Is Narcissism Genetic?

Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

Can you inherit narcissism? Is it genetically-based? These are questions that have some scientists, geneticists and researchers searching for answers.

The exact cause of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is not known. However, most researchers and mental health professionals believe it results from a combination of factors.

These factors include biological vulnerability, social interactions with early caregivers, and psychological factors that involve temperament.

There are studies that suggest that a gene (or genes) for narcissism can be inherited but that a person also needs the “right” environment for narcissism to be manifested.

There are scant studies that look specifically at whether narcissism is genetic, although many theories as to the cause including trauma or abuse in early childhood, overindulgent parenting, genetic predilection toward NPD and narcissistic parenting.

Can You Inherit Narcissism According to Research?

Researchers can study the genetics of personality through two different means: identical twin studies and examination of the human genome.

Twin studies typically examine identical twins that were separated at birth and raised in different households.

Identical twins share identical genes, and therefore, any similarities in personality traits may be attributed to genetics.

Research has suggested that identical twins raised separately share more personality traits than fraternal twins, who do not have identical genes.

Scientists have begun to correlate the existence of certain gene variations with personality disorders.

According to a study in a 2007 issue of the “International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology“, a specific gene called tryptophan hydroxylase-2 may be implicated in the development of certain personality disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder.

Tryptophan hydroxylase-2 helps regulate the production of serotonin, an important brain chemical involved in mood regulation.

Livesley et al. concluded that, in agreement with other studies, narcissism, as measured by a standardized test, was a common inherited trait.

The study subjects were 175 volunteer twin pairs (ninety identical, eighty-five fraternal) drawn from the general population.

Each twin completed a questionnaire that assessed eighteen characteristics of personality disorder.

The authors estimated the heritability of each characteristic by standard methods, thus providing estimates of the relative contributions of genetic and environmental causation.

Of the eighteen personality characteristics, narcissism was found to have the highest heritability (0.64), indicating that this trait in the identical twins was significantly influenced by genetics.

Of the other seventeen characteristics, only four were found to be statistically significant: callousness, identity problems, oppositionality and social avoidance.

Advances in technology such as brain imaging have proven that the brains of those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD), both of which are in the same cluster of personality disorders as NPD, are not functioning properly.

The activity levels in the brains of those with BPD and APD are abnormal.

Research studies involving the “cluster B” personality disorders have confirmed significant physiological brain dysfunction in two of the four cluster B disorders. Just what has caused the brain to function improperly is not completely understood.

Very little research can be done with NPD, specifically, as most narcissists don’t admit to having any problems and don’t go to a therapist unless forced to by family or work.

Additional research conducted on BPD has detected this personality disorder in the offspring of parents at a rate of roughly 68%.

In other words, approximately two thirds of the children of those diagnosed with BPD have BPD themselves.

A review of the literature suggests narcissism runs in families and that many narcissists have had a narcissistic parent themselves. But once again, does that prove it is genetic or learned behavior?

As scientific research on narcissism and the other cluster B disorders expands and results in better information, it seems that there will be a greater likelihood that genetics may play a role to some degree.


There is considerable speculation and many theories about the causes of narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Some scientists believe narcissism is primarily genetic, but many mental health professionals strongly believe narcissism is rooted in childhood.

Few studies have been done to date on the causes of narcissism, but some geneticists have implicated a high-frequency recessive gene as a genetic explanation for the personality trait and for the more severe NPD.

Interestingly, the authors who discount the genetic explanation and believe parenting is the cause of narcissism are evenly split on the details of the parenting theory.

Some believe over-critical and demanding parenting methods result in the development of NPD, while others believe the opposite is true, and that permissive parenting styles are to blame.

Currently, there is no cure for NPD and generally narcissists are highly resistant to therapy or change.

The most common advice therapists give their clients who are involved with a narcissist remains the same: discontinue contact or at least limit contact with narcissists as much as you possibly can; people with NPD cannot or will not change their behavior and everything must be done on their emotionally abusive terms.

In the event that more research suggests that there is indeed a genetic predisposition, some questions will still remain.

Is narcissism the result of a genetic predisposition which does not manifest unless the disorder is psychologically or physically triggered by childhood experience?

Is the disorder purely genetic, passed down to a certain percentage of offspring and requiring no triggering events or experiences at all?

Considerably more work is needed before the causes of narcissism can be fully understood.


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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

93 thoughts on “Is Narcissism Genetic?”

  1. Thank you for your interesting article. I have been doing some research trying to make sense of the disorder. I have experience of a narcissist in my life. But as someone pointed out this person had a particularly hard upbringing, which is certainly the case and I can see it would cause low self esteem. But I don’t think this is the only factor. As from what I have seen one of her sisters at least seems to have the same traits. The other sister wanted nothing to do with the family at all. I wonder if it has anything to do with close communities in the past, not direct inbreeding but a weakening of the gene pool through the ages. It closely resembles psychopathic disorders which have a lot to do with inbreeding. Though if that were a factor you would think this disorder would appear in ethnic minorities, who marry cousins, or does it?

    No expert on this but my views from what I have experienced would pint to this
    Passed down to a certain percentage of offspring and requiring no triggering events or experiences at all?

    • I have two daughters, they both have different father’s.. My daughter who has npd personality and has no ability to reason things out is exactly like her abusive npd dad.. My other daughter is easygoing talk a things put and does not experience rage… She is three years older than the daughter who resembles her biological dad’s personality

      • Hi Gina, I also have 2 daughters (ages 14 and 17) with 2 diff dads. My oldest has NPD just like her father, however, my boyfriend and I have raised her together since the age of 3 and we are the exact opposite type of people/parents of a narcissist. I am certain that my NPD daughter has never experienced abuse or trauma that I know of. Her NPD is severe and she was actually diagnosed at about the age of 8. My point is that I strongly believe NPD to be genetic and in my case this is all the proof I need. I found your case very interesting though because u r the first other person I’ve heard of with a NDP child..its always about the spouse or the mother, etc. I wish we could converse more, I’m sure your story is as crazy as would be nice to share with someone who can relate

        • I have two daughters from different dads, and they are still very young but I notice the clear difference in personality. My oldest, wants to help, easy going,non- reactive, seeks empathy from me. My youngest is reactive, refuses my sympathy and strong willed, and vengeful, with an npd dad. She is still very young ( 2 yrs) but I note the temperament and behavioral differences right away. Neither child has ever experienced abusive parenting.

        • I have 3 sons that I have parented for the most part on my own. I have seen each child show different signs of this behavior. I have spent many hours at the table explaining why this behavior is wrong and as they got older gave more information why. I don’t believe it worked maybe to some degree but not much. I know my husband would say suggestive things to put in there minds but I would try to explain that too but who knows what he said and done 100% when he had small bits of time to be with them on his own. They usually would tell me what he said or did that they found strange but they are the first person to point out other peoples faults and run with it

          I do believe, judging from my experience that it is passed down from a parent.

