Infantilizing narcissists

Infantilizing Narcissists: A Closer Look at Enabling Toxic Behavior

Sharing is caring

In the world of narcissism and its effects on relationships and society, a topic often overlooked is the tendency to infantilize narcissists. This approach, albeit well-intentioned at times, inadvertently contributes to the evolution and perpetuation of narcissistic behavior on a global scale.

In this article, we will explore the consequences of infantilizing narcissists and how it can unintentionally empower them to continue their toxic patterns. To navigate this delicate issue, we’ll delve into specific examples, such as the insistence that all narcissists have experienced trauma or the denial of the damage they cause.

Understanding Narcissism

A fine line separates narcissism from psychopathy, and the main similarity between the two is the lack of remorse or guilt.

Old Freudian beliefs initially thought narcissists were full of self-loathing and cripplingly low self-esteem and shame. We are now starting to understand that this is not true because narcissists believe they are superior to others and that their desires and needs should always come first.

While it’s important to note that not all individuals with high self-confidence are narcissists, this condition is recognizable when their behaviors become pathological, leading to pervasive patterns of dysfunctional behavior that harm other people.

Through various brain scans, narcissistic individuals show similar brain abnormalities to those of psychopaths. The areas of their brain responsible for empathy have reduced gray matter in certain areas, including the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making, impulse control, and social behavior.

This is why a narcissist is known to be highly critical and even dismissive of other people’s emotions, including their own family or children.  Narcissists cannot feel sorry for anyone; their brains won’t allow them to.

The Danger of Infantilization

Infantilizing narcissists essentially involves treating them as if they are incapable of fully understanding or taking responsibility for their actions. It often results from well-meaning attempts to excuse their behavior, such as attributing their actions solely to past trauma or portraying them as victims.

Here are some significant dangers associated with infantilizing narcissists:

  1. Denying Accountability: When we insist that narcissists are unaware of the damage they cause and are merely products of their past trauma, we inadvertently absolve them of accountability for their actions. This denial hinders their potential for self-awareness and personal growth, although their track history of seeking genuine help isn’t very promising.

  2. Victim Mentality: Excessively emphasizing the trauma experienced by narcissists can lead them to adopt a victim mentality. While it’s crucial to consider their past experiences, it shouldn’t be used to rationalize their harmful behavior. This mindset can perpetuate a cycle where narcissists continue to justify their actions based on their past suffering.

  3. Reinforcing Narcissistic Tendencies: Narcissists thrive on narcissistic supply, which includes admiration, attention, and validation. When we infantilize narcissists by continually providing them with sympathy or praise, we inadvertently reinforce their narcissistic behavior, as they continue to receive the validation they crave.

Examples of Infantilization

To understand the implications of infantilizing narcissists, it’s essential to delve into specific examples that illustrate how these dynamics play out. These examples can help us see how certain behaviors and attitudes can unintentionally contribute to the persistence of narcissism on a global scale.

  1. The “Blame Trauma” Narrative:

One common narrative surrounding narcissism is the idea that all narcissists have experienced significant trauma in their past. While it is true that many people with narcissistic traits may have faced challenging life experiences, it is important to avoid overgeneralizing this assumption.

Some individuals with narcissistic tendencies have indeed suffered traumatic events, but not all trauma survivors develop narcissistic personality traits. Insisting that all narcissists are traumatized can lead to a simplistic view of the disorder and unintentionally contribute to the spread of this belief.

Further, it has long been revealed that not all narcissists experienced trauma in childhood.  In the same way that some people are natural-born psychopaths, the same holds true for those individuals that we deem narcissistic. 

  1. Downplaying Harm to Others:

Infantilizing narcissists often involves downplaying or ignoring the harm they cause to others. This can manifest in various ways, such as minimizing their manipulative actions, justifying their abuse, or rationalizing their deceitful behavior.

For example, when a victim repeatedly excuses a narcissist’s behavior due to their traumatic past, they are indirectly contributing to the cycle of abuse. By not holding the narcissist accountable for their actions, the victim unknowingly enables the continued mistreatment.

