Narcissism – the secrets behind the mask ? What are they?
In other words we are asking what are the root causes of Narcissism which lead to the individual behaving as they do . It is well recognised that the person underneath “the mask ” is very different to the one we see…the mask typically covers up feelings of inadequacy, shame , inferiority , fragility and low self esteem to mention a few .
However the mask has been worn for so long that the individual doesn’t even realize that they are living an unauthentic life . The fact that the mask is covering up another whole side of their personality also accounts to some degree for the Jekyll and Hyde personality in which we see the monster one minute and the charming person the next! A little bit of ‘niceness’ pops through only to be put back in its box and be replaced by the ‘evil’ side of the individual.
This makes it very hard to treat anyone with Narcissistic traits as they do not believe they have a problem! We have the problem ! Of course! Why did we not see that!
What are the root causes of Narcissism?
There is still much debate about what causes an individual to develop Narcissism however it is thought to be a combination of childhood experiences, genetics and biological vulnerability as well as psychological factors.
- Childhood Experiences
- Psychological Factors /Biological Vulnerability
The types of childhood experience that may lead to the development of Narcissism later on in adolescence or adulthood are, on the one hand , abuse , neglect , living in a chaotic environment with a narcissistic parent and/or having parents who have excessively high expectations .Often these parents are living out their unfulfilled dreams or aspirations through their children and can put untold pressure on the child to achieve while making the parent feel good.
On the other hand the opposite can be true . This happens when so called “helicopter parenting” takes place . The parents mollycoddle the children , protecting them from any possible harm , making them feel “special”, with a sense of entitlement and a feeling that they can have what they want when they want .
Both these types of parenting can lead to low self esteem in children which may result in them feeling the need to cover up their insecurities by attention seeking (ie.class clown) or by putting down others to make themselves feel better (ie.bullying) both of which are classic examples of narcissistic behaviour.
The jury is out on whether or not genetics plays a part in the development of Narcissism. This is mainly due to the fact that not enough studies have been conducted to say one way or the other . Can you guess why there have been so few studies ? You got it !! Yes thats right , Narcissists dont think they have a problem so they are not inclined to seek treatment or to participate in studies !! LOL !!
One school of thought is that there may be an abnormality in the connect between the brain and the behaviour and if this is true then it stands to reason that this abnormality may be inherited .
So whether its nature or nurture , opinion is divided but what all agree on is that the is a definite link between narcissism and childhood abuse . If a child is exposed to narcissistic behaviour they have a much higher chance of developing those traits themselves
Psychological Factors/Biological Vulnerability
The temperament of a child has much to do with the way they behave as they develop. Some kids are very outgoing, some are painfully shy and some are a mixture . Two children in the same family may be exposed to Narcisstic behaviour by parents or caregivers …one may develop Narcissistic traits and the other may not . Psychological and biological vulnerabilities vary from child to child , hence it is unpredictable as to who will develop traits of Narcissism and who will not .
We have learnt that the narcissist’s ‘disorder’ stems from the conflict between two different sets of beliefs about the self . They harbour deep seated feelings of inferiority ie. the secrets behind the mask , on the inside while on the exterior they project feelings of superiority which keep the self – loathing at bay. BUT the narcissist must keep reinforcing their superiority by whatever means they can ie. bullying, manipulating, exaggerating and generally making sure the world revolves around them …because they are the most important people in their own lives…..as they are (they think!) in the lives of all around them!
Bye for now my friends!
I hope you enjoyed these insights into the prickly subject of Narcissism-the secrets behind the mask….all of which come from my lived experience ! If so feel free to leave a comment below , I’d love to hear about your experiences too !
Hope to connect with you again soon and remember …….