        • Wow! Gina and Sarah, both of you share a similar story to mine. I have been suffering for a few years now as my ex-husband is an extreme narcissistic psychopath whom I believed had been slowly and methodically turning my three kids against me (ages 23 and twins who are 20). However, it is clear that my oldest daughter has the same traits as her father and it is not just her father’s nasty influence, but her inability to see anyone else’s perspective but her own that is responsbile for our inability to get along. A year ago I gave her $4000.00 to help with community college expenses (she chose to move away and live with her boyfriend), but the money had stipulations – (1) it all had to go to school, (2) she had to show me proof that it wasn’t “blown” and (3) she had to call her grandparents and thank them. She became enraged saying the her brother and sister didn’t have to do any such thing. She refused to meet any of the terms; I havent spoken to her since. She has told everyone in the community that I have always been abusive and her grandparents hate her. Needless to say, she constantly plays the victim to anyone who will listen. My middle daughter also exhibits similar tendencies, but her twin brother does not, but he is so influenced by the the others that he is helpless to not “drink the kool-aid.” Like you, Gina, it would be nice to share with someone who can relate. I feel like I have been dealt a triple dose of crazy and hostile. I don’t know of any others who suffer our plight with our children inheriting this terrible mental illness from their father (or mother in some cases, I suppose). Thank you both for sharing your story. I feel a little less alone today.

          • I am comforted in a sense by all of these posts. I have two daughters as well, both by different fathers. My eldest was raised by me for 10 years until I remarried. Her biological father left us and her, never to return when she was 16 months old. My life and career revolved around looking after her and my priorities revolved around my daughter at all times. Every decision I made was made around her needs. I did not indulge her, I was a loving disciplinarian. I was a nurturer and she was my life. I then married a man who loved her like his own. Two years after we married, she was 12, a baby sister came along. She had shown signs of jealousy from a very young age, I always attributed it to the fact that she was the only child of a single mom. When her sister arrived she didn’t bond with her. In hindsight I should have taken her to a therapist. She left home early, around 19. She moved back home for a few years until she again moved out. She is now married with 3 daughters. Last year her husband (a big bully with a medical degree) and together on speaker phone they both accused me of some terribly hurtful things. He hates his own mother and has no relationship with his sister. She has cut all communication with all of us, her sister included. We no longer see her or her babies. My youngest is convinced that her sister fits the “narcissist” personality type. And while no mother wants to admit it, I believe she’s right. She lacks empathy, has a jealous streak, is never wrong, doesn’t forgive or forget, drops friends over trivial disagreements, claims to be smarter than the rest of us…..and is extremely insecure. As her mother I have spent the last year believing that I must have created these issues, but with the help of a wonderful therapist I am learning that she most likely “inherited” the narcissistic trait. When I had cancer she never came over to visit after my surgery and not once comforted her little sister who was only 8 at the time.The fact that she now lives with a man whom we believe has NPD, this just amplifies her issues. How does one walk away from a child. I am learning that I did not create this and in order to heal myself I need to accept no blame. Her sister is healing from the anguish of no longer having a big sister. She has been extremely successful with her athletic abilities and is academically strong , at university on a full scholarship in engineering, however she learned to downplay all of these successes around her sister for many years. I am not like my eldest, I have always been the nurturing person in my family. The eldest in a family of 6 children, I looked after my siblings. I also looked after my parents during their last year of life, while the rest of my siblings carried on with their lives. My daughter’s biological father had many issues himself which is why we separated, he was an alcoholic from an extremely toxic family. These traits are difficult to deal with and I am only comforted in the knowledge that I am not alone as a mother dealing with a narcissistic child.

        • Hi Sara. I too have a daughter age 20 who I believe is either NPD or a narcissist. Her father is clearly a narc. She was raised with love, best schools, pets, activities she chose, birthday parties, the list goes on. When she approached the teen years, her dad treated me as the “bad mom, the “red-headed step child” who should not receive love nor respect. I wish we could talk. Maybe we can help each other. Are you on FB? I normally don’t use email. I use messenger. I hope you respond. Thanks

        • You are not alone! I have a grown daughter who I can see now has always been a narcissist. And you are 100% right there just is no support for parents of grown narcissists. It is automatically assumed that it is the parents fault. I’m sure I didn’t do everything perfectly but I can assure you she was neither traumatized, spoiled nor neglected. Grew up in a loving 2 parent home which was as balanced as we could possibly make it. Mine has a 6 and a 1/2 year old daughter who I have had to raise since her mom can’t be bothered and there is no father. It has been horrible and still is. I pretty much have to take her abuse to try to give the granddaughter the love and care she needs. I can’t go no contact because she will neglect and abuse the child unless I am right in the middle of it. Seen it. I’ve had to lay down my life to try to protect this child. Anyone dealing with a narcissist knows you can’t say anything without tripping their trigger. You either have to appease them or get away from them. This child didn’t ask to be born and I just can’t walk away. As it is she will not come out of this unscathed I can already see it.
          Wish there were somewhere to turn, even therapists only seem willing to deal with children of narcissist mothers, not mothers of narcissist children. I did not cause this and I know that from the bottom of my heart. My brother is dead now but I am certain he was a psychopath. I am convinced this can be genetic. As stated in the article,
          “Currently, there is no cure for NPD and generally narcissists are highly resistant to therapy or change. The most common advice therapists give their clients who are involved with a narcissist remains the same: discontinue contact or at least limit contact with narcissists as much as you possibly can; people with NPD cannot or will not change their behavior and everything must be done on their emotionally abusive terms.”

          I have to see her every day and live in the same house, unless I want to throw my granddaughter to the wolves. The thought often comes into my mind I will never escape this until I die. It’s hell on earth.

          • How are you doing? That must be really hard…. I hope you and your granddaughter can find a solution or something

    • Hi,

      I here what your saying about hard up bringing. My dad was always telling me how abused he was, I talked to psychologists to help me get over how bad his up bringing was, I made excuses for him, I gave him free passes through all the emotional abuse he put me through, than the other day I said to mum ‘ do you think it was his terrible childhood that made him this way?’ She looked at me blankly ‘what do you mean?’ Turn out he wasn’t abused at all. It was just another lie to get attention. The pool of people he’s told this lie to is wide. Other people come up to me telling me ‘he’s like this because of his terrible childhood,’ etc. just putting it out there. My sister talks about her terrible childhood. Makes stuff up. I just sit there going ‘what?’

    • Yes, I agree. My ex-husband is Persian and very in-bred. He is a narcissist and it is persistent in his family. I was married to him and thought these characteristics were related to being from another country, until a counselor pointed out that he had this disorder…..

