I cringe when I hear people ask the question, “What makes a person a Narcissist?” The reason I cringe is because the answers are often misinterpreted by victims and bring forth feelings of either hope or pity for the Narcissist. Both of these feelings are incredibly dangerous for victims to have, and often serve to keep them hanging onto a relationship with a Narcissist for years, if not decades, only to be continually let down or abandoned. After awhile, one of three things happen: the Narcissist’s behavior becomes so horrid (violent) that the victim either has to leave (or is killed), or so outrageous (lying, cheating, stealing, jaw dropping sense of entitlement, complete indifference to how their actions hurt others) that the victim’s pity and hope finally dies and the victim leaves–or the Narcissist simply decides it’s time for him (or her) to move on to someone else and drops the victim without empathy, sympathy, apology or warning, and moves on to their next target.
Before I move onto the theories behind the development of Narcissism, let me take a moment again to say that Narcissists cannot and will not change. To have hope that they’ll see the errors of their ways or to somehow take pity on them is like having hope and pity for that Nigerian scammer who has been emailing you. Do not be fooled into thinking that because you are in a relationship with a Narcissist that somehow means something to them. It doesn’t. It’s like being married to that same Nigerian scammer. Hell, if I had to choose between a Nigerian scammer and a relationship with a Narcissist, I think I’d choose the Nigerian scammer. After all, both have the potential to drain you financially and emotionally, but at least the scammer is in and out of your life, where a relationship with a Narcissist can go on for decades if you let it.
So back to the original questions: “What make a person a Narcissist?”
There are two main theories.
Theory #1 as to why a person is a Narcissist:
Theory number one is that the Narcissist has suffered from either an abusive childhood, or has had some sort of trauma that has somehow stunted their emotional maturity. This causes them to forever be stuck in self-preservation/surivial mode where they only think about themselves–turning off their empathy and remorse in order to do so. Theory number two is that the Narcissist was raised by parents who overindulged and spoiled them, therefore they have an entitlement attitude and that everything they do is self-serving to reinforce the belief that everything is all about them.
Theory #2 as to why a person is a Narcissist:
Many victims stay with Narcissists that come from a background of abuse. The victims are quick to write off the bad behavior that they are seeing, and often think that their love or enough counseling can somehow transform this person. I get it. I once felt this way too. It seems so heartless to walk out on someone who has already been so victimized themselves. But you have to. I don’t have to tell you this, but Narcissists are rotten to the core. They will take everything you have emotionally, physcially, spiritually and financially and then wonder why you have a problem with that. Do not stay with someone because you pity them. That’s not healthy for you, and it’s high time you started thinking about what’s best for YOU–and not what’s best for them.
Now regardless to the causes of Narcissism, the overwhelming number of professionals agree that Narcissists don’t change–the damage is already done. In fact, there have been some studies done that show that Narcissists can become more dangerous and destructive if they are in therapy, as now they know what the glaringly obvious parts of their personality are the problem, and because they lack remorse, they just learn to hide those parts better.
So instead of asking, “What makes a person a Narcissist?” with the hope that they can change, some better questions to ask are, “How can I avoid a Narcissist in the future?” as well as “How do I heal from a Narcissistic relationship?”
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
Latest posts by Dana (see all)
- Episode 30: Book Club Discussion on “Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse” by Joanna Moore - June 27, 2017
- Live Stream from June 21, 2017 - June 25, 2017
- Episode 28: Gratitude Can Help Keep You Grounded - March 21, 2017