It’s theorized that some narcissistic personality traits, as well as the use of the silent treatment, are learned behaviors. If a child’s emotional needs are not being met, or if clear boundaries are not established, he or she may develop narcissistic personality traits as a response. Children may also observe others using the silent treatment and copy it as a way to punish others or get them to comply with the child’s wants. While these two things may be learned and displayed separately, often those children who learn narcissistic traits will also learn to use the silent treatment.
The silent treatment is issued to hide vulnerabilities and awareness of who the narcissist really is. By completely ignoring their partner, the abuser does not have to deal with any outstanding issues; this is a very unhealthy way to cope with problems in a relationship.