  2. Thankyou, Alexander, for your clear article. Narcissism seems to run deep in the men of my family, and last night I was the recipient of an older brother’s narcissistic rage. Since I am newly divorced from a narcissist husband and am reading up on the subject, I am able to clearly spot the disorder like never before. Because of last night, I am once again reminded that, because of the the narcissists stunning lack of empathy unequally weighted with the heaviness of the cold, must-win mentality, one must always simply walk away and stay away and never stop watching.

    • Cynthia you are so right in saying one must walk away and stay away. I have two younger sisters, and our father most definitely had NPD, and more recently, one of my sisters and I have finally realized that our youngest sister has NPD. She is impossible, and lives in her own alternate reality, where she is always the victim, despite the fact that she has abused and victimized others to an amazing degree. My other sister and I are so sad that we finally had to cut off relations with her, after years of cycling behavior, where there would be horrible fights based on her accusatory and abusive behavior, followed by periods where she seemed to be better and more pleasant to be with. These “good” periods never lasted, and we know that we have no choice but to sever all ties. She has two children, one in college and one in high school, and the older child, a girl, seems to be exhibiting NPD traits as well. Very very sad.

  3. I unknowingly at the time married a man 35 years ago who also drank too much.. He had a hard luck “story” that as a virgin (he was 13 years my senior)
    At the age of 24 !/2 with a 3 and a 1 year old, I told him he had to get help for his drinking or leave…I was not going to raise my children in an environment where Dad comes home whenever he feels like it etc….Fast forward to today..BOTH my beautiful, talented adult children are imo Narcissist/Sociopath or Borderline…I KNOW this Pathology in inherited… My children were loved and raised solo by me, and had great family incl my parents etc…The story is too sad to elaborate on..But there is no doubt in my mind, it’s ALL Nature…the roll of the genetic dice…

    • Hello Sally,
      You and I have figured out, by our own family experiences, what the Professionals continue to argue about among themselves.

      For generations the Professionals have blamed family upbringing for many mental disorders AKA “it’s the mother’s fault”.

      I have two daughters in their Mid 40’s. One is Narcissist/Bi-polar and the other is Narcissist/Borderline.
      Their father is Narcissistic, his mother is Borderline. My daughters have rarely seen or talked to their father or grandmother since they were 3 and 5 years of age and yet they have these disorders.
      To make things even worse, three of my 4 siblings, my father, grandmother and huge numbers of my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and their children have Bi-Polar Disorder.
      Apparently it is very common for people who have mental illnesses in their families to marry and have children with mates that also have mental illnesses in their families.
      If I had known 47 years ago what I know now I would never have had biological children.

      • Hello Gale (and Sally and all other readers here),

        You are right on with the Genetics of the Horror Story. Mind you, we are only “Lay Mothers” and “Lay-Ex-wives” – and that sets us up for accusations of: “what do YOU know? You only have Google Knowledge.” However, as these disordered individuals seldom admit to BEING the problem or HAVING an issue, by default that leaves us relying on The School of Hard Knocks & Experience. Which in my book, count for more than a clinical assessment. Couldn’t a highly intelligent Narc even pre-assume the questions and answer accordingly? My Ex is a brilliant Chemical Engineer & my oldest daughter is in Vet school. They were both high school Valedictorians.

        The genetic question (Nature versus Nurture) has fascinated me for a long while. My father & sister are both PhD professors and Narcs. She has become him, and thankfully never had children. I’ve had 2 daughters & my sister has published 2 books. My father-in-law was also a Narc & his son (my Ex) proudly modeled his behavior after his father. This would be an example of Nature AND Nurture, I suppose. And don’t they say women marry their fathers? I certainly resemble that remark!.

        Public Radio has aired a 2013 feature: “The Psychopath Test” several times. It’s an excellent listen. I remember times from kindergarten & as a teen when I surprised myself for having empathetic feelings. That’s my measure of myself, when my whole family asserts it’s ME & not them who have issues. We know what we know.

        And I also know this: Don’t obsess over this very real horror. That lets Darkness (Satan) into our minds where he wants to be. I thank God daily for my insight and mental health!

    • I have the same sort of story. My family is riddled with cluster B’s and drunks, too.
      I married a narcissist and our child is wildly BPD, as well as bipolar, too. It is genetic. I was their slave and did a great job making things wholesome and they are still the way they started out.

  4. I had the misfortune of marrying an extremely narcissistic man. Both his mother and father and mother had severe personality disorders. I found all this out only after I married him.

    His lack of sympathy, constant lying, deceitfulness, stealing, and carrying on with other women led to divorce. I had one child with him and he physcally and financially abandoned both of us.

    I raised my child with love, boundaries, and a solid moral core – I thought. The lying began when she was very young; being sneeky and deception followed, stealing began shortly after. Of course, she was disiplined for any moral infraction. Why she was being punished was explained. The problem was – she punished me back. For example: Taking away TV for a week for lying, resulted in all my winter coats disappearing in the middle of winter. Any amount of trying to get her to tell me where the coats where resulted in her denying any knowlege of what I was talking about. My coats reappeared in the spring, dumped on a street corner.
    Not allowing her to attend a party because she did not do her homework project, as promised, resulted in a horendous smear campaign of me at her school. Supposedly, according to her, I locked her out of the house so she couldn’t do her project. Being caught drinking ( yes, drinking) in school was blamed on someone else. Manipulating me to give her money for something, that didn’t cost what she said it did, resulted in calling me foul names and physcial abuse. Money, disappearing out of my purse, or anywhere for that matter, was another of my punishments for setting boundries.
    From the beginning of her life, I felt she wasn’t bonding with me. Strange that I would feel that. She wouldn’t let me hold her, hug her, put my arm around her. It’s as if I was there for one thing and one thing only – provide for her. I never felt any love coming back. If I was sick, there was no compassion and she became more demanding. If I was (rarely) down about something, it’s as if she smelled blood in the water and would berate me. I rarely, if ever, showed any weakness after that.

    I took her to therapy when she was a teenager and she charmed the pants off them. I could she how smug she was coming out of the office, knowing she fooled a professional.

    Long story short : After I put her through college, I put a roof over her head for one year, I helped her move to another state to do her grad work. She got a job, ( I was very proud of her) took out a loan, and I never heard from her again. She used me for what I could do for her, and after that was used up, she had no use for me anymore. It’s been 5 years.

    I know she took up with a man 15 years her senior, and transferred everything her father did on to me – Neglect, abuse, abandonment. I was not allowed to meet or have any contact with this man – ever. Why? Because her house of cards and the “poor me” stories she told would tumble in ruins at her feet.

    She is exactly like her father and his family. I knew what they were like and did my best to raise her in a loving, caring, nurturing enviornment – and she was! But, I couldn’t fight what was already inside her. It was there, it developed, I knew it and tried in intervene quickly, but, therapy did nothing.

