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What Is the Connection between Narcissism and Abuse?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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The connection between narcissism and abuse is complex and is a feature in many different types of human relationships. Some experts believe that narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic traits develop in those who were abused as children. Others have noticed that narcissistic individuals often abuse others in a variety of contexts, including familial and intimate relationships as well as in professional and social settings. Victims often find the process of recovering from narcissism abuse to be challenging and may need professional help in doing so.

Narcissism is often defined as inappropriate self-love. A person who is narcissistic may have a highly inflated sense of his or her own importance, potential, and abilities. Very often, these individuals fail to take into consideration the wants and needs of the people around them. While a narcissist can use his self-centeredness to his advantage in achieving personal and life goals, he may also experience frustration when those around him, particularly those in a position of power, don't share his high opinion of himself. In addition, a narcissist may thoroughly alienate people in his social network, which can hinder his ability to succeed professionally and personally.

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The origins of narcissistic personality disorder and narcissism in people are not entirely clear. Some mental health experts believe that narcissism may be the result of living with abusive or neglectful parents. A person who suffers from narcissism may have developed the condition as a defense mechanism as a result of not having his or her emotional or other needs met as a child. Narcissists may have failed to develop empathy for others because their caregivers did not demonstrate empathy toward them, or they may feel the need to exaggerate their importance because they did not feel that they were important to others in their formative years. In such cases, the relationship between narcissism and abuse is that abusive, neglectful behavior in childhood can be a cause of narcissism.

Many people have noted the connection between narcissism and abuse in families or relationships in which at least one party suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. Individuals who are narcissistic may become frustrated and angry with their own children, spouses, or intimate partners when these others fail to provide the admiration or support that the narcissist wants. As the narcissist does not acknowledge that others have their own needs or feelings that are worthy of consideration, the narcissist may lash out in an abusive way toward those closest to him or her.

Individuals who observe a pattern of narcissism and abuse in their relationships can sometimes benefit from supportive treatment via psychotherapy. While narcissists often don’t seek treatment because they do not recognize that they have a problem, a crisis may cause the narcissist to seek help for his or her condition. Similarly, family members and partners of narcissists may also be able to learn good ways of managing or ending their relationship with a narcissist by working with a mental health professional.

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Rotergirl
Post 2

Control is such a big issue for most narcissists, which is why so many are abusers. They get a charge out of making sure other people do what they want them to do, even if the act is humiliating or degrading. Actually, the more humiliating, the better, since it makes the narcissist look better by comparison.

I've met people who have been in this situation, and they really are pitiful. So many have such a difficult time getting out of an abusive situation anyway, and when the abuser is a narcissist, it seems to make leaving even tougher. These people play horrible mind games on their victims. It's just sad.

Pippinwhite
Post 1

Narcissists frequently abuse others because they simply don't care about the other person's feelings. That's completely immaterial to them. They have no basis for empathy for others because their own needs take complete precedence over everything else.

The trouble with narcissists is that counseling rarely does much to help them. Short of some kind of miraculous breakthrough, a person with this mental disorder will never come to the point where they understand something is wrong with them -- or something that needs to be fixed, at any rate.

Basically, the kind of abuse counseling that's most effective in cases like this is focused on helping the abuse victim get out rather than helping the abuser.

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