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Factors that Contribute to Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Updated on January 31, 2017
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher. He is a former journalist who has worked on various community and college publications.

Norman Rockwell's Mirror
Norman Rockwell's Mirror | Source

Childhood is a critical time in everyone's life. How we are raised or interact with others during this critical time, can shape the person we'll become. This includes our physical, mental and social health. Thus, it should come as no surprise that people who appear to be "in love with themselves" can trace their affliction to childhood.

Narcissistic personality disorder ( or Narcissism,as it is commonly known) is a condition in which an individual has a self-inflated or grandiose belief about him or herself. Often, a person with this condition will have noticeable traits such as an over-abundance of selfishness, arrogance or self-importance. Also, he/she will be preoccupied with self-image and fantasize about unlimited success. Another important trait – and something that leads to its development – is the person’s lack of empathy toward others.

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The Factors

NPD is rare, but the traits are noticeable. Still, this condition has no known biological or environmental causes. Despite the mystery of its cause, researchers believe that there certain factors that can increase the probability that a person may develop this condition. And, the main area of concerns is the critical time of mental or emotional development a person goes through during childhood.

It was once believed that parents who gave their children too much praise, admiration or indulgence during a critical time in their development lead to NPD. However, psychiatrists who work with people with NPD believe that parental neglect or parental role modeling of inappropriate behavior are more likely responsible.

Two Forms of NPD

According to the article “What is a Personality Disorder?" from Halcyon.com, research conducted on the matter indicates that NPD occurs in two forms. The first form of NPD is characterized by a grandiose state, in the which the person with NPD has strong belief about his or her self-image. They believe that nearly everything they do or say is bigger and better than anyone else.

The second refers to a stable disorder which is defined less by grandiosity and more by severely disturbed interpersonal relations (halcyon.com, 2010). In other words, the second type is based on a narcissistic person’s relationship with others

In either cases, the condition can be corrected by life experiences or through therapy.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, parents who do the following may unintentionally foster the development of NPD in their children. These factors are:

Parental disdain for fears and needs expressed during childhood.

Lack of affection and praise during childhood.

Neglect and emotional abuse in childhood.

Unpredictable or unreliable care-giving from parents.

Learning manipulative behaviors from parents.

Interestingly, many of these factors can be caused by the parents' inconsistent treatment and discipline of the children. Also, neglect, and other factors characterized as "enablers" play a crucial role.

Childhood Interaction as Possible Cause

A child’s emotional development may revolve around the way he or she interacts with people. One crucial interpersonal skill that develops at a young age is empathy.

Empathy is the ability for one to identify or understand someone's feelings and difficulties. Often, it is the ability to relate to others or “place one’s self in another person’s shoe.”

If one has not developed this crucial part of his or her personality, it can lead to problems forming social relationships with others, as well as NPD.

Empathy and Parenting May Be the Key

Learning empathy from parents is crucial in a child’s social/emotional development. That lesson is often taught through the parents’ ability to act as an appropriate role model. At a young age, a child will watch a parent and learn from them how to empathize with others. When that role model lacks that ability to empathize, that lesson is passed on to the child.

Verbal or emotional abuse, neglect, and faulty parental role modeling can affect a child’s view of themselves and others. At an impressionable age, they may learn how to be humble or to be arrogant. They learn to care for others or to be selfish. As a result of parental upbringing, a child may develop healthy or harmful social/emotional skills.

Luckily, NPD can be avoided. Still, it will be based, in a large part, on parenting.Role models in the life of youngsters are critical. Let's hope that parents realize this and show them the right path.

Gaston was narcissistic
Gaston was narcissistic | Source

© 2015 Dean Traylor

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    • profile image

      Unverm 18 months ago

      Thank you very much. I wonder is it also a problem the lack of NPD?

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 19 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      Thank you for your hubs on NPD. Very helpful. So good of you to share your knowldge and insight with others.

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 20 months ago from LA

      I think you are correct. I liked this article. Narcissistic attitudes become a bad habit once formed. Children are naturally loving, empathetic and compassionate unless some force deviates them from their natural path.