How does someone become a narcissist, or are they born that way?
It depends, children, especially newborns, demand constant attention but that is a process of survival. Eventually, as they mature, they should learn that they are not the only ones on earth with valid needs. That is where patience, consideration, and other valuable social traits are developed.
In my personal opinion, I see two options a person can take. When there are parents who are extreme narcissists, they will tend to be inattentive to the emotional needs of their child. Those needs might get ignored, ridiculed, shamed, or attacked. In the end the child is hungry for love and attention. Having a love deficit may cause a child to do one of two things:
1) Become an actor in order to get the admiration and attention the child needs. The parents are not safe. They disdain showing neediness and pain. The parents live for appearances. The child is emotionally bleeding and trying to survive because of experiencing emotional neglect. As a result, the child cannot find safety in parents and thus starts to hide to survive. The child experiments with playing false impersonations. They soon find that they can manipulate their parents and others by acting. With this foundation, they embark on the path of wearing all kinds of disguises and masks in order to get anything they want, especially from persons who have love-hunger and seek to please to get it. They become incredibly selfish, unfeeling, and expert manipulators.
2) Another way that extreme narcissists are created is by being brought up super-pampered. Being brought up without negative consequences for being selfish and hurtful creates a social monster. We call them brats, but this is “Brat-Supreme.” These individuals know little of respecting other’s personal boundaries. They believe they are gods… or God. Their Ego knows no bounds in grandiosity.
Do you think narcissism is something of a growing 21st century problem?
Yes, as a result of Baby Boomers/Hippie Generation wanting the best for their children, they have created children who feel entitled and who believe they deserve unreserved success without much difficulty.
What are some everyday traits that might indicate someone is a narcissist? (Constant Facebook updates? Attention seeking?)
Some common traits that tend to show extreme narcissism can be incessant talk about self, exaggerating personal accomplishments, lack of empathy and sensitivity for others, public displays of grandiosity as in the case of social network media constantly displaying body, muscles, sex appeal, constantly talking about “self.”
Another form of narcissism is victimization. If narcissism were a coin, one side would be grandiosity (“I am bigger than you!”), while the other side is victimization (“I am better than you because I suffer more than you do.”). With victimization, a narcissist will insist that you do not know how hard he or she has it in life. This narcissist shames you for not taking care of them or taking up their cause.
There can be narcissists on both sides of a cause or argument. A person can be a totally victimized narcissist about one side of a position or argument as well as the opposite. This can be true in the realms of politics (Conservatives vs. Liberals), morals about life choices (abortion vs. anti-abortion), or as simple as choosing what color to paint a wall. A skilled narcissist uses “suffering” as a device to get attention. Most persons fall for their trap because they have been made to feel insensitive and uncaring otherwise.
How can narcissistic behavior damage relationships (both romantic and platonic)?
Extreme narcissist create untold damage in relationships by using the goodwill and loving sacrifice and dedication of the other person much like a Spider sucks the life-juices from a victim. The Spider ignores the carcass when it offers no more sustenance. Another metaphor is that extreme narcissists are relational vampires. They take your blood until you have none left. They destroy you. They will make you think they “really” care for you when, in reality, they are using you and taking from you. They return very little to your emotional health. Because they are scared to death of you finding out how weak and hurting they are in their inside, they freak out and panic when you get too close. In such cases they disappear or withdraw.
They often do not return calls. In this process they can also make you feel like you are the culprit and a bad person to make you feel guilty and deflect your interest in entering their soul. A narcissist is never wrong… because he is God. You, however, are always wrong, according to the narcissist. As a therapist I have found that many women who have love deficits fall for the traps of narcissists. They have Yo-Yo and Bi-Polar relationships with these men. It is nerve racking. The men use calculated tenderness, expert guilt-tripping and simple abuse to wear down a good woman. In the end, they destroy her, leaving an emotional disaster behind. He then goes on the prey for the next fool, never believing he ever did anything wrong.
How can narcissistic behavior be damaging in the workplace?
Narcissists in the workplace are mostly seen in ego-centric bosses. Behind their backs, the employees call them “?ss-holes.” They are hated and employees do the minimum to please them. If an employee is more gifted than the boss, he must be careful. Narcissistic bosses feel threatened by persons who are better than they are and who can steal the glory from them. Extreme narcissists are extremely insecure. As long as an employee can make the narcissistic boss look good then they are “needed” and an indispensable part of the team… his team. The moment a narcissistic boss feels threatened or has taken all credit from an employee then that employee is dispensable. He is done with that person and so he tosses them into the trash heap of human debris.
What should you do if you want to help a narcissistic friend snap out of it?
It is questionable whether a true narcissist can really have a friend, unless that friend is an appendage or subservient person to the narcissist. Having an extreme narcissist as a “friend” is a dangerous relational sign. It says that the “friend” is weak and gets used. Can the “friend” help the narcissist to snap out of it? Not really. It is recommended to run for the hills and make friends with those who really care. Avoid narcissists. Narcissists die alone and miserable. Don’t’ let them take you with them.
What can you do if you’re in a romantic relationship with a narcissist and you’re frustrated?
Leave them. Narcissists are extremely toxic to your health. They will destroy you in time and leave a human wreckage behind. Your heart will get ripped out of you and fed to the pigs. Understand that an extreme narcissist is a severely sick person. Avoid at all costs.
Can narcissism be “cured”?
Maybe. It depends on the skills of the clinician. Most behavioral clinicians have difficulty knowing how to work with one. For an extreme narcissist to be “cured” he must want to heal and be willing to admit he is unhealthy. For most extreme narcissists, that is simply asking too much. For an extreme narcissist to want to change there must be a gigantic and earth-shattering series of events in their lives to break them of their grandiosity, extreme selfishness, entitlement, and self-righteousness.
Should an extreme narcissist be willing to be helped, the clinician must be skilled enough to find the wounds of his inner soul, help heal them, and replace them with healthy self-images and patterns for relational dynamics. The only kind of extreme narcissist that can be cured is a broken one.