What Causes Narcissism?

What Causes Narcissism?

As we’ve shared on past blog posts, Narcissism is a big topic for our clients lately. Although the term is heavily overused, we’ve worked to educate our audience on how to spot them, what to do if you’re married to one and overcoming abuse from a narcissist. 

This week, we’re diving deep into the causes of narcissism. 

Genetic Theory

Studies have shown that a person is more likely to develop NPD if someone in their family has had it. It is unknown; however, if the narcissistic traits are due to the biological make-up of the person, or if the traits become learned over time from family members that suffer from it.

Neurobiological Theory

According to various studies, medical professionals are able to identify NPD by conducting brain scans. Researchers have found larger amounts of gray matter in areas of the brain that assist a person in processing empathy. These researchers are now using these studies to identify causes of the disorder, many of which are from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Environmental Theory

The last theory explains that NPD is a result of childhood parenting and the attachment of a person to their caregivers. When children feel a lack of attachment or connection to other people around them, they begin to feel a sense of being unwanted. Some of the parenting patterns that have been prevalent in people suffering from NPD are: 

  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Excessive praise or criticism of a child
  • Unrealistic expectations from parents
  • Over-admiring of a child

Bottom line, there is no clear answer to what causes narcissism, but we do have a few theories to work with. Paying attention to patterns in someone’s behavior and see trends in their childhood might give you some clues for whether or not they’re a narcissist. 

Disclaimer: A clinical diagnosis should always be conducted by a mental health professional. If you think your spouse is a narcissist, we recommend seeking help from a medical professional to diagnose them. 


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