We have all done this: we are shown a photo of a friend’s child, and our initial response is based on the child’s looks (“She’s so cute! I can see where she gets her beauty from!”)
We tend to especially favor children who are light skinned with long hair. Any culture that is obsessed with beauty and image breeds narcissism. As a result, most narcissists tend to be very good looking.
Narcissism in adults is a personality disorder that stems from abnormal self-developmental in childhood.
Studies show that the sharp rise in narcissists in today’s society is directly linked to the explosion in social media. Instagram is a narcissist’s playground where the self-obsessed upload their photos to encourage ‘likes’. And there are pages on Facebook devoted to ranking a girl’s beauty from 1-10.
In a blog on Huffingtonpost.com, sports psychology consultant Nicole Forester referred to social media as an “Epidemic of narcissism”.
“We are each hard-wired with the desire to feel relevant. Everyone wants to feel like they matter and are important. Social media provides this outlet, but also promotes being self-absorbed,” she writes.
The symptoms of narcissism are:
In addition to these symptoms, narcissists may also display dominance, arrogance, show superiority, and seek power or wealth.
There is ongoing research to find ways to prevent the alarming rise in narcissism. Psychologists urge parents to refrain from excessively praising their child’s looks or behavior. Also, limiting a child’s access to social media is beneficial.
Watch what you say to small children. For example, avoid telling a little girl that her beauty will cause boys to fall at her feet; or telling a handsome boy that he will grow up to be a lady killer.
Remember that children are concrete in their thinking. They don’t have the maturity level to process that type of language yet.
Excessive praise is not just limited to looks; excessively praising a child’s gifts or talents can lead to narcissism as well (think narcissistic celebrities).
Children typically have a difficult time distinguishing between their actual self (who they actually are) and their ideal self (who they think they are). This causes an unrealistic view of themselves. Children who grow up to be narcissists have fractured personalities (unrealistic perception of actual self and ideal self). They are like broken mirrors. We can put the pieces back together again, but the mirror will never be whole.
Children develop an unrealistic self-view when they receive too much attention or not enough attention from their immediate environment (parents, caretakers, or peers).
In order for a child to develop a realistic self-view, he or she must receive approval from their environment in balanced and healthy doses.
Remember that all babies are born narcissistic. But through social interaction with others they learn that they are not an island onto themselves and that the world does not revolve around them.
Children who receive too much praise/attention will develop an unrealistic self-perception, and children who don’t will compensate for that lack of attention.
Any types of activities that focus on overly praising children can raise narcissistic levels.
The causes of narcissism are not fully understood, but the following factors can lead to narcissism:
It is unusual for narcissists to seek treatment. When they do, it is probably caused by a narcissist injury (loss of a relationship or employment) that leaves them feeling depressed or anxious. Treatment can be very difficult because narcissists often see themselves as more intelligent or knowledgeable than doctors. Treatment can include therapeutic approaches (anger management, cognitive, behavioral etc. MEdication is also prescribed for depression, anxiety, etc.
This has been your Medical Minute.
More info on the web
Prognosis is Gloomy for Children with Personality-Disordered Parents – Psychology Today
Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Wikipedia