Sam Vaknin‘s post on Psych daily titled “Narcissism, Pathological“ is an excellent place to start. Sam presents assorted psychological views about the cause of Narcissism, starting with Freud’s work.
Beth K. McDonald presented a paper in September, 2013. It was titled “Out of the Mirror: A Workbook of Healing for Adult Children of Covert Narcissists”
The personality traits of covert narcissism and codependency in adult children who grew up in narcissistic family systems, are examined in Beth K. McDonald’s paper.
Joseph Burgo, in a radio interview, alluded to the coincidence that many diagnosed Narcissists had been abandoned in their early childhood. They were adopted out. They were transferred to other family members (Grandparents) to be cared for.
Sam Vaknin wrote something confirming this in a review of the book titled “The Abandoned Child Within: On Losing and Regaining Self-Worth “
Sam Vaknin wrote:
“Underneath this colourful maelstrom lies an hypothesis: pathological narcissism is the direct outcome of early childhood abuse and trauma, mainly in the form of abandonment or neglect. Narcissism, in other words, is a defense against hurt and emotional injury.”.
Childhood trauma of Rejection and Abandonment, could help explain a Narcissist’s extreme fear of “Rejection”.
Alice Miller has written a post on her site which ties a number of things together. Her post is titled: “The Ignorance or How we produce the Evil”. I’ll have more quotes below, from that Alice Miller post.
What I am sharing in this post is not meant to be an excuse for any Emotional Abuse and Psychological Manipulation by Narcissists. Brain Scans prove that those suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder have specific differences in their Brain Scans when compared to Brain Scans of people who not suffer from NPD.
Alice Miller wrote in her post:
“All the childhood histories of serial killers and dictators I have examined showed them without exception to have been the victims of extreme cruelty”. Major Human Brain development starts during Childhood.”
Alice Miller also wrote :
“Children who are given love, respect, understanding, kindness, and warmth will naturally develop different characteristics from those who experience neglect, contempt, violence or abuse, and never have anyone they can turn to for kindness and affection. Such absence of trust and love is a common denominator in the formative years of all the dictators I have studied. The result is that these children will tend to glorify the violence inflicted upon them and later to take advantage of every possible opportunity to exercise such violence, possibly on a gigantic scale. Children learn by imitation. Their bodies do not learn what we try to instill in them by words but what they have experienced physically. Battered, injured children will learn to batter and injure others; sheltered, respected children will learn to respect and protect those weaker than themselves. Children have nothing else to go on but their own experiences.”
The well-known American pediatrician Dr. Brazelton once filmed a group of mothers holding and feeding their babies, each in her own particular way. More than 20 years later he repeated the experiment with the women those babies had grown into and who now had babies themselves. Astoundingly, they all held their babies in exactly the same way as they had been held by their mothers, although of course they had no conscious memories from those early years. One of the things Braselton proved with this experiment was that we are influenced in our behavior by our unconscious memories. And those memories can be life affirming and affectionate or traumatic and destructive.”
“In the 1970s the French gynecologist Frédéric Leboyer demonstrated that babies delivered without physical force and given a loving reception by their immediate environment show no signs of desperate crying or any kind of destructiveness. In fact they will even smile only a few minutes after birth. As long as they are not separated after birth, as was the custom in the 1950s, mother and child will develop a relationship of trust that will have positive repercussions on the entire further course of the children’s lives. In the physical presence of her baby, the mother will produce the so-called love hormone (oxytocin) enabling her intuitively to understand the signals emitted by the child and to care for its needs by a process of empathy. These phenomena are described by Michel Odent in his latest book (“The Scientification of Love”, London, Free Association, 1999).”
There are always two sides to every coin. Actually there are three, as we often forget about the sharp edge of the coin. So it may be with Narcissists. that one side of the coin indicates that the Evil could be created and not genetic. The other side of the very same coin, points to everyone being born Narcissistic.
“It is the psychoanalytic belief that we are all Narcissists at an early stage of our lives. As infants and toddlers we all feel that we are the center of the Universe, the most important, omnipotent and omniscient beings.
At that phase of our development, our parents are perceived by us to be mythical figures, immortal and awesomely powerful, there solely to cater to our needs, to protect and nourish us.
Both Self and others are viewed immaturely, as idealizations. This, in the psychodynamic models, is called the phase of “primary” narcissism.
Inevitably, the inexorable processes and conflicts of life erode these perceptions and reduce the ideal into the the real.
Adaptation is a process of disillusionment. If this process is abrupt, inconsistent, unpredictable, capricious, arbitrary and intense – the injuries sustained by the infant’s tender, budding, self-esteem, are severe and, often, irreversible. Moreover, the empathic support of our caretakers (the Primary Objects, the parents) is crucial. In its absence, our sense of self-worth and self-esteem in adulthood tends to fluctuate, to alternate between over-valuation (idealization) and devaluation of both Self and others. Narcissistic adults are widely thought to be the result of bitter disappointment, of radical disillusionment in the significant others in their infancy. Healthy adults accept their self-limitations (the boundaries and limitations of their selves). They accept disappointments, setbacks, failures, criticism and disillusionment with grace and tolerance. Their self-esteem is constant and positive, not substantially affected by outside events, no matter how severe.”
As young children they felt abandoned and alone, without anyone showing them any Love and Empathy. They were adopted out to strangers. They were sent off to live away from their Mothers to be taken care of a relative such as a Grandparent. Such relatives may not be the kindest and most loving people. Their Inner Child holds on to that. Then as an adult, they are incapable of showing Love and Empathy for others. Their Inner Child also has a major fear of being rejected and abandoned, yet again.
It also explains a common thread which I have witnessed, in that Narcissists have “major issues” with their Mothers. Those issues are also projected onto all other females, because the Mother who abandoned the Child was a female.
When the Evil is created, no amount of therapy can undo the damage. Brain Scans prove that Narcissist’s brains function differently. The childhood trauma may have created physical changes in Brain Function as the young Brain was starting to develop, not just psychological changes.
The debate whether Narcissists are born or they are created, will continue as long as there will be Narcissists. The answer may in fact be along the edge of that coin, as it connects both sides of the coin. Maybe both Genetics and Environment play roles in creating said Evil. The Evil being nothing more than an adaptation by the Narcissist to try and survive the childhood trauma and genetics. Life is rarely Back & White.
This all could amount to yet another “Red Flag” to look for. Was the person adopted? Was the new love of your life, raised by their Mother or by someone else? If they were raise by someone other than their birth Mother, how does their face look when they speak about the people who raised them? Body language and facial expression can often tell you more than spoken words. They can say that they loved the person who brought them up, but their facial expression could display sadness or anger.
If you get a gut feeling that their words do not match their facial expressions, then ask more questions and watch their face and body language. Do they go into a defensive posture (ex fold their arms in front of them, before or as they answer you). Answers to those types of questions, could give you clues about individuals who “may” very well be suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder due to very early Childhood Trauma created when they were just an infant and or toddler. Unfortunately, Narcissists do not come with “Warning” labels.
Originally posted to https://uniquelynarcissistic.wordpress.com