Well, the experts are not exactly sure and frequently argue the causes between nature and nurture. Some say genetic disposition. Some say abuse, specifically invalidation including neglect and coddling, the same things in actuality that damage children who go on to become abused adults and targets of narcissists.
One thing for sure is that both the narcissists and their targets suffer from deep seated pain and the environmental causes may be the same, however, one child become a narcissistic, a predator, and the other becomes a target, a victim, neurotic. Another fundamental difference is that the neurotic can heal and the narcissist cannot.
Preeminent neuroscientist, Dr. James Fallon reports in “Crime Talk” that we are genetically predisposed to narcissism, empathy and psychopathy. His research discovered that narcissists and psychopaths are genetically predisposed to aggression, violence and lacking compassion and for psychopaths, lacking conscience. The pleasure centers of their brains are also affected so narcissists and psychopaths do not get pleasure like normal folks would get such as from reading a book. What I find very interesting is how Dr. Fallon describes how their “evil genes” are “turned on” by abuse in childhood. Psychopaths and narcissists, however, use the functioning parts of the brain and those that support reasoning and planning to con you and manipulate you. Their brains, according to Dr. Fallon, create a work around in order for them to survive and abuse and con from you what they want and need and they do not care what impact that has on you. Read more in the article, “Can Malignant Narcissism Be Cured?”
So narcissists and other covert aggressors feed off of the vulnerabilities of neurotics because narcissists cannot generate their own energy to feed their false disordered persona that lacks compassion. They cannot self-soothe. They deliberately target and actively prey on ONLY certain people like empaths who they can manipulate long lasting narcissistic supply from. They also can target other narcissists.
How and where did they learn this?
Of course, where all our fears and phobias and emotional pains are rooted: in our families and in our childhood. They learned their manipulative grooming and combat tactics in the same dysfunctional abusive families where the abused children acquired their wounds. A child learns how to become an effective narcissist by practicing on his related victims who are frequently the empaths and “normal ones” they make the family black sheep and scapegoats. They recruit others in the family to participate with them in their evil dealings. The narcissists learn these aggressively manipulative behaviors in the same environment the abused are conditioned to think like victims and become dependent on others for self-worth.
What makes one neurotic and have low self-worth and the other personality disordered? What makes people evil? What makes us empaths? Only God knows.
This I know for sure.
Narcissism runs rampant in my family: aunts, uncles, cousins and so does mental illness. My aunts married narcissists. One aunt committed suicide as a result of indescribable physical and psychological narcissistic abuse that I witnessed until her death. Decades later they still do not acknowledge the epidemic level of family mental illness after two suicides and serious depressions and addictions. So obviously, families are somehow genetically predisposed and provide the environmental conditions to breed narcissists.
I, fortunately, very young was able to see the evilness and depravity and wanted no part in it whatsoever. I was talented, bright, empathetic, ethical and bold and so I openly called them on the depravity and the mental illness. And, of course, the role of the normal ones was to bail the others out when they screwed up in addition to feeding their egos. I provided excellent food and narcissistic supply for the herd of narcissists as did the ones with the most serious mental illnesses who they could scapegoat to their hearts’ content.
There are not many left now back in the “village” and the herd is thin so the narcissists who are left are starving and now make some of the ones they scapegoated their golden children and feed off of each other and lay in wait for someone to die so they can con their money from them. How convenient? Is that love? Is that family? I think the answer is obvious. I refer to it as “narcissistic sodomization.”
You cannot polish a turd, folks, but you can roll it in glitter and you CAN remove yourself from the toxicity and come into your own truth and achieve emotional freedom. Absolutely you can and you deserve to. And as you heal, your children will heal through you!
I am proof of that and it is now my life’s work to help you do the same. We cannot cure narcissists and we cannot solve all the problems in the world but we can make it better one person at a time and I am personally committed to do that.