Am I a narcissist?

People, post NPD abuse often are left with a lingering worry that they themselves be a narcissist as a result of the abuse.

Recently I was asked this question on an SLC facebook post about covert narcissists (original post here)

“Is it common for victims of narcissistic abuse to become covert narcissists themselves? What causes some to develop codepedency/cptsd and others to develop narcissistic traits I wonder?”

Richard Grannon The Spartan Life Coach┬áIf youre sat worrying over your moral conduct and whether you might be a narc its highly unlikely that you are a malignant NPD as they lack the ability to self reflect and really wouldn’t care even if they could.

Abigayle is right, its just a symptom of the abuse you have experienced that makes you doubt yourself and your reality deeply.

Sharon let me tell you why I would put money on you NOT being any kind of narcissist:

I’ve gottn pretty good at picking up narc/bpd communication styles even via fb yt comments and emails and Sharon your comment didn’t ring any alarms for me. Sounds pretty cool, like I can detect a PD just from a short comment because Im a psych genius.
Except that cluster B’s are usually not subtle at all, its the “dramatic” cluster of personality disorders after all.

Let me give you an example of a cluster B writing style asking the same question(based on real world examples of questions people write to me quite frequently) :

“So mr know it all life coach, I guess I might let you tell me whether in your “expert opinion” (lol!) you SURMISE I might have some kind of BS made -up personality disorder from some stupid book seeing as you think you are so smart, and all us people with a disorder are beneath you right? HAHAHA! Some of your work is ok, but actually its pretty boring!!!!!Can I please get some free coaching I think you might find my story particularly interesting though you might find my unique case really hard to understand. LOL! ROFL!”

This would be a BPD/HPD style narc. If there is a tonne of angry swearing and even an implication of violence”help me figure this f***ing sh** out so I dont end up killing a bunch of people with an axe” then I will guess a little ASPD has crept in too.

It really is as upfront as that.

Except in one rare instance:

Now Sharon I assume you dont have a PD because you asked the question in an adult open up front way. You “sound” sane and calm.

There is a cluster B that can sound sane and calm: the, calm covert Narc.

A true, cold, covert narc (whn not in their vulnerability/desperation personality phase) can sound as sane and calm as you did in your question/comment…. but they would NEVER ask for advice or an opinion. Especially in a public forum!

If you were a true cold narc you wouldn’t even post the question here as it would defy your self image as all knowing and put me, a mere mortal, in a position of authority over you. I have had true narcs contact me only 3 times in the last 2 years, never publicly, always anonymously via email, never to ask me a question, always to INFORM ME of something.

They can actually offer really helpful insights too.

No Sharon you are not a narc, but you might have cptsd as a result of being a relationship with one. This cptsd if not treated could develop into some BPD traits from the emotional dysregulation the narc has caused.

As to the co dependency issue: being with a narc doesnt make you a codependent, you were with the narc because you were a codependent in the first place. You can only be a codependent because you were raised in a boundary breaking childhood environment.

To Sharon’s original question… is it common for victims of Narcissism to become Narcissists? No its not,. In adults you might see some of your latent, normal (healthy) Narcissistic traits inflamed: you might have become vainer/more reaction seeking and have picked up some bad habits from the Narc you were with (these will fade with no contact) but its very unlikely you have developed full blown NPD.

Narcissistic abuse can only foster full blown NPD when the relationship is between children and parents.
I’m going to go ahead and say I agree with Freud that NPD is a developmental issue from childhood trauma.
What distinguishes whether a child develops codependency or narc traits themselves is a great question:

I would suggest, (and this is just my own opinion based on anecdotal evidence not peer reviewed research) that its as simple as this: black sheep child = co dependent response to narc abuse, golden child child = narc response to narc abuse.
Futhermore, most Spartanlifecoach subscribers were in childhood black sheep who in adulthood are co-dependent people pleasers. Again, if you are here, reading a long comment, looking for answers, studying and doing your due diligence to understand a mystifying and upsetting experience its really, really very unlikely you are a golden child narc!

This is just not their M.O. Conscientiousness, problem solving, dilligence, seeking for external help/advice: all counter indicators for NPD.

Coming back to Sharons question: I know of no case where an adult became a full blown Narcissist through narc abuse. All cases of NPD in children, as far as I understand it at this point (still learning) come through a boundary breaking parenting style and a swing between outright abuse/abandonment and being over-mollycoddled.

Here is a simple template and you can imagine the variations:
The first born son of a family from a culture that is rigidly phallocentric is treated as a prince-who-can-do-no-wrong whilst the daughter is treated as the emotional trash can of the family unit. The son is mauled with love and attention and even his farts are met with gales of laughter and praise, the daughter is utterly ignored or derided no matter what.

Like Meg in “Family Guy”.

The son is then molested sexually by a borderline psychotic father over a period of years. The father swings between showing too much of a cloying, self indulgent, hyper sentimentalised type of love in which the child is effectively objectified and then switching to deep rage with some physical violence and total abandonment.
The rage is triggered by the fathers guilt for molesting the child, he then loathes his son as an externalised object representing his own shameful behaviour and beats him savagely.

The co-dependent peace keeping mother cannot actually acknowledge the sexual/physical abuse (double bind scenario) but feels terrible crushing guilt for what her son experiences so she dials up her “love” for the son, showering him with gifts, praise etc

The son is now being trained to think: I am special, I am never wrong, I deserve more things in life than others, I am deeply ashamed of myself, I am dirty/”evil”, there is something wrong with me, I deserve pain, its all my fault, I can use other people to make myself feel good and/or I dont know how to make myself feel good (external locus of control – no true narcissist can sit in a room by themselves and quietly read a book) without people, I am desperate, I am invincible, I am golum, I am superman, I need to make myself the centre of attention or I experience deep despair that makes me feel like Im coming apart at the seams.

Im not trying to give you a sob story or tell you to feel sorry for malignant abusive types, but they ARE victims of something in the environment, somewhere that caused a split between their true self and the false self or shell self.

Over time and with practise the true self (where the empathy and vulnerability live) atrophies and withers (thanks to Sam Vaknin for pointing this out ) and the false self (invulnerable, cold, no empathy) grows stronger – that’s why you can sometimes see Narcs get worse over time.

So the story above can have all the genders reversed (a culture where girls not boys are put on a pedestal and a little princess is created rather than a little prince) and/or you can have just the one parent playing devil/guilty angel.

Abuser and rescuer in one.

Its the childs existence in two polar opposite and CONFLICTING (necessary for the double bind) emotional realities “you are a peice of shit/ you are a prince” that causes the break that creates the shell personality that will be narcissistic/ borderline/histrionic/anti social (psychopathic) or a combo of all of the cluster B traits creating a dark tetrad or “zombie witch doctor” type.

Big question, big answer. Thanks for reading that epic.


About The Author

richard grannon

Richard Grannon, is passionate about helping people defend themselves, get back on their feet, and finally free themselves from narcissistic abuse

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