Narcissism: The What, How and Why


“That person is such a narcissist!” Everyone has heard the term thrown around these days – usually referring to someone who seems completely self-absorbed, pining for attention by blowing up social media with hundreds of selfies. However, narcissism is a much more complex condition than simply someone who will do anything for likes and follows.

It is known as a maladaptive personality style.The sad truth is that those with this condition more than likely acquired it from abusive mistreatment or a lack of emotional nurturing as a child. The lasting effects of this type of upbringing has far flung ramifications for the sufferer. Perhaps even more adverse fallout for the people in their lives who bear the brunt of the resulting cruel, manipulative, and selfish behaviors that can result.


What is a narcissism?

The Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental condition in which someone has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” These are people who seem extremely confident on the surface. However every aspect of their lives is controlled by a deep seeded underlying insecurity that is driven by shame and low self-esteem. In effect, narcissists are constantly in fight or flight mode. They are either doing everything they can to flee from their feelings of shame and inadequacy by perpetually chasing admiration and attention or, if they perceive the slightest criticism, an explosive, rageful tantrum may result and the narcissist could engage in vindictive and manipulative behavior to try and sooth themselves.


Narcissism And How does someone become One?

The study of narcissistic personality styles is rife with difficulties. Those with this condition are among the least likely to obtain professional help. Admitting that they have a problem is something that a narcissist is intensely averse to. It triggers their shame complex. As a result of this, the disorder is not very well understood, although researchers believe there is a genetic component that makes someone more susceptible to developing the condition. This, combined with “childhood abuse or neglect, excessive parental pampering, unrealistic expectations from parents… [and/or] cultural influences” according to Healthline, is the recipe for creating a narcissist.


Why is a narcissism personality style such a big problem?


The big difference between narcissism and other mental or personality disorders is the impact it has on those affected. While it’s painful to see a loved one suffer from schizophrenia or depression, typically there won’t be such a heavy reliance on how others interact with them.  Someone with a narcissistic personality style can be prone to extremely harmful behaviors that have long lasting traumatic impacts on those who are subjected to them.


Some of these behaviors include the following:

  • Coercive control where the narcissist keeps their family members isolated from the world, tightly controls finances, and maintains that dynamic through threats.
  • Physical abuse in which a narcissist loses control when in a state of rage and can become violent.
  • Manipulation whereby they will attempt to paint a picture of someone that is not accurate to turn people against them. This can result in consequences such as someone losing their job. This is because a narcissist manipulated others into thinking they were somehow inadequate.
  • Vindictiveness,where the narcissist will attempt to get back at a person for some perceived slight. This results in that person suffering major damage to their reputation or daily life.


The narcissist themselves also suffers, since they are unable to find happiness and contentment from within.  They feel they are not getting all they believe they deserve. For them this can mean a lifetime of superficial and ruined relationships. They are unable to be truly close with anyone at all. A sense of paranoia can prevail throughout their psyche. They are constantly thinking that others are out to get them.  Being on the attack is their way of making the world tolerable.


Is it possible to get help for Narcissism?


It’s extremely unlikely that the narcissist will be open to going into intensive therapy.  They are not likely to try and improve their emotional and behavioral health. If they do decide to begin therapy, it’s usually because they see some type of tactical advantage,  Not because they want to get better.

The best thing you can do is to find yourself a trained therapist. They can help you cope with the fallout. Also assist with the trauma that can come about in a relationship with a narcissist. Therapists can help you understand how to navigate the treacherous waters of a narcissistic relationship. A  therapist can also assist in mitigating some of the damage to your own emotional health that could otherwise occur.