of how they treat people and make others feel.
However, I recognize that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is just that: a disorder. For some reason, their brains have been wired to behave in certain ways to protect themselves, even at the expense of others.
Still, I have no sympathy for the abusive and toxic ones.
What I do have is a natural curiosity to understand why! Why do they treat us this way? Why are they so destructive?
Perhaps a better understanding of the cause of narcissism will help you change how you perceive the narcissist. They are not evil but dealing with one is vastly different from dealing with other people in your life.
And maybe it will help you realize that YOU DID NOT CAUSE THEM TO BECOME NARCISSISTS. The caps are necessary since many people, unfortunately, believe that they are the reason they are being treated poorly.
Just keep in mind that there is no one definitive cause of narcissism. Developing narcissism is the result of a variety of factors, which we’ll look at in this article:
4 Possible Narcissism Causes
1. Childhood Trauma
Can trauma cause narcissism? It sure can!
Childhood trauma is the most common cause of narcissism. If an individual was abused (physically, sexually, emotionally, or intellectually) as a child, this can cause scarring that leads to narcissistic tendencies.
In many cases, the child is abused by one parent while the other turns a blind eye. Without the other parent intervening, the child feels unsupported and unheard.
But the abuse doesn’t have to come from just a parent. The child could be abused by anyone and can lead to narcissism if left unaddressed and unresolved.
All of this causes the child to grow up aware of the needs of others while theirs are ignored, believing that no one is there for them. This teaches them to ignore empathy and develop behaviors that protect their sense of self.
Studies have shown a link between narcissistic traits and different parenting styles. However, no specific parenting style causes narcissism, but a combination of styles and other factors such as genetics can cause Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Overall, children display higher levels of narcissistic traits if their parents were overprotective (“helicopter” parents), lacked warmth, set few boundaries, praised perfection, and expected unrealistic results.
In particular, being raised by overprotective parents was linked to narcissism in young adults, with overpraising causing a sense of grandiosity.
When I say environment, I don’t mean climate. Environmental factors such as parenting and culture can be a potential cause of narcissism.
For example, narcissism is more common in cultures that focus more on individualism and the person’s rights and goals than in collectivistic cultures that focus on what is best for the group.
Studies in Germany showed those raised in former West Germany, which was individualistic, showed more narcissistic traits than those raised in East Germany, where the culture is more community-based.
Lastly, it seems that genetics can also play a role in causing Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Twin studies have found that some narcissistic traits, such as grandiosity and entitlement, are hereditary.
Twin studies typically involve studying twins raised in different environments. So the conclusions from these studies indicate that even if each twin is raised in separate environments, they still display narcissistic traits.
However, there is no solid evidence to support the idea that narcissism is completely genetic. While a person may be biologically predisposed to developing NPD, developing this disorder often requires external factors such as abuse, improper parenting, and environmental influence.
What Are the Risk Factors For Narcissism?
Because the cause of narcissism is linked to the above factors, it’s different to determine the actual risk factors for developing NPD. Studies have produced mixed findings when it comes to risk factors for children.
However, NPD is more prevalent in males and is diagnosed more in men than women. In the United States, NPD affects 4.8% of women and 7.7% of men.
But this doesn’t consider that NPD, due to the nature of its symptoms, is largely undiagnosed.
Does Narcissism Worsen With Age?
As of right now, there are no studies that can give a definitive answer to this question. Studies comparing younger adults and older adults suggest that those with NPD may mellow out as they get older.
However, based on anecdotal data, it’s possible that narcissists don’t become more empathetic or agreeable as they age. Aging itself can be rough on one’s self-esteem since it increases vulnerability and dependency, so when it comes to a narcissist, it could worsen their behaviors.
But I have heard stories about people dealing with narcissists that find they do chill out as they get older. It could be that their behaviors are strongly linked with immaturity and as they mature, they come to realize how their behaviors affect other people and start changing the way they act.
Why is Narcissism So Common?
The world of psychology is an interesting one since our understanding of disorders has evolved over the years. Could it be that narcissism is more common because we better understand NPD?
Well, research suggests that NPD is more prevalent nowadays because of our culture – young people are more focused on success, money, and personal recognition, reporting higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of empathy.
Can we blame social media? Probably, since it does increase the perceived importance of personal image and creates a “me me me” culture.
Otherwise, it could be that parents today are more likely to encourage their children to be unique and be overly doting.
The Cause of Narcissism – Mysteries Revealed
There you have it!
Now you know that narcissists don’t just wake up one morning and think, “I’m going to be an abusive and toxic garbage person and the lives of those around me a living hell.”
And now you also know that you are not the cause of their narcissism. Even if we don’t know the exact cause of narcissism, we know it took years of mistreatment for them to develop narcissistic traits and behaviors.
What do you think? Do you think there’s another cause of narcissism? Let us know in the comments below!