  1. The Praise and Sympathy Loop:

Narcissists thrive on praise and sympathy, which provides them with the narcissistic supply they crave. Friends, family members, or even therapists may inadvertently contribute to this cycle by constantly reassuring the narcissist that they are the victim in every situation.

While it is essential to offer support and empathy to individuals who have experienced trauma, overdoing it can enable the narcissistic tendencies of the person and discourage them from seeking help or therapy.

The Role of Enablers

In the context of narcissistic relationships, enablers often play a significant role in perpetuating the narcissist’s behavior. Enablers are individuals who unintentionally support the narcissist’s actions by accommodating or overlooking their harmful behavior. Enablers can include family members, friends, and even therapists who are not adequately trained to handle narcissistic individuals.

One of the ways enablers contribute to the evolution of narcissism on a global scale is by infantilizing the narcissist. They may rationalize the narcissist’s actions by attributing them solely to past trauma, thereby undermining the potential for personal growth and change.

The Influence of Society

Society’s perception of narcissism and its treatment also plays a significant role in whether narcissistic behavior is perpetuated or challenged on a global scale. When society as a whole downplays the severity of narcissistic traits or continually insists on the victim narrative, it can inadvertently contribute to the normalization of such behavior.

In popular culture and media, we often encounter stories of narcissists who undergo dramatic transformations and change for the better. While personal growth is possible for individuals with narcissistic traits, it is crucial to understand that such transformations usually require professional help, self-awareness, and a genuine commitment to change.

heal from abuseConsequences of Infantilizing Narcissists

The consequences of infantilizing narcissists are far-reaching and can negatively impact both individuals and society as a whole. Some of the significant repercussions include:

  1. Perpetuation of Toxic Relationships:

    • In romantic relationships, infantilizing a narcissistic partner can lead to a continuous cycle of abuse and manipulation.
    • Victims may feel trapped and unable to escape the toxic relationship due to the persistent belief that the narcissist is incapable of change.
  2. Lack of Accountability:

    • When narcissists are infantilized, they are less likely to feel accountable for their harmful actions or take responsibility for them.
    • This lack of accountability can result in their targets developing Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and losing everything that means anything to them.
  3. Normalization of Narcissistic Behavior:

    • As society witnesses the constant rationalization of narcissistic actions, it leads to the further normalization of toxic behavior.
    • This normalization can perpetuate narcissism on a global scale, making it more challenging to recognize and address.
    • A common phrase that falls under the normalization of narcissistic behavior is, “Everyone has narcissistic traits or tendencies.”
  4. Reduced Empowerment of Victims:

    • Victims of narcissistic abuse may feel disempowered when the narcissist is infantilized.
    • Their experiences and suffering may be dismissed or minimized, further isolating and harming them.

Perpetuation of Generational Trauma

One of the often overlooked yet profound consequences of infantilizing narcissists is the contribution to generational trauma. Generational trauma refers to the transference of traumatic experiences and their emotional and psychological impacts from one generation to the next.

When we enable narcissistic behavior and fail to hold narcissistic individuals accountable for their actions, we inadvertently perpetuate the cycle of abuse and trauma within families and communities.

Here’s how infantilizing narcissists can contribute to generational trauma:

  1. Role Modeling: Children growing up in households with narcissistic parents who are constantly infantilized may internalize this behavior. They may learn that it is acceptable to avoid responsibility for their actions, manipulate others, and disregard the feelings and needs of those around them. As they become parents themselves, this learned behavior can be passed down to the next generation, creating a cycle of narcissism and enabling.

  2. Normalization of Abuse: When narcissistic behavior is continuously rationalized or excused, it becomes normalized within the family dynamic. Children raised in such environments may struggle to recognize the abusive nature of their family relationships, making them more likely to accept and perpetuate similar behaviors in their own relationships.

  3. Lack of Healing Opportunities: Generational trauma often persists because individuals do not receive the necessary interventions and healing opportunities, especially when children are young and in their developmental years. This lack of intervention can affect their children and future generations.  

  4. Continued Suffering: The consequences of generational trauma are far-reaching and can result in ongoing emotional and psychological suffering for individuals within the family. This suffering may manifest as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and difficulty forming healthy relationships, perpetuating the cycle of narcissism and enabling.

It is vital to recognize that breaking the cycle of generational trauma requires acknowledging and addressing the narcissistic behavior within families.

