Childhood origins of narcissism.
As a narcissist is all about themselves. They feel entitled to use others to better themselves.
A human’s sense of self-worth develops in early childhood and their relationship with those around them.
So if a lack of self-worth is one of the reasons why a person ends up with characteristics and behaviours of narcissism and self-esteem is developed in early childhood, it seems that something could have gone drastically wrong in the narcissists’ early childhood.
This could be down to the attachment in early childhood with the narcissist and their primary caregivers, where the narcissist didn’t form a healthy attachment with their primary caregiver. Yet, not all humans will develop a healthy attachment with their primary caregiver and not go on to be envious of others, exploit others or lack empathy towards others, leading more towards the theory that it’s a choice the narcissist makes.
The attachment system is a natural biological need to drive us to form a secure bond with our primary caregivers in childhood. Our brains are social organs; brain development and social development interact within themselves.
Basic human needs for the human body are a good varied diet of food and water, also shelter. For the mind, it needs comfort, hugs, play, certainty, love and connection, growth, communication, safety, security, a need to feel understood and validated, a need to grow and develop a sense of self, and interaction with others. Suppose this is missing in early childhood. People can then have profound deficits in brain functioning.
Good parenting in early childhood is unconditional love, a sense of wonder, a sense of amazement, and a sense of responsibility, with the parent not being able to wait to see them, to watch them grow, develop and learn, to watch their children learn the things they love for themselves and help them achieve these, proud of the child for who they are. To support and love unconditionally, wanting what’s best for the child, and to see their child happy, while imposing appropriate boundaries and values. Teaching the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong, how to treat others, respect, and manners. How to care for others. While at the same time, positivity and praise for who they are.
For narcissism to develop, something could have been greatly missing from childhood.
Often narcissistic parents either raise a scapegoat or a golden child or the forgotten child. Some children will grow up with greater empathy towards others. Some will grow up narcissistic. Which is why it’s vital children have limited contact with emotional abusers and lots of positivity and boundaries with the healthy parent.
As a narcissistic parent relates to their children as an extension of themselves. So the child is never seen for who they are, but for what they can provide for the parent. Often the child is made to feel more of a friend as they grow, then taking over the parental role as the child has to comfort the parent, regulating the parent’s emotions, so the child’s self-development is slowed as they have to meet the narcissistic parent’s needs, often trained into becoming co-dependent.
This happens either by the parent making the child the scapegoat, repeatedly putting the child down, or not allowing them to express their true sense of self. If they are crushed and criticised at every turn, they will become more vulnerable, making the child believe they are unimportant and unlovable. They then start to hide these feelings burying them deep within themselves to protect themselves from feeling hurt. Through being ignored and receiving constant criticism and humiliation, or they are ignored because they don’t conform. They may develop narcissism to cope and feel better within themselves. They may become a greater empathetic person knowing how much it hurts, wanting to protect others, and often becoming a people pleaser for fear of rejection, leading more towards it being a choice that narcissists make. Some people choose to help others. Others choose to hurt others. Both can be to feel better about themselves.
Narcissistic parents can make the child the golden child, idealising them, making them believe they are better than all others, so the narcissist forces them into hobbies that the narcissist enjoys, not allowing the child to develop the sense of what the child enjoys, with excessive praise for not only achieving but more emphasis on beating all others, creating a highly competitive child, and not one who is in competition with themselves to do better than they did before, one who becomes arrogant, failing to see their own weaknesses and exploiting the weaknesses in others, becoming resentful and envious of others, creating competitions for the narcissist to win so they can feel superior, that with the excessive criticism when they fail to hit the top mark, can often make them highly critical of others. Narcissistic parents also often ignore their children when the child cannot reach the narcissist’s expectations. The child may grow with great empathy towards others as they know how others feel when others have compared, mocked and criticised them, or with high levels of narcissistic tendencies as they’ve been conditioned into that way of thinking and behaving, they make a choice that although that behaviour hurt them, they’re entitled to hurt others. They often get pleasure out of another’s pain.
Or the forgotten child, often given no encouragement, no support, ignored completely and left to do as they please, neglected in many ways. Again they may grow with greater empathy towards others or with more narcissistic tendencies towards others.
In any of the cases, the child may learn they have to act a false way to who they indeed are in order to feel loved, appreciated and respected. So they have to develop fake qualities to protect themselves from their parents and also to get approval from their parents. To cope, they bury their vulnerabilities, creating a false self to please others.
The parent may burden the child with all the parent’s problems, so the child almost becomes a counsellor to the parent. Or continuously put down the other parent to the child, all messing with the child’s true sense of reality.
The children become aware of the parent’s moods and how they need to act around the parent to protect themselves as they learn from a young; if they don’t comply with the narcissistic parent’s demands, the parent may punish them, the parent might, tantrum, give criticism, and withdraw affection, attention and support from the child. So the child ends up creating a false outer self to protect themselves. That false outer self takes over their mindset to create a false inner self, as they don’t often get to experience reality. They accept this as reality, becoming extremely cynical, often believing that’s just how all humans are to survive.
Most toddlers sulk and lie to protect themselves, instinct and human nature. They usually grow out of this. Teenagers with hormones can appear to be narcissistic. Again, they do grow out of this. People who are not on the spectrum of the disorder can lie if they believe the truth could hurt another, the guilt from that lie will usually hurt them, and they’ll come clean. Some adults who aren’t narcissistic can seem sulky or fall silent if there feel misunderstood or hurt. Narcissistic people tend not to feel guilty. They feel shamed by others when caught, which is why they swiftly pass the blame.
Those children raised by narcissistic parents who grow up to be narcissistic themselves. As a child, they disconnected themselves from their Vulnerabilities, disappointments, and self-awareness in order to protect themselves.
Abuse is abuse with no excuse, and narcissism isn’t to excuse their behaviour. It can explain their behaviour to give people more understanding. However, their behaviour is a choice, a choice that they make through conscious intent, or subconscious conditioning, instinctive. Either way, a narcissist lacks the empathy to care for how their behaviour affects you.
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