Clinical NPD has risen, by one estimate, to 6% of the population from 1% in the 1980’s. It’s hard to know the real number since narcissists think too highly of themselves to get treatment. "Nothing is wrong with me, I’m perfect!" But the majority of symptoms of NPD; inflated self image combined with fragile self-esteem, fantasizing about success, exaggerated claims of achievements, expecting praise, thinking they’re special, taking advantage of others, jealousy, believing others are envious of them, and setting unrealistic goals, are becoming descriptive of mainstream Americans.
Combine these traits with a lack of empathy and you have clinical NPD. A true narcissist does not display these traits when you first meet them, because they require attention and admiration. Most of these symptoms are hidden until you prove to be of no value to the narcissist, then they have no remorse in proving their superiority at your expense. There is one theory that the housing bubble was caused by narcissists believing they were entitled to, and could afford, million dollar homes with no realistic way to pay for them.
The most accepted theoretical cause of clinical NPD is problems in the child-parent relationship before age three. Interestingly, the relationship problems can be either excessive pampering or abuse and trauma. It’s thought that either condition causes the child to direct their attention inward for emotional security, rather than outwardly towards their parents or caregivers, and forms a life-long pattern of low self-esteem, inflated self worth, extreme self-preoccupation, and a lack of empathy since others are not important in this self-protection model.
Are we pampering our children too much? Is child abuse and neglect on the rise? If they are, the likely result will be more narcissists. If you have ever had a relationship with one, you’ll pray we are not creating more.