The Pathology of a Narcissist
There are no excuses for abuse, though it might be helpful for you to understand some of the reasons why someone might become an abuser.
Your character was shaped by the experiences you went through, the support or lack of support you received, and the duration of those experiences. You made choices out of survival to deal with the challenges that were present in your life, and those choices decided your direction and outlook on life, and in many ways shaped your character.
Your characteristics aren’t set in stone, but patterns set in motion early in life do seem to be hardwired and can take considerable time to loosen up, rewire, and to disidentify from.
At the time of the abuse, the choices you made were more necessities than conscious decisions; nonetheless, they influenced your direction in life.
For example, if you grow up with a verbally and physically abusive mom or dad and your way of dealing with this was to avoid conflict (flight) and anticipate your parent’s moods (please) in order to keep the peace, that will contribute to an overall lack of boundaries, suppressed anger, and likely a continuance of seeking approval from others into adult life, as long as those patterns and the trauma related to your past have not been worked through.
The patterns that a narcissist falls into are a very different category from those described above, though trauma is still the main ingredient.
PTSD Narcissism in Society
There are many ways of looking at narcissism from both a personal point of view– of what the individual went through– and from a collective point of view– of what is transpiring in society on the whole.
Unfortunately, narcissism at large seems to be widely promoted and encouraged. The values of society are to look up to those who are successful, ambitious, and can dominate others. Regardless of our reasoning, our animal instincts of the alpha male or alpha female still prevail.
What this profoundly ingrained and biologically hardwired mindset does is that it encourages narcissism, conflict, being selfish, and having disregard for others.
What might start out as a mild form of narcissism in an individual can grow out of proportion in an environment which nurtures it, such as the many corporations, academic environments, and team sports cultures that have a dog-eat-dog mentality.
If a faulty pattern goes unchecked and even gets applauded, the self-righteousness and sense of accomplishment of a narcissistic individual is further enhanced.
The Pathology of and Dealing with a Narcissist
This brings us to the driving force of a narcissist.
Regardless of whether the trauma was neglect or abuse, whether it was mild or severe, a narcissist can be born. The main driving force of narcissists is feeling inadequate, incompetent, and not worthy, and their sole occupation in life is to prove to themselves and others that they are worthy, adequate and competent.
This strive and ambition are what often makes narcissists very clever, elusive, and accomplished people who are always on the lookout to gain dominance, control, and a sense of achievement, regardless of whether they hurt others in the process. As long as they can hold onto their sense of being special, competent, and in control, their self-indulgent narcissism can thereby continue to cover up their wound– their initial self-image of lack of confidence, inadequacy, and incompetence.
It is not hard to imagine how narcissists can become psychopaths in positions of power given that they are rewarded by society through prestige, power, and money.
In the end, though, behind all the facade, narcissists are like clever little children who refuse to grow up.