    • Our stories are pretty much the same. It helps to know other parents did the best they could also. They just seem to not have a conscience, soul, or heart. I also knew something was not right with her, I tried so hard then she found a rich mans son, and off she went, I had served my purpose. At least I have peace now. Best of luck to you.

    • My daughter is the same. When she was just a baby her nickname was touch me not. The name isn’t exactly accurate, I could carry her all day and she was happy but she would cringe at a hug or cuddle. I see her struggle with adult life and know she believes everything in the world is my fault. She has also started drinking and there is nothing I can do. When I was sick or her brother she always thought we were faking it and just wanted to make her pay attention to us. So sad and sick. I know it will only get worse and I keep reminding myself of the little girl she use to be.

      • Kea,
        I’m stunned right now. I could have written this paragraph. My daughters nickname was my little touch me not. Everything is my fault and her brother was never sick. She went through an eating disorder and is emotionally unstable most of the time. She has moved and has a good job. She can barely have a conversation with me. When she was little we had a great relationship. Around 11 she started acting strange. Around 21 things really went down hill. I miss a mother daughter relationship in my heart I know will alwas be the one to pick up the pieces and the one to be blamed. I wish we could talk.

    • I am so relieved to find I am not alone. I divorced my probably NPD husband when my daughter was 4 and she had a good stable and supportive upbringing. Now aged 34 she is at least as bad as him if not worse. I am very strongly of the opinion that NPD is hereditary, the research hasn’t been done yet.

      • That’s astounding, isn’t it? One would think that this research would have been done years ago. (The ADHD gene was identified years ago.)

        Since NPDs are notorious for not seeking help (since “There is no problem!”), I also am of the opinion that the “1%” estimate (NPDs in the population) is way too low so not even a close representative of the actual percentage.

    • Your story sank in to my soul! My sister is a narcissist and my mother was her victim when we were growing up, I turned in to her victim as we became adults. My mother also had some major issues too, but I do believe she did what she did because of the gaslighting, the punishments from my sister. It’s all so clear to me now. Reading your story, I FEEL for you. Oh man. Hugs.

    • Incredible story!!! I will definitely keep it close when trying to figure out if narcissism is a genetic issue or not. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh how I can relate to your story. I’m not allowed to see my grandchildren. Only for a short time did I have the ability to love them until she stopped me from any contact. My daughter collectively over the years made horrible accusations about me and to allow anyone to actually meet me would cause her facade to be known so I wasn’t allowed to participate in any functions. It wasn’t until a friend of hers text me, I had met her once, wanting to talk. After five hours on the phone with her friend all of my suspicious were validated. Yet it was turned around on me because I “entertained the conversation “. Shortly after the friend blocked me and reestablished the friendship with my daughter. So I became the person of fault for listening, while never disparaging my daughter, to someone who really told it like it was and she was exonerated. Go figure.Ky

    • So very sad, but your experience explains it all. There is no cure for this disorder. Once a narc always a narc. My father is the same way. He causes so much hatred and everything has to be his way. He actually frightens me with his chaotic thinking and anger. He expects everything and everyone to revolve around him and he is never wrong. You eat the food he eats and go to bed when he goes to bed.

      My boyfriend of 23 years passed away and I helped his mother for 4 years. Same animal, so to speak as my father. No matter how much love I showed to this woman it made no difference. She was manipulative, sneaky, hateful and abusive. She used to hit me, too. If I confronted her and asked her not to she would trick me and deny it. She would deliberately forget things that benefited her but had no trouble remembering other things. They are both frugal, stingy to a fault, unyielding, stubborn, have no friends, controlling, have chaotic thinking, and never wrong.

      I had to discontinue contact with both of them. Their behavior actually made me sick.

    • I am in the same boat as you. I found out afterward.
      Talk about callous, lying, manipulative, explosive, cheating and lying to my face when I am holding the phone bill in my hands, introverted, never says “I am sorry”, ever!!!
      Then he asks me “what is wrong with you that makes you act like this?” WOW!
      His mother had kids by 2 different men. His side, are ALL ALIKE. They all have NPD and they ALL hate me.
      They are Jamaicans, btw.
      The other father made kind, considerate, calm, normal kids.

      I have been packing when he is not home so I can escape without injury.
      He attempted to hit me over the head with a lamp attached to an end table.
      25 years is enough suffering for me.
      He is 70 and I am 55. I can still have a happy new chapter!
      Wish me luck.

    • My heart breaks for you. My situation played out differently but I understand your pain. I have read that what we are (or have been) is called narcissistic supply. People serve no purpose but to satisfy their endless needs, and when they drain us completely they move on to the next victim. Don’t know if you will ever see this, but I told my story above in another comment.
      It will never stop as long as they are in our lives. I can’t get the narcissist out of my life because of her innocent child.
      I know these comments are old but I hope things have gotten better for everyone. Unfortunately I know that is doubtful. I wish there was a support group or even a forum online for parents of narcissists.

  5. My mom is seemingly narcissistic. She shows all too many of the signs. She has four children, including me. None of us are adults yet; the oldest is 17. She picks fights with everyone and refers to the family as herself. She sets ridiculous rules up for us and expects us to follow them, although she doesn’t follow them herself, and these rules are not to set up character or teach us right from wrong. It’s just to see how much power she has, and how far she can go. She won’t let us brush our teeth after breakfast. AFTER breakfast! None of us res

    • Sorry, my message got cut off. Here:
      None of us respect her for what she’s done, and believe me, there is much more that has happened. And the worst part is my dad has been manipulated to think that the children need to change rather than his wife, who married him for his money. He says that he’s on our side, and that he will do what he can. But he NEVER comes through. My mom smokes inside the house, even after I politely ask her to go outside. I don’t want to have the consequences of second-hand smoking. Even more so, I don’t want my siblings and I to become narcissistic.

  6. Well, I am newly discovered narcissist. I am 17 years old. There is different types and I am the covert/closet narcissist. I make people believe that I am sweet and loving, and that I could not hurt a fly. But, meantime I,m cruel and don’t care for anybody but myself. I am good into making people sorry for me. I constantly think about myself and my needs, I feel special in some sort of way and if I must tell every point of my traits it will never end. But what I am getting at here is, I have an covert narcisstic father. My mother usually tells me I never cried and I was different from most normal pre-schoolers. I was not loving at all. The narcissism runs hectic in my family, from both grandmothers, to uncles and ant’s to nieces and nephews. BUT I want to be helped and cured although I know my narcissism will not disappear but I can learn empathy and learn to connect, I can build my relationship stronger with God. There is help, I am not cured yet, but I feel I will get there, fight my awfull genes, and believe.

