What makes a person a narcissist

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

1- An inferiority complex developed early in life

Narcissism can develop as a result of the person believing that they are inferior to others. When a person's ego gets crushed as a result of believing that they are not that important or not as worthy as others the person will feel inferior.

In order to compensate for this kind of inferiority some people develop the defense mechanism of Narcissism in order to protect their egos from further hurt. In such a case the Narcissist devalues the ones who don't glorify them because they remind them of their old wounds. Narcissists also keep the ones who praise them closer to them because they help them feel good about themselves. See also The Narcissist, the Over Confident and the Inferior.

2- Neglectful/abusive parenting

A person can become a Narcissist if they were raised by neglectful or abusive parents. Children always look up to their parents to know how worthy they truly are. If a child was abused or neglected by a parent then the child might conclude that they are totally worthless.

This conclusion results in a similar Narcissistic wound to the one described above and so the child ends up feeling inferior. While some children give up and consider themselves truly worthless others develop Narcissism to protect themselves from further devaluation by others. See also Why Narcissists hate you & Why do narcissists get depressed.

3- Excessive praise by parents or excessive pampering

Narcissism could also be developed for totally opposite reasons. If the parents kept praising the child excessively and made them believe that they are special, unique and superior to others then the child can develop Narcissism.

Excessive pampering is also one of the things that makes a child feel very special and this can result in the development of Narcissism. I said earlier that adults strive to replicate the good conditions they were raised in when they were children and so the child who got excessive praise usually develops the unconscious goal of getting that praise from everyone they meet in the future. See How your past affects your present & How the environment affects child development.

4- Being raised by a Narcissistic parent

Sometimes being raised by a Narcissistic parent can result in the development of Narcissism. When a child is taught to believe in Narcissistic values they might end up becoming Narcissists themselves.

Parents who only praise their children when they make great achievements and those who devalue their children when they don't become over achievers usually raise Narcissistic children.

In such a case the child learns that self worth is connected to excessive achievements and so they only feel worthy when they achieve something significant. See How to deal with a narcissist.

5- Rejection, Neglect and social isolation

Narcissism can also develop at later stages of life. If a person was rejected by their friends, significant others or important people in their social circle then they might also develop Narcissism to protect their egos.

In such a case the sole purpose of Narcissism is to help the person feel good about themselves and to prevent them from feeling inferior again. See Why do women find Narcissists so Attractive.

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