Home  >  My Life  >  Reflections

What Causes Narcissism? The Facts & Theories to Read a Narcissist

It seems that the term “narcissist” is a hot topic these days, but have you ever stopped to think about what causes narcissism in the first place?

what causes narcissism

We often hear the word “narcissist” bandied about these days. In reality, true narcissism is quite rare. However, when you come into contact with an actual narcissist, there will be no doubt. And it might make you wonder, what causes narcissism?

Why is narcissism on the rise?

The reason we hear the word so much is because there is a lot of cruelty in the world. People treat others badly: lying, cheating, manipulating, and all of this causes pain and heartache for those unlucky enough to have fallen for someone with such negativity in their heart. Narcissism in a relationship is no easy task. Most unions which are touched by narcissism don’t actually survive.

It’s hard to remain in a “loving” relationship when you’re constantly being dragged down and manipulated.

[Read: The secret signs of narcissism you shouldn’t overlook]

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you have my sympathy. I’ve been in this situation and believe me, it’s not a situation I’d want to be in again. It’s awful to be torn between loving someone who is so wonderful to you one minute and cruel the next. You don’t know where you really stand, and you have no idea if you’re imagining half of it or not.

Whether you’re touched by a narcissistic relationship or not, it’s important to understand what narcissism actually is at its very core. So, what causes narcissism. What is it exactly?

What is narcissism?

A true narcissist has a personality disorder, called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD. This isn’t a mental illness, but a behavioral issue, and falls under the umbrella of personality disorders.

A narcissist has a distinct lack of empathy. Before you jump on the bandwagon and label all narcissists as bad people, it’s actually something they can’t help. They don’t know how to love and feel empathy towards other people, because they’ve never felt it in their lives.

They’re incapable of showing real emotion, and their lack of empathy causes them to unwittingly hurt others. At the heart of it all is often a lack of self-confidence and low self-worth too.

[Read: Why narcissists do the selfish things they do]

A narcissistic person usually displays the following traits:

– An inflated sense of self, e.g. they have a high opinion of themselves on the outside, but often don’t really feel it genuinely on the inside

– Rarely admit they’re wrong

– Usually value their own opinion as truth, and doesn’t consider anyone else’s views as valid

– Doesn’t take criticism well and can often lash out

– Turn everything around to avoid taking blame

– Use manipulative tactics in order to ensure others stay close to them and do as they please, this is usually through gaslighting, i.e. making someone else start to question themselves and their own sanity [Read: 14 signs someone’s gaslighting and playing mind games with you]

– Controlling behavior

These are just a few of the most common narcissistic traits you’ll come across in the general walk of life. If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, another common trait is isolating you from the people in your life, e.g. family and friends. This is because they see these people as threats and want to keep you firmly in their control.

The outcome of a narcissistic relationship isn’t particularly rosy. You might want me to tell you that love can conquer all, but when you’re stuck in the middle of a situation which drags you down, it’s hard to see anything bright or sunny.

Narcissists do not know how to love in the same way as someone who doesn’t have narcissism. They feel something, but it’s not the “I’d do anything for you” kind of love that most of us feel. It’s more selfish and one-sided.

That brings us once more to the idea that narcissists are bad people. It’s hard to argue against it, but understand that there isn’t a choice in whether someone is narcissistic or not. They simply are because they have a personality disorder. So, what causes narcissism and all of this pain and heartache? [Read: 16 subtle hints narcissist give away as soon as you meet them]

Do we know what causes narcissism?

The good news is that we know what narcissism is, the bad news is that there is no 100% accurate explanation of what causes narcissism. There are a few ideas which are backed up by studies, but just as we don’t truly understand what causes any personality disorder, it still remains a bit of a mystery.

Every person is different which means one size descriptions don’t fit all.

Despite that, researchers consider the following to be the most probable causes of narcissism:

– Genetic issues

– Issues which occurred in childhood, e.g. poor parenting

– Psychological issues

– Being praised too much when they were children

– Parents who focused too much on looks or talent and didn’t focus enough on giving love

– Traumatic experiences

– A history of excessive criticism

Narcissists aren’t necessarily born with NPD, and it can develop due to problems throughout life. In most cases, this is what happens, but there is very little evidence to really conclude X, Y, and Z as the main precursors to NPD.

Can narcissism be cured?

There is no cure for NPD, but there are some therapeutic methods which can reduce the symptoms and rewire the brain.

That’s the good news. [Read: How to date a narcissist and teach them to change for the better]

The bad news is that there are very few narcissists who actually believe there is anything wrong with them. They assume there is something wrong with you instead. That means they are unlikely to seek the help they need.

To successfully treat NPD, the first step must come from the narcissist themselves. They should ask for help and freely admit there is a problem. From there, time and effort needs to be invested in methods to change their thoughts and behaviors. It’s not an easy road, and it takes a long time to get to the point where any progress is made.

This whole picture makes it very unlikely that someone with NPD will ever be truly “cured.” [Read: How to hurt a narcissist – 11 subtle counterblows to hurt them hard]

So, what about your relationship?

I’ve talked a lot about narcissism and what causes it, but what about your relationship? Is there a future?

Because we don’t really know what causes narcissism, it’s hard to pinpoint a way to manage the problem. And most narcissists don’t actually believe there’s anything wrong with them. It paints a pretty poor picture for your future.

A relationship with a narcissist means never really knowing which side of your partner you’ll see. It could be the charming side, or it could be the manipulative nasty side. After you’ve been privy to their manipulative tactics, you’ll doubt your own thoughts, and find yourself isolated from those you care about. [Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

You might think I’m showing you the worst case scenario, but it’s actually the most common scenario.

A relationship with a narcissist is painful, and unless you want to remain in pain, there will come a point where you should walk away.

Sadly, I’m qualified to advise you on this because I was in the same situation. Okay, your partner isn’t a bad person at their core and they have a personality disorder which explains their problem, but that doesn’t mean you must live with constant lies, twisted truth, name-calling, manipulation, and gaslighting either. Put your own happiness first.

[Read: The narcissist and the empath – and why they’re a match made in dating hell]

Further studies will tell us what causes narcissism for sure, but for now, we should focus on the effects rather than the cause.

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life.

Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
Follow Nicky on

Don't Miss this!

Loading...

Latest in LovePanky