    • Elle,

      Your story affected me, and I wanted to wish you good luck with your life. You mention your father as a closet narcissist, but you don’t say much about your mother. If she has genuine sympathetic feelings you may be able to learn something from her. I think we all learn from our parents or carers how to think of others as well as ourselves. I can remember when as a young boy my selfish ideas would come out and my mum would gently point out that the other people have feelings too, and I learnt so much from her in that way. So you have made the biggest breakthrough yourself in seeing yourself, and wanting to change some things. We all learn about being together with others and being kind, from watching how others behave, so I believe there must be hope, now you have had insight into your makeup.

    • Hi Elle,

      Good for you that you are taking steps in the right direction. Recognition is the first step. First of all no one is perfect. We all have good and bad traits. We all are narcissist to some degree. So do not bet yourself up too bad. That being said, try to find ways to help others. This Christmas I worked with a league to raise money for children and adults with disabilities. I also helped collect 90 gifts for children and adults with disabilities who do not have parents. Helping others helps me take my mind off of my problems and makes me feel good. I have a daughter, 15 with autism. She does not have the ability to feel empathy. That part of the brain is wired differently. I could be really hurt laying on the ground with blood spilling out and she would want me to make her something to eat.
      But it is not her fault. I still love her. I believe my husband has narcissistic traits. However, he is a wonderful father. loyal, does not lie, cheat and is very smart and a good provider. However, he can be very selfish, picks fights and can be mean. He most likely will not have a gift for me under the tree this year. However, I can decide to hate him for his bad traits or love him for his good traits. No one is perfect. Learning our strengths and weaknesses and building on strengths is important. Pursue a career based on what you enjoy and are naturally good at and you will be successful. Understanding your limitations and other are important. Forgiving others and ourselves when we make mistakes is extremely important. Surrond yourself with mentors and people who are healthy and inspire you. Take time to do something nice for someone. Find a professional to talk to. I have been in therapy for two years and it is helping me a lot. Therapy has been a godsend. It has opened my eyes, lifted my depression and helps me make better decisions. Good luck!

    • Big Respect, to tell your story, there is a good soul in you. I hope you will get it under control. I guess with recognition that is the biggest step, far away from LIES. I wished there were more bravo people like you to tell their honest feelings. I wish you all the best with treatment.

    • Elle,
      And I also want to thank you for your proving that you are worthwhile to be you and the pain of being given the statement that you are doomed with the fact that you are not ever going to be able to change is not FACT, in any way, shape or form.
      I am now just getting to know the actual terminology of the definition of the npd. I had started to look back to my first memory of my experience with father screaming at my mom to get get me and fix the problem I had told her. I was five years old and I quit a musical instrument lessons and he said we were never going to be quitters. I remember distinctively leaving my body of the shock and pain of my heart or nerves to the sensitivity of the instant rage.
      That being said for a reference to this. I had two younger sisters and my mother and, as my father first little girl, and I was just seeing how it was not conscious at 5,what I was doing.
      Now at 48 and I am a professional animal behavior rehabilitation to mostly horse issues. I had started to be always in the family farms and with the small animals.

      As an observer of my specialty for pack language of the horses which, took years to apprentice with the experts and the top expert in this area, we are always working with their own non verbal language and the ability to use it to join and be the alpha, it’s both the cues they use and the senses they are always going to know if I have the ability to lead. If not, they are not going to be able to trust me for survival and will assume that position in self preservation.

      SO, I am very much curious about this because my mind often refers to the observation of our lives in the pack mentality

  7. Wow what a revelation this article and the comments below Are For me. My two adult children both inherited this from father a brutally cruel man Who fooled me And still fools people daily. I left Him when the children were babies but the poison was passed on.
    I have spent a lifetime giving my children every opportunity. mostly to little appreciation. last year finally I realised it was me or them they had sucked me dry. I built a wall around my delicate feelings and said no more, I continue to love and encourage them, but I tell them the truth about what they are doing and wont tolerate disrespect.
    watching my 30 year old son with his wife fills me with fear because they are having a baby and the older my son gets the more. I see hes a copy of his dad in temprament although the other side I see hes a lovely boy and tries hard.
    I feel like by my choice of husband made all those years ago when I was 20. I have cursed my children. I wish I could change that. I cant. They have both achieved well but I know the emmotional state is a snake hiding in the grass waiting to strike.

  8. My husband has NPD. I have been better able to cope since learning about the condition.

    Interestingly my 12 year old daughter seems to have the same traits. I have two grown up children from a previous marriage and although not perfect, they could show empathy, love and care. I suffer with IBS (unsurprisingly) but when I am ill my 12yr old is ambivolent (not sure I spelt that right but it is the perfect describer). As soon as you do
    not do what she wants she becomes ackward, argumentative and naughty.

    My husband hasn’t completely changed. But it is interesting watching him cope. Sometimes gets angry. She is more fearful of his anger and somehow he gains more respect from her because of this. If I get angry I get told off in front of her. He is more tolerant of her behaviour when it comes to being disprespectful of me. He is far more willing to let her off saying its not worth
    the fight.

    Truthfully, I always thought she’d care for me more as I had always cared for her and protected her from his wrath. This has not been the case at all. Its like a mutual admiration with me as the imperfect one on the outside.

    • It is funny you say that. Narcissists have common admiration for each other even when one screws the other.

      My aunt is taking care of my narcissistic grandmother and still my grandmother likes my narrsisitic mom more who does everything she can to avoid taking care of her.

  9. Hi. My mother is a narcissist. I didn’t want to believe this and for many years attempted to maintain a relationship with her and my dominated father, only to learn she truly had no empathy and could only relate to anything outside of her as being about her. I have two older sisters and I had always hoped we would end up closer because of the mental and physical abuse we witnessed and suffered. Instead, I honestly believe at least one of them is narcissistic herself and the other possibly borderline as well as narcissistic.
    I have been terrified to have children of my own so the traits are not passed on. I myself do not feel I have these traits, but I do sometimes feel disconnected and reactive when I feel displaced. My therapist assured me I am not a narcissist in any way but it’s little solace.
    I disconnected from my family about 5 years ago. Though it was a difficult thing to do, I felt I was on an emotionally abusive merry go round that left me exhausted and terrified as to what might be coming next from them in terms of judgements and lies. It’s hard to explain to people why I have n o family and they often seem to think I did something or am a terrible person for not just putting up with my family. Still, I can say I feel some peace from being completely apart and can only hope to never cross paths with them again.

    • Hi Stacy,

      Your post really resonated with me. I too have tried to distance myself from my narcissistic parents and people in my life have failed to understand why I’m not close to them. I never bother to explain all the emotional abuse I’ve suffered at their hands because 1) I don’t like talking about it and 2) for so long I was made to look like the crazy one and as a result, I have a very hard time trusting other people. Thank you for articulating the anxiety that one experiences having to interact with such individuals. I think the more people like yourself discuss your experiences the less alone we’ll all feel.