Breaking the Cycle

In summary, breaking the cycle of infantilization and enabling of narcissistic behavior is essential for personal and societal well-being. Infantilizing narcissists and denying their responsibility for their actions indirectly contributes to the perpetuation of narcissism by allowing them to avoid accountability and continue seeking narcissistic supply.

It is crucial to approach narcissistic behavior with a balanced perspective, acknowledging the potential influence of past trauma while also holding these individuals accountable for their actions.  You deserve more than manipulation and emotional abuse. You deserve the freedom to enjoy life and surround yourself with supportive people.

An empowering step for anyone who is learning about narcissism is to go outside the lines of mainstream psychology and look into studies of the Dark Triad, criminology, forensic psychology, and the work of FBI profilers. These areas give a far clearer picture of what modern narcissism is like, as opposed to the unsubstantial descriptors in the DSM.

Here are my recommended healing suggestions.  Set the intention that you are going to do what you can to begin extricating yourself from the nightmare you’re living day in and day out.  If you need to purge the horrific addiction and devastating emotional and spiritual contamination from a narcissist, then consider joining my therapist-approved program, Break Free.  Discover powerful insights into the dynamics of toxic relationships and gain a profound understanding of what might be holding you back 👇🏼

Get Started On The Stages of Emotional Healing 

Join Break Free and heal, reconnect with yourself, and fearlessly detach from the grip of narcissistic control.

Just click the link to join:

👉 Join now with a sliding scale and lifetime access.

Sharing is caring

Leave a Comment:

NICOLE says March 31, 2024

Wow, this article really opened my eyes to something I hadn’t thought much about before. It’s like when we treat narcissists like they’re helpless kids, we’re actually making things worse. We need to realize they’re responsible for their actions and not just blame everything on their past. Thanks for explaining it so clearly!

M says January 26, 2024

Whew! All of this. My mom has done this with her husband (my stepfather) for decades.
I grew up in an extremely toxic, abusive situation with no hope for positive change. My mom would always make excuses for my stepfather by blaming others…he was never responsible for his actions and how he treated people.
We lived in constant fear of him. He created an unsafe environment on a daily basis. And she enabled him to be evil to me and to other people. She never did what was right, although she was in a position to do so.
She always put him first. And the excuses never stopped…his mom was at fault, his daughter was at fault, I was at fault for all his problems.

I am now 40. Therapy hasn’t helped me to heal. Most therapists are not able to work with this type of trauma.
This man came into my life when I was about 13 or 14. The damage that he caused still runs deep.
I have anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem. I have not achieved a lot because he planted seeds of inferiority in me when I was still a child.
Most relationships I’ve had with men have started out well, then turned bad. My marriage of 15 years is failing because I confronted my husband about broken promises, lying and cheating.

When a narcissist is enabled and allowed to continue their destructive behavior, this hurts them as much as it does others.
There is no incentive for them to do the hard work of change and growth. They float through life doing whatever they want, no matter how damaging it is to people in their path.
I think enablers are a huge part of the problem too. They (like my mom) don’t care that the narcissist is harming others, because the enabler might even benefit from that in some way.

My stepfather often complains that his real daughter won’t have anything to do with him. My mom has sympathy…I don’t, because I am aware of his cruelty and I understand why his daughter avoids him, and keeps her distance.
He is an abusive turd who has learned nothing after all this time. Narcissists should not be enabled. They will steal years of precious life from others, they will destroy your health.
Your hopes and dreams…your will to live…they are a cancer to society. When this behavior goes unchecked, it is dangerous to other people.

Joy Linebarger says November 9, 2023

I WAS in an emotional abusive relationship for over 40 years. I divorced after 23 years and returned for another 20 years. I went no contact for 7 years. Presently I live 1/4 mile from my ex and his partner. I just recently finally detached completely and am struggling to find that “new life.” Even my decision to try your free email program is making me fearful. I’ve come this far on my own, but I feel I need more understanding of what I’m going through and praying you and your organization will be of genuine help for me. Thank you for this blessing.

    Donna Andes says November 23, 2023

    This is so much me but I didn’t go back. Took 22 years of my life

Add Your Reply