How Do Children Become Narcissists?

Scenario 2: The Devaluing Narcissistic Parent

In this scenario there is a very domineering and devaluing parent who is always putting down the child. The parent is generally irritable, easily angered, and has unrealistically high expectations.

If there are two or more children, the parent will praise one and devalue the others. The “good one” can quickly become the “bad one” and suddenly a different sibling is elevated. Nobody in the family feels secure and everyone spends their time trying to pacify the explosive Narcissistic parent.

The other parent is often treated exactly like the children and belittled as well. When he or she disagrees with the Narcissistic parent, they too are devalued.

Children who grow up in these households feel angry, humiliated, and inadequate. They are likely to react to their childhood situation in a few different ways.

The Defeated Child: Some of these children simply give up and accept defeat.  In their teenage years, after decades of being told that they are worthless, they may spiral down into a self-hating shame-based depression.  Then to escape their inner shame, they may try to lose themselves in impulsive, addictive behaviors. Some become alcoholics and drug addicts, others spend their days on the internet.  They never achieve their potential because they have been convinced that they have none.

The Rebellious Child: These children overtly reject their parents’ message that they are “losers.” Instead, they spend their life try to prove to themselves, the world, and the devaluing parent that they are special and their parents were wrong. They pursue achievement in every way that they can. Proving they are special becomes a lifelong mission, while underneath there is always a harsh inner voice criticizing their every mistake—no matter how minor.

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