Expert Q&A: What Makes a Person Become a Narcissist? Are They Born That Way? by Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist

2 years ago

Expert Q&A: What Makes a Person Become a Narcissist? Are They Born That Way?

Q. What makes a person become narcissistic? Are they born like that or is the environment they been raised?

A. Thanks for your question, its a good one that doesn't have a clear black and white answer. Several factors can play into someone developing narcissistic personality disorder such as their environment, genetics and how their brains are wired. If a parent offers either excessive praise or excessive criticism that doesn’t match with the child’s experience this causes incongruence and confusion for the child’s developing ego. 

For example, a parent tells their son they were the best player on the field when in fact their son dropped a pop fly and lost the game for the team and had to hear his teammates call him names. Also, if a parent has narcissism there may be a genetic predisposition for the disorder. Combine that with a parent modeling narcissistic behaviors and its easy to see how these harmful personality traits get passed down in families. 

Studies have shown this disorder is more often seen in men in late teen and early adulthood. Many children can display characteristics of narcissist tendencies, but it does not mean they will develop the disorder.

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Elisa Schmitz
I have always wondered this, and it's clear that it's so hard to know. But your perspective is so appreciated. Thank you for your insights, Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist !
I personally think narcissists can been born that way, or made into that way.
I know a couple of them. Not fun!

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