  10. I have just discovered my daughter who’s 28 this. It al started from when she was a baby and hsf to go into hospital for a few days. She can’t home a totally different baby, different personality, different mood. I thought she would settle back down after a week or so, but no. I took her to doctor sheet doctor who said the was nothing wrong with her, but there was. It’s like living in a nightmare and she causes so many problems and speaks to us like we are the dregs of the earth. There have been times when it’s got so bad I have really lost my temper, which I only do with her, abs told her if she didn’t back off and get out of my sight I would put my fist down her throat! And then I go off and cry to think I would even say such a thing let alone think about doing it. Looking back, my grandmother, aunt and cousin had this condition. My sister could quite easily fit in this bracket, but she’s not as bad now but still gets her moments. At least now I know what it is and can understand it a little more. Pity it doesn’t help the situation I find myself in. I look forward to the day she moves out so I can see her and talk to her when I want to. I feel sad I can’t have a good relationship with her

  11. Interesting article. I was wondering if anybody could have the answer to my question. If I believe that my significant other suffers from NPD would it be possible to obtain custody of my children in family court.

    Just curious is anyone has any experience with this.

    Thank you in advance.

    • I lost custody of my kids from the lies of my narc. The family courts take here say as the truth and believe the lies until they can’t be proven at the end. Judges don’t know anything about narcissism. Family courts are far the worst at being fair in my opinion

      • I am an attorney. You are wise not to fight a narcissist in court. Since narcissists are rather charming and extremely good at lying, you will end up spending tens of thousands on attorneys fees for nothing. I am heavily critical of the family court system for failing to recognize the traits of personality disorders in the people they have coming in front of them. Courts allow high conflict family disputes to drag on for years because of this ignorance. The taxpayers fund this and the only ones who make out are the lawyers. It is a racket.

        • I recommend visiting This woman battled her NPD husband in court, and she wrote a book about how to divorce a narcissist to help the rest of us. In addition to working to educate the family court system on NPD, she also coaches people through the process of divorcing a narcissist, including best strategies in court. Apparently, there are many of us out there trying to escape the hell. Best of luck to each of you!

          It’s true… charming can be dangerous, and, since NPDs live in their own world of fantasy, they will have no problem putting on a show for the judge. Note: be sure to hide your paperwork and notes well. My NPD husband would search my files and make copies of things thinking I wouldn’t know, but I could tell. Be careful of what he could try to use against you! You would be amazed. It’s all a game to them, and all they care about is WINNING.

    • Your best bet is probably first contact a lawyer. Document everything and never let them know what you are planning. You can only present the factual evidence that proves them to be a detrimental aspect in their lives. How or what you can come up with is another thing. Just remember that if you are to have any chance at all you must make decisions with their manipulative underhanded personality in mind. Play them like they do other’s. Tends to throw them off. Be careful though, because an angry NPD is dangerous. I did win my kids. But it was one of the scariest times of my life. Good luck.

    • I lost custody to my NPD ex who has a new baby with an Antisocial PD in September. I was the primary carer for the three kids for the 7 years prior but the enormous wall of allegations was too much to defend against including dr referrals to social services from made-up neglect and abuse. Three months later the primary school made a referral to social services: my kids are miserable living with a psycho step-dad and narc mom…. I’m lurking in this thread because I need to make a strong case that all three come and live with me, it will be up to social services.

      These ‘genetic curse’ stories are heartbreaking to read for someone like me who places such an enormous belief in the power for people to change for the better while they are still young. There are some cool brain lectures on yt from Stanford Prof. Robert Sapolsky. In one he claims that the Frontal Cortex, where you make plans and where alot of your personality ‘lives’, is not fully developed until you are 25. By extension this region is the least influenced by ‘nature’ and the most by ‘nurture’. So there is hope for those that are still children. Do:
      ’empathy training’,
      lots of unstructured social activity,
      zero TV/tablets,
      validate their funny mixed up feelings return them with very slight corrections toward sanity,
      ‘thinking about thinking’,
      lower the ’emotional temperature’ and
      if they start sliding do anything Marsha Linehan says to do (ie. have the ‘cutters’ hold ice cubes instead).

      My heart pours out to those in this thread, I never expected to be so touched by a near-relatives of narcissism!

  12. I believe narcissism does run in families. My mother is an extreme case and after years of abuse and wondering why she was always so hateful towards me, I see she treats everyone that way. My two younger siblings and I have all independently cut communication with her. I believe most my mothers siblings avoid each for the same reason (they are all too much alike).

  13. What a sad comfort it is to read everyone’s experience. I’ve been wondering if NPD is genetic or learned or a combination of everything. I was married for 15 years to a brilliant terrifying man & had 2 children. Our oldest child took the brunt of her father’s narcissistic physical & mental abuse when he couldn’t control me. Our son was the “golden child” however, he still was emotionally abused by his dad. Truely, I was brainwashed, groomed, programmed and I fought my way out of that marriage. Unfortunately, my ex husband used the courts to get what he believed he deserved: his children. He fooled so many people & he got physical custody when our kids were 11 & 14. He apparently loved his children but behind closed doors he was very jealous of them. It was pathetic. He got physical custody & I got joint legal custody. I paid him child support even though I had never had a career. He always came first. After 15 years of being a devoted military wife, following him around the world, I was nothing but a tissue he’d blown his nose on & discarded. He wanted to destroy me, he couldn’t kill me thank God, so he did the next best thing. He used the police every chance he could to fight his battles & parent his children. Both of those children are adults now, both heroin addicts battling their Inner demons. However, the oldest, I am having to face, is a Narcissist and I’m trying to wrap my brain around the reality that I am nothing more than a “host” that feeds her narcissistic needs. My son on the other hand is very feeling, loving, remorseful. I must sever my relationship with my daughter to save myself. It breaks my heart but I know that a relationship with a narcissist is not a real relationship. I don’t know how to break up with my own daughter but she only wants me when she needs me. I have tried her whole life to love her enough, show her empathy, teach her empathy, etc. I know I can’t love her into being well & it kills me. She had the abusive Narcissistic dad, the over compensating mom and she’s a narcissist. My son had the same but he is not a narcissist. Genetics must play a big role in this equation. Can anybody who has had to sever their relationship with their child/children offer me guidance, support, encouragement. It’s only been recently that I’m facing this reality. And Elle, you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge so kudos to you for seeing. Please get help, you will destroy yourself and others and end up a very sad lonely soul.
    Thank you everybody for sharing.
    I now know I’m not the only one.

    • My daughter is 30 now. Her father is a narcissist and so is my daughter. I have a 25 year old son who has always been a very empathetic loving child until recently. He is still loving however, I am seeing certain traits that are worrisome. My daughter has two children, now 8 and 5. I called protective services when my first grandchild was born, almost 3 months old, because he was not thriving and even though the pediatrician told her to supplement she not only refused she fired the doctor. My grandchild at almost 3 months old weighed less than 10 lbs. He was 7 at birth. They lived on one coast and I on the other. So after their visit and storming out to go to her father’s, three days early, I left some voice mails stating that if she didn’t do something I would. I made the call and didn’t see my grandson for the next 4 years.

