The Narcissist’s Playbook: Potential Causes of a Narcissist (Part 2)

The term ‘Narcissist’ is heavily overused in the world these days.  However, they do exist, and they can be extremely toxic people in marital relationships. Understanding how to spot one and how to deal with one when they are being difficult is really important. And even more important, is how to recover from Narcissistic Abuse. This article series is going to be broken up into different segments: Identifying a Narcissist; Possible Causation of Narcissistic Personality Disorder; Spotting Narcissist Tactics and Habits;  Dealing with a Narcissist; Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse; Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as well ‘de-bunking’ theories of Narcissism.  Society has gotten far too comfortable calling people narcissists without being properly informed. Therefore, to better explain who a narcissist is, how they operate, and how you can handle a narcissist, follow along this series of articles for a 101 on Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Part 2: Potential Causes of a Narcissist- Nature or Nurture

The actual cause of developing Narcissistic Personality Disorder is unknown, but there are a lot of theories out there. Researchers often debate the ever popular “nurture vs. nature” argument when determining the cause of the personality disorder.

Genetic Theory: When it comes to genetics, studies have shown that a person is more likely to develop NPD if someone in their family has had it.  In addition, there have been studies that show the occurrence of specific genes that contribute to the formation of NPD. However, it is unclear if that is due to biological make up of the person, or if the traits become learned overtime from family members that suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Neurobiological Theory: In addition to genetics, there are now studies that show that mental health professionals are able to detect NPD by the use of brain scans. Researchers have found larger amounts of gray matter in areas of the brain that assist a person in processing empathy, in persons suffering from NPD.  Researchers are now using this information to assist in detecting causes of the disorder, some of which can result from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Environmental Theory: The nurture argument bases the development of NPD on childhood parenting and the attachment of a person to their primary caregivers.  When children feel a lack of attachment or connection to other people around them, they begin to feel a sense of being unwanted, or feeling as if something is wrong with them.  Some of the parenting patterns that have been prevalent in people suffering from NPD are: childhood abuse or neglect,; excessive praise of a child, or excessive criticism; unrealistic expectations from parents; excessive admiration of a child, without ever being held accountable for poor decisions; and learning the manipulation tactics from parents or others around the child.

So, although the answer is not clear on whether there is one sole cause of NPD, what is clear is that there are many factors that can play into a person having NPD.  Noticing patterns in someone’s behavior, family medical history, life experiences, and childhood environment, can be key in determining how their rain developed, and how they were taught to process emotions, and whether they may be more susceptible to being diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

Disclaimer: This information is not to assist anyone in making a personal diagnosis, it is simply to educate people on the truth of NPD, and what to look out for.  A clinical diagnosis should always be conducted by a mental health professional.