root cause of narcissism

Unveiling the Startling Roots of Narcissism

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When people think of narcissists, they often assume that all of them experienced some form of trauma during childhood. This assumption is made because it is believed that the root cause of narcissism is unresolved trauma and an attempt to cope with it. However, this is not always the case.

Not all narcissists experienced trauma in childhood, and many develop narcissistic traits without any history of trauma.  This is why researching the root cause of narcissism can be one of the biggest rabbit holes that you go down during your time in a toxic relationship or in your recovery.

In this article, I explain how not all narcissism originates from childhood trauma, how this theory is keeping us stuck in cognitive dissonance, and how all the different labels for types of narcissism being created every day are helping narcissism evolve.  

Let’s dive in.

Not All Narcissists Develop Their Narcissism as a Defense Mechanism

Not all narcissistic individuals are that way due to childhood trauma or deep-rooted shame. Many narcissists develop their narcissistic traits without any traumatic experience and share the same exaggerated sense of self, grandiosity, and entitlement as others of their kind. Not to mention that some developed their narcissism because they were overly coddled when they were children. They didn’t have any accountability for treating people badly, nor consequences for how they treated people.

But more than that, we are now learning that narcissism can have a genetic component, meaning that even the most loving childhood environment won’t necessarily stop them from becoming a narcissistic abuser.

To understand how not all narcissists experienced trauma in childhood, it is important to understand what narcissism is. Narcissism is a character disorder that is characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, grandiosity, entitlement, and a need for admiration from others. People who possess narcissistic traits typically engage in manipulative or exploitative behavior, have little to no empathy, and display a lack of concern for the feelings of others.

The idea that narcissistic behavior is an attempt to cope with the pain and confusion of unresolved trauma in childhood is simply not true for all narcissists.

What if the narcissist you know was born that way due to a genetic predisposition?  All those months and years that you have wasted believing they’re that way because of trauma, but then it turns out it was all genetic? So then, all those months and years of research that you’ve completed don’t even apply to the person you’re dealing with.

If you really want accurate insider information on the root cause of narcissism, you don’t want to put all of your focus on the field of mainstream psychology and the DSM. Look into the work of FBI profilers, criminology, forensic psychology, and the Dark Triad. Because all of the information. the misinformation, and even the disinformation that we are seeing online regarding the root cause of narcissism are the biggest causes of cognitive dissonance. 

Exploring Outdated Causality of Narcissism

Most of what you read about the root cause of narcissism is based on outdated Freudian concepts, and a lot of this outdated causality of narcissism is what is going wrong in our world today. There are too many people publishing information with no scientific backing, and there are far too many labels being created to categorize different types of narcissistic abusers.

Even worse, there are too many people insisting that all narcissists are that way due to trauma.

Psychology in and of itself is not science-based, and it’s completely subjective. Sure, we have the DSM, and that was a good foundation, but the DSM does not allow for other reasons for people presenting as narcissistic or whatever their case may be. This is why one person can go to three different therapists and leave those offices with three different diagnoses.

Narcissism has been around for centuries, but recent research into the disorder has revealed that the outdated reasons for narcissism are no longer applicable. For many years, narcissism was seen as a character flaw, with those who exhibited narcissistic traits being seen as vain, selfish, and overly ambitious. This view of narcissism has been debunked in recent years, with research revealing that narcissistic behavior is often the result of a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

One outdated reason for narcissism is that it is caused by a need for attention and admiration. While narcissistic individuals may seek attention and admiration, recent research has found that this is only one small part of the disorder. Instead, narcissism is seen as a combination of personality traits, such as grandiosity, entitlement, and a lack of empathy. These traits are thought to be caused by a mix of environmental and genetic influences, rather than simply a need for attention.

The Inherent Flaws in Mainstream Psychology and the DSM

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the primary diagnostic tool used to classify mental health disorders in the United States. Despite its widespread use, the DSM has come under fire for a number of inherent flaws.

First, the DSM is largely based on subjective criteria, and diagnosis is often made based on the impressions of mental health professionals rather than on objective evidence. This makes it difficult to ensure that diagnoses are accurate and reliable. Furthermore, the DSM does not take into account the potential for cultural, racial, or gender bias in diagnosis. This means that certain groups of people may be more likely to receive a DSM diagnosis than others, leading to disparities in access to treatment.

Finally, the DSM does not provide an adequate framework for evaluating the effectiveness of treatments. It does not account for individual differences in how people experience and respond to treatments, nor does it provide guidance for how to adjust treatments for different patient populations. Consequently, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of mental health treatments in a meaningful way.

Overall, the DSM has significant limitations that must be acknowledged in order to ensure accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of mental health disorders.

Inventing New Labels and Categories of Narcissism Takes Our Focus Away From What’s Important

The concept of narcissism is complex, and there are many facets to it that can be explored. Nevertheless, most experts agree that there are only three distinct types of narcissism. This is because the three types represent the core characteristics of narcissism, and all of the other possible variations of narcissism can be seen as a combination of those three types, or as an extreme version of one of the three.

The three types of narcissism are grandiose, vulnerable, and malignant. Grandiose narcissism is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for constant admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Vulnerable narcissism is characterized by feelings of inadequacy, a need for excessive attention and affirmation, and a tendency to be overly sensitive to criticism. Finally, malignant narcissism is characterized by a lack of empathy and a desire to manipulate and control others.

