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Growing Up to Be a Narcissist Starts Very Early

Linda Martinez-Lewi Ph.D.

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Th path to becoming a narcissist begins in childhood. The exact bends in the road that create a particular narcissist are unique to each family. Early on, either one or both parents selects a child for his special attributes: beauty, handsomeness, intelligence, athletic ability or a combination of these factors, to become the very special son or daughter. Sometimes, more than one child is chosen. Most of this is an unconscious process on the part of the parents. Often they are making up for their own feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness or they might be narcissistic themselves. The parent fixates on this child, repeatedly communicating that he is perfect, superior, and unique. Very early the narcissistic child learns that the feelings and problems of others do not matter. All that counts is succeeding. It doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you win. The brilliant psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott explains: “The inadequate mother (and or father) insists that he (the child) echo her responses rather than his own. . . As a result, he is incapable of expressing genuine emotions, especially those that demonstrate the slightest hint of warm or vulnerability. " Winnicott calls the result of this parental inadequacy the creation of a false self.

The relationship between the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his mother Anna are a dynamic example of the creation of a super narcissist. Before he was born Anna knew that her child would become a great builder, an architect. When he was very young Anna treated her son like a prince. She always communicated to him that he was brighter, more talented, and better than any else. When Frank was cruel to his playmates, Anna always made excuses for him. Anna believed her son was perfect. Why should he have limits when he was far superior to others. Mother and son were psychologically fused with one another for most of their lives. At the end, there was estrangement. But the psychological damage was already done. Indeed, Frank Lloyd Wright was a great architect but as a human being he was a ruthless narcissist who never let the feelings or suffering of others get in his way.

The narcissist, despite his (or her) tremendous success in the world, can neither give nor receive love. He cannot empathize with the pain and suffering of others. Although he is often incredibly charming and draws many people into his enchanted circle, the narcissist is incapable of true intimacy. At the core of his life experience, the narcissist has emotionally and often financially harmed so many. He has treated others with cruelty, ruthlessness and indifference too many times. Ultimately, in the depth of his unconscious, he knows he is an empty fraud.

Linda Martinez-Lewi holds a Ph. 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


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