When we are struggling with grandiose, ruthless, self-entitled narcissists in our personal and professional lives, we ask ourselves: “How did this person develop into such a self-absorbed, unempathic, deceitful individual?" The answer is not in the stars or the genetics as far as we presently know. The personality of the narcissist develops very early in childhood as a result of his (her) interactions with mother, father or both parents. In many instances the future narcissist is chosen for special talents, intellectual brilliance, physical attractiveness, athletic prowess, or a combination of gifts to become the favored child in the family. The budding narcissist is placed in the role of the chosen one who will fulfill the yearnings and dreams of the parents. Raising a perfect son or daughter will make up for their feelings of inadequacy. A message that the parent communicates to this child is: “You are perfect; you have no limits; you can do no wrong. " This child grows up to believe that he is superior to others. The parent does not teach this child to be sensitive to the feelings of others. All that matters is succeeding, destroying your competitors and reaching the very top of the mountain. The future narcissist develops a grandiose false self. Believing that he is perfect and superior and more entitled, the narcissist leads his life manipulating others, convincing them of his superiority and greatness. Despite his success in the world and the appearance of independence, the narcissist remains psychologically frozen in early childhood. On an unconscious level he is still attached to parental adoration and expectations.
In normal development, a child is loved and nurtured as a unique individual. In the beginning he is psychologically fused with the mother or main caretaker. In this union, his physical and emotional needs are taken care of with loving consistency. As the child matures he begins to differentiate himself from the mothering figure and become more independent. With the guidance and love of the parents, the child learns that he is cherished for himself. At the same time the parents teach their child through example and directly that he is not the center of the universe. At a very young age, children learn to be empathic to the concerns and feelings of others. The emotionally healthy child is spontaneous and joyful. Slowly, he separates from his mother and father and becomes an individual capable of both giving and receiving love.
The narcissist uses his grandiose false self to fuel his no limits attitudes and behaviors. Everyone is at his disposal and must bend to his will. He learns very early how to manipulate and exploit others to fulfill his wishes and desires. Narcissists have grand visions. Since they don't care about the feelings of others and have very little conscience, they are unrestricted in the pursuit of their goals.
Society today rewards narcissists handsomely. If they are high-level narcissists with charm and magnetism, intellect and drive, they often move up to the heady circles of power in business, politics, entertainment, medicine and other professions. Beneath all the success and the material trappings, the narcissist harbors feelings of emptiness. He must continually seek narcissistic supplies -adulation, praise, a charmed circle of admirers-to fill the void. This psychological hole within him cannot be healed (except in rare instances if he seeks professional help). The narcissist is incapable of empathy or intimacy. Surrounded by adoring followers, he is always psychologically alone.
Linda Martinez-Lewi holds a Ph. D.in clinical psychology and is a licensed marriage family therapist. She has extensive clinical training in narcissistic and borderline disorders. Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi is the author of the book “Freeing Yourself From the Narcissist in Your Life. "
Dr. Martinez-Lewi has worked for many years with patients experiencing psychological problems as a result of personal and professional relationships with narcissistic personality disorders. She has clinical experience treating patients suffering from childhood trauma, anxiety disorders, and depression.
Dr. Martinez-Lewi has been interviewed on numerous radio talk shows throughout the country.
Visit her website at:http://www.thenarcissistinyourlife.com