The following is an update of my Medical Minute on raising children to be narcissists. Photos in this post are shown for illustrative purposes only.

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We have all done this: a friend shows us a photo of her child, and our initial response is to praise the child’s looks (“She’s so cute!”). Cultures that are obsessed with beauty breeds narcissism. As a result, most narcissists tend to be very good looking.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is a mental disorder characterized by egotistical admiration of one’s idealized self image and attributes; a preoccupation with self. A narcissist puts her own aspirations, needs, success, and personal preferences above others. A small amount of narcissism is healthy. But the extreme narcissist is totally absorbed in herself.

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Narcissists tend to look younger than their stated age. The narcissist suffered a major attachment trauma at some point in her childhood. Her mother may have been an airline stewardess, but the narcissist perceived her mother’s many absences as an act of abandonment.

The narcissist remains emotionally stuck at that age when the psychological trauma of her separation/attachment anxiety occurred.

As a result of her emotional trauma, she retreats inside herself and builds a barrier to guard herself from further injury. All people are harmful and can’t be trusted.

The protective barrier becomes her new sense of self; a false identity that she presents to the world to mask her insecurities. Her new identity is not the true person inside.

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Her false identity may be attractive, self-assured and confident on the outside, but look a little deeper and you will see a bitter, hurt individual. She appears to care about people when, in fact, she only cares about herself. People are things to be used. She is the center of her own universe.

Because she has a false identity she is constantly checking herself in mirrors or taking dozens or hundreds of Selfies a day. There are many mirrors and pictures of herself throughout her house.

She may even hire a professional photographer to follow her around and take hundreds of photos of her.

Studies show that we are living in an increasingly narcissistic society. The sharp rise in narcissism in today’s society is directly linked to social media.

New studies show that millennials are more likely to value money, image and fame over community, affiliation and self-acceptance.

Instagram is a narcissist’s playground where self-obsessed users upload hundreds of photos of themselves for ‘likes’ to validate their feelings of self-importance.

In a blog on, 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.

Signs & Symptoms of Narcissism

  • Trouble maintaining longterm relationships
  • Sensitive, feelings easily hurt
  • Demanding only “the best” of everything (brand divas)
  • Reacting to criticism with anger (narcissistic rage), shame, or humiliation
  • Taking advantage of others for their own self gain
  • Verbally or mentally abusing others
  • Exaggerating one’s own importance, achievements, and talents
  • Unrealistic fantasies of love (Erotomania), success, beauty, power, or intelligence
  • Only pursue relationships with celebrities or other important figures
  • Need constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
  • False feeling of entitlement
  • Punishing others with the silent treatment or cutting them off
  • Lacking empathy and disregard for the feelings of others
  • Obsessed with their own self image
  • Easily bored
  • Constantly looking at her reflection in a mirror
  • Taking dozens of selfies per day


Psychologists urge parents to refrain from excessively praising their child’s beauty. Also, limiting children’s access to social media.

Avoid excessive praising of their looks. And ask your friends to avoid praising your child’s looks.

Excessively praising a child’s gifts or talents can also lead to narcissism (think narcissistic celebrities).

Remember that children are concrete in their thinking. 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.

In order for a child to develop a realistic self-view, she must receive approval from her environment in balanced and healthy doses.

Remember that all babies are born narcissistic. But through social interaction with other children (such as in day care or kindergarten), they learn that the world does not revolve around them.

Children who receive too much praise/attention will develop an unrealistic self-view.

The following factors can lead to narcissism:

  • Oversensitive temperament at birth
  • Excessive admiration of a child that is never balanced with realistic feedback
  • Excessive praise for good behaviors or excessive criticism for bad behaviors in childhood
  • Overindulgence and overvaluation by parents, other family members, or peers
  • Excessive praise for perceived exceptional beauty or talent
  • Emotional or physical abuse in childhood
  • Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents
  • Valued by parents as a means to regulate their own self-esteem
  • Living vicariously through your children



It is unusual for narcissists to seek treatment. When they do, it is because they suffered a narcissistic 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

Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Children | WebMD

Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Children | Voices

Preparing the School for Your Child with Narcissistic Personality Disorder |

Narcissistic Personality Disorder | Wikipedia

Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following information found on this blog.

Photos by James Devaney/GC Images | Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images | Rushay Booysen / EyeEm/Getty Images |