These three types of narcissism are the fundamental building blocks of narcissism and encompass all of the different possible expressions of narcissism; the other variations are simply derivatives of the three core types.

Infantilizing Narcissists Helps Narcissism Evolve Right Under Our Noses

The concept of infantilizing narcissists is one that has been gaining traction in recent years, particularly due to the rise of social media. The idea is that instead of seeing narcissistic behavior as a sign of dangerous abuse, we instead focus on the positive characteristics of the narcissist, such as their charm and charisma, and gloss over the more problematic aspects of their behavior. This can lead to a tendency to excuse their more extreme behaviors, such as manipulation and exploitation, as simply being a result of a “narcissistic” personality.

Unfortunately, this tendency to infantilize narcissists can have serious consequences, as it can lead to a failure to address the underlying issues that are causing narcissistic behavior. For example, if a narcissist is allowed to get away with their manipulative and exploitative behaviors, then they can become further entrenched in their patterns of abuse, making it more difficult to address the root cause of narcissism. Additionally, infantilizing narcissists can lead to victims of abuse feeling invalidated and unheard, as their stories are seen as being exaggerated and overblown.

The best way to address the issue of infantilizing narcissists is to recognize the impact that their behavior can have, and to acknowledge and validate the experiences of victims instead.


None of the approaches that we’ve been taught to use with narcissists, even if they’re recommended by PhDs, are working. They’re making things worse for us as a society because we are not dealing with abusers the way they should be dealt with.

It’s okay to feel sympathy for them, but the focus should be on you and your own survival, even if that is your emotional and psychological survival. I’ve seen too many lives wasted giving one’s all to a narcissistic individual. 

If you know you need to purge the horrific addiction and devastating emotional and spiritual contamination from a narcissist, then consider The Break Free Program.  Healing is a process that can open up some truly transformative revelations and opportunities when we give ourselves the chance to recover and thrive. 

Please know that as crippling as it feels to finally break free from abuse, there is an end to it.  The body and mind know how to heal themselves when we create the conditions for them to do so.  Students of The Break Free Program write in to tell me all the time how their lives have been changed incredibly by following the steps laid out for them.  I am always humbled and grateful when I hear success stories from those who thought their lives were over.  

This can be possible for you, too.  And it’s my deepest wish that you begin healing and living the life you deserve.  

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Peggy Dietz says August 4, 2023

Thank you for confirming what I too have finally pieced together after over the last 10 yrs of much research and what I have lived with and through since marrying in 1974. It was not until I was in hospital from a burnout in 2012 and met a psychiatrist that also met my husband and identified him as narcissistic and told me to start my research . NPD was not in DSM until 2014 and that was the year I ask my husband to leave after his discard and 40 yr marriage . Well it is now 2023 and I’m on my 10th lawyer who is not listening to me and in the last 3 -4 yrs I’m aware that my sons are also . One son is grandiose , one vulnerable and father / husband malignant . I know it is generational sin and they are 4th generation. I’m so grateful to have a therapist and psychiatrist both of faith and aware of this character disorder as Dr George Simon writes of in his book , In Sheeps Clothing . Right now I’m so frustrated with the lack of knowledge in all medical arenas of this destructive mass making up our culture at this very time . But it’s also warned us in the Bible in many scriptures of this in the later days . So beware and keep your eyes on Jesus . 🙏🇨🇦❤️ Continue to seek His guidance and wisdom for healing that’s begun a new work within you my friend .

Elaine says April 29, 2023

Thank you more than I can express! I took it for 47 years and was abused as a child for years in my background at home. Now working hard to heal.

Gabriela says March 21, 2023

My daughter clearly inherited the desorder from her father.He was an overt narcissist,she’s a malignant one. I have been married to him for only three years in my young age,and then n-o one knew about narcissism. After three long years of torture and abuse I said to myself: But I know I’m a good person!and planned my escape.
I had my job secured at the other end of the country,out of his reach,and I left. At the divorce he demanded in court that our daughter remained in my custody and he had to pay a pension for many,many years. He remarried very quickly, but I didn’t care. I had a new,busy and exciting life to live. After about 10 years he divorced his second wife too and married a third one. And all these could repete over and over again , but he died at 46 , killed by the alcohol.
I did know nothing about my daughter’s desorder. But at the age of 16 or 17 she began to behave srtangely. She couldn’t keep any female friendship and she wasn’t able to explane why. And a little later she began to eat enormously, whithout a thought for leaving a little food for the other members of the family. But she was very charming and the boys was swarming around her. Little did I know at the time that it was a red flag. I was proud of that as a mother.
She married at 22 with a very loving,empathic young man.I knew about the horrific abuse he endured much later because he tried to cover her behavior. Their marrige lasted for 19 years and now he’s finally free.
Thank you,Kim, for this article and for all the other. I only wanted to tell everyone that the narcissist personality desorder may run in the families without traumas during the childhood.

    Jamila says June 3, 2023

    How did you deal with her daughter all these years? How long did she live with you? What do you do when your child is narcissist? It’s sad hard they get from dad genes….

Fahim Chughtai says March 2, 2023

Infantilizing narcissists, or treating them as if they are helpless or incapable, can actually contribute to the development and reinforcement of their narcissistic tendencies. When others consistently cater to their needs and desires, it reinforces the belief that they are entitled to special treatment and attention, which can further fuel their sense of grandiosity and superiority.

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