      When I found out that she and her husband had moved back to my area I contacted her. My mother who definitely has NPD came to where we live and did her usual underhanded thing and made it even worse. When my daughter had her second child I only found out two weeks later when I asked my mother if my daughter had the baby. She told me to call her and ask.

      It’s been 5 years now and I have tried my best to make certain that my grandchildren know that I love them very much. But she has told them to never trust me and that I tried to steal my grandson when he was a baby. I have not been allowed to see or talk to them in over a year and a half. They live five minutes from me.

      So I have no words of wisdom for you. It hurts like hell. Even more so when there are grandchildren involved. Especially when you think about what they are living with. No one can EVER get a true narcissistic person to change. They see nothing wrong with how they are and will destroy a codependent in a heartbeat. In fact, I believe that my son in law is codependent, his mother is another piece of work, and my daughter has reduced him to self loathing and complete allegiance to her. Even though she fooled around and left him. I wish I knew how to wake him up without making it worse. Good luck.

    • I predict, from my own experience, that your daughter will break up with you if you wait long enough. When she has used you up, she will throw you away. She will hurt you as much as she can in the throw-away process and then she will be gone. Once you have nothing more that she wants from you, you will get your peace, provided she is distracted by some other target(s). The NPDs operate for fun and profit. Punishing and destroying their victims is FUN.

  14. Great article I hope to god it’s not genetic. I have 3 little children I pray to God my husband is emotionally sbusive narcissist who has ruined my life if he ruined there’s too. It’s not possible it’s too cruel I will protect them.

  15. My brother and I [female] are fraternal twins. We were raised the same, however my brother had asthma when young and mum always worried about his health and virtually wrapped him in ‘cotton-wool’. He became dependent on her, with her doing everything for him. Even later as teenagers he expected her do, and even ‘fight his battles’ for him, which she did – Otherwise, he would either continually ‘play’ the ‘poor-me’ guilt trip, or go into a complete rage – until he got his way! Things only got worse from there. With him terrorizing mum, dad and me over the next 30 years, and later, when dad died[12 years ago], his terror and cruelty became solely directed at me. [not mum, because he lives with her, and still needs her to do for him, even though she is now 82 and not well.] We are both nearly sixty, and it still continues, only now I don’t see mum so often, since he wanted/tried to kill me 6 months ago, whilst in an insane rage [over a bowl of soup]. He has always wanted dad and me ‘out of the picture’. I have NEVER been able to talk to him, because anything I say, he ‘perceives’ it as a slight, and goes insane. Plus he has literally ALL of the narcisstic traits – too many to list. I could go on forever about all the years of this madness, but it would fill a book! So, in my case I believe it was NURTURE [overindulgence] from childhood. I feel very sad, having never had a ‘real’ brother, only a monsterous ‘stranger’, and a very frightening life. Walking on egg-shells, never knowing when he will go off-his-head, or what cruel intimidation/abuse etc. I will receive. Funny, I’m the one seeing therapist, on antidepressants and for anxiety, and now not physically well either. I know this will never end until one of us dies, because I still want to be in mum’s life. And I’m thinking lately I might die before mum. I would just like to have had some part of my life free from horror and fear. Sorry for raving on. ♥ P

  16. My brother and I [female] are fraternal twins. We were raised the same, however my brother had asthma when young and mum always worried about his health and virtually wrapped him in ‘cotton-wool’. He became dependent on her, with her doing everything for him. Even later as teenagers he expected her do, and even ‘fight his battles’ for him, which she did – Otherwise, he would either continually ‘play’ the ‘poor-me’ guilt trip, or go into a complete rage – until he got his way! Things only got worse from there. With him terrorizing mum, dad and me over the next 30 years, and later, when dad died[12 years ago], his terror and cruelty became solely directed at me. [not mum, because he lives with her, and still needs her to do for him, even though she is now 82 and not well.] We are both nearly sixty, and it still continues, only now I don’t see mum so often, since he wanted/tried to kill me 6 months ago, whilst in an insane rage [over a bowl of soup]. He has always wanted dad and me ‘out of the picture’. I have NEVER been able to talk to him, because anything I say, he ‘perceives’ it as a slight, and goes insane. Plus he has literally ALL of the narcissistic traits – too many to list. I could go on forever about all the years of this madness, but it would fill a book! So, in my case I believe it was NURTURE [overindulgence] from childhood. I feel very sad, having never had a ‘real’ brother, only a monsterous ‘stranger’, and a very frightening life. Walking on egg-shells, never knowing when he will go off-his-head, or what cruel intimidation/abuse etc. I will receive. Funny, I’m the one seeing therapist, on antidepressants and for anxiety, and now not physically well either. I know this will never end until one of us dies, because I still want to be in mum’s life. And I’m thinking lately I might die before mum. I would just like to have had some part of my life free from horror and fear. Sorry for raving on. ♥ P

    • P – thank you for sharing your experience. It is very telling, and very unfortunate. I feel for you. It’s sad to think that an innocent mother who was trying to protect her child could unknowingly end up hurting him (and you) so severely. This is why parenting should require training!!! People need to know these things. As a mother, I don’t want to make this kind of mistake, and I worry that I am too passive sometimes because I don’t want to hurt them in the moment. It seems that there are times when it is more important to sacrifice the present moment for the sake of the future. Thanks for bringing this point home for me. I can see that my daughter has the “NPD gene” from her father and his mother, so it is SO important that I parent her in the right way to diminish the traits, rather than feed them. Interestingly, her father is very coddling of her (as if he sees himself in her), and he is much harder on our son who does not exhibit narcissistic traits. I watch her when he coddles her, and it is as if I can see the narcissism puffing up, expanding in her. He identifies with her, so she can do no wrong in his eyes. It’s unnerving.

      I believe that there is a gift in every experience (good or bad). Have you thought about what the gift could be for you in your lifetime experience with your brother? BTW, you deserve to enjoy your life! Take it back, and keep your power. One thing I notice with my NPD husband is that when I’m in my power (truly from the inside out), and I don’t care what he does, he can’t shake a stick at me.

  17. Getting back to the genetics, I have an older sibling who has severe narcissistic pd. I suffered from belittling, put downs, being the object of rages, etc. all of my life. Fast forward and I have a child who at 22 years of age is diagnosed with borderline pd (probably moderate severity) and while researching, I come to realize that I myself have borderline traits (I probably wouldn’t meet the full criteria for a diagnosis). I firmly believe that the development of these disorders is definitely genetic, and that they present in different ways and severities and depending on many factors such as upbringing, life experience, etc., but that the causing gene is one and the same.

  18. Are all Ned’s abusive to their kids and family? My mom and sister both have npd and have been abusing parents, husbands, siblings and kids for their entire lives. My brother and I thought my mom had killed my step dad for his money. Can’t prove it but I so believed it after a life time of abuse at her hands I told a police office friend of mine. Well he didn’t beleive me, thought I was grief stricken or something. When my mom found out we thought this, she stole the trust fund our step dad set up and we couldn’t stop it because she was the co-trustee. She diverted all the funds she could and left the rest to my sister who is now doing a happy rub it in your face dance just like she did when we were kids. It’s just not right to be raped, tourchered , beat, worked like a slave and have them take away such a fine person and his gift of love to us. Getting away from the mental and physical abuse after 50 years probably worth losing all 5 he money right?

  19. You say to leave a person who is narcissistic – my daughter was advised by two counselors to leave her husband who is narcissistic but what about her 9 yr old son who she is more and more concerned about. What help is out there?

  20. There _may_ be a way to target them with microwaves. Something to do with a quantum bound state. I imagine the results shan’t be pretty … for them, anyway. This is it .. imagine seeing the day after judgement day!

  21. My heart hurts for all the sufferers. I myself am the mother of an NPD 52 yr old daughter. We don’t stand a chance against them.she has 3daughters herself all of which are the same. Love falls on stoney ground, leaving us feeling helpless and drained. I have a younger daughter who in her youth must have been abused mentally by this beast when I was working (single mother) She and I have talked about her childhood and although she can remember some of the horrors inflicted upon her by her sister she has chosen a loving empathetic nature. For that I’m blessed. Thank you all so very much for your words, love yourselves, and know in your heart of hearts you did and are doing your best. They are choosing to be what thay are. Walk with your God and he will walk with you.

  22. I have a narcisstic son who will not speak to me. I believe he is drug and alcohol dependent. His father was narcisstic and verbally abusive and explosive. Now my son will not talk to me, and I have not seen him for almost a year. He occasionally texts, but he blames me for whatever is going wrong in his life

    • Same, you are not alone. My son, only child, enjoyed a beautiful home, private school, as much love as I could muster. His father is a narc and clearly has lied to him to win favor. He won’t text. If I send him a birthday card, his wife gets on the text and uses disgusting language. I’m getting on with my fabulous life. His loss.

  23. Thank you for all of your stories. They really answer a lot of questions that scientists don’t seem to know. until a couple weeks ago. I thought my children were just self-centered, ungrateful, a bit demanding. But charismatic, smart, normal children. I was quite proud of myself for raising them all by myself. My oldest 2 boys,had already started hating on me, no matter what I did. But, I still had my masters bound, beautiful 19 year old daughter. That is, until I tried to ask her to be a little more respectful of my rights in our apartment. I didn’t even get the words out of my mouth, when she went into this psychotic rage. It was exactly like my sister had done to me several years ago, but so much more in my face, vicious, and demeaning. As soon as it started, I knew it had to somehow genetically be the same thing as my mom and sister. I also realized that was my boys’ problem too, when one of them joined her, and went into a rage at the same time. They tried to have me committed and told my apartment mgmt I was verbally and physically abusing her, to try to get her out of lease. My oldest was raised more by his other Grandmother than by me. She may have spoiled him too much. However, from everything I’ve read, I did all the things right that they say to do, to avoid having narcissistic children. I’m even seeing signs of it in my 3 year old grandson, (whom my son has used as a weapon against me since before he was born). I only have one sister left, out of my entire family, who’s co-dependent like I am. But she’s in the middle of her own hornet’s nest, still trying to have a relationship with our Mom and sister, and at least 2 of her 4 kids have it too. It was hard enough for me to break away from Mom and sister, but now I have to figure out how to love my children and grandson, without being a constant target.
    Scientists really need to figure out exactly what gene, or brain abnormality, causes this. If narcissists keep passing their demon seed to generation after generation, the world is going to be a horrible place for everyone!

    • I believe it’s genetic. A gene. It’s too absurd to think parenting alone creates this disorder. Also. The fact they don’t ever change clearly indicates a pathology disorder in the brain that is not fixable . I also suspect maybe vaccines are harming human genetics. Because there’s been a rapid increase of narcissism and also much more vaccines as well. So something may be getting mutated. I also suspect that perhaps our entire human race and how and why we are here has been hidden from us. It’s like a creature was inbred with humans and this creature is responsible for this gene being passed down. Many millions of years ago. it’s too obvious how it runs in families and that indicates to me it’s genetic. And it’s apparent that even normal healthy upbringing can still create a narcissist. I think scientists are keeping secrets. They do know what it is. They just aren’t saying. It’s become worse in the world as there are more and more now. So something is causing this. If the entire human race is from two seeds, that means we are all related in some way. Lol. Maybe all this inbreeding is finally catching up. Brain disorders etc. these npd creatures are the worst. This disorder is most vile disorder known to man. Very damaging. I was raised by two narc parents and my mother very evil. My brother is one. I’m not. So somehow I didn’t get the gene. Thank goodness! I would hate to be a narcissist. Awful disorder. so sad they can’t be helped or cured. It’s definitely a brain abnormality in my opinion.

      • For Denise, I know this is three years later but worth a try. I too believe NPD can be genetic. My ex I believe he is and this fits with his ex wife’s account. I need to get help for my child who even at such a young age is showing signs and it scares me to think that no matter how I handle him, he is empty inside so this really hits home. Can we talk?

        • My ex and his mother are with heavy NPD, his father an enabler, his brother and sister are potentially subjects. My 11 year old son sees them relatively little, I got separated when he was 4, but now I am worrying he is showing signs of lack of empathy and discarding. He is selfish, (thought because of single child but maybe not only that) and my biggest aim was to protect him from this family, yet what if he is like them? so scared and self-critical for maybe projecting my fears onto him..

  24. I have been married over 30 years to a husband whom I now believe has narssictic traits and which I believe runs in his family. He had a harsh upbringing with a father who was poison to extent that they stopped talking to each other and never made friends up to his dad’s death. I have throughout our marriage been responsible forbearing all household expenses and any major assets we buy is always put in his name. I have found over the years he picks on my son and now that my son is going out with someone keeps running her down to my son. When he gets a bee in his bonnet he can run people down and there is no arguing with him as he is always right. Lately he is getting worse with my son to the extent my son is considering moving out even though he is still studying. After reading all the comments above I am now considering leaving him as he will never change but I know I have a major fight on my hands. I agree they definitely will keep passing this to future generations I think my daughter my have the gene although not as severe

  25. For the answer, all one has to do is look at CODEPENDENTS. Most codependents — who were raised by narcissists — go back and forth between caretaking and being narcissistic, depending upon the nature of the relationship they happen to be in at any given time.

    Also, if it were purely genetic there wouldn’t be countless cases of narc parents grooming the “golden child” to be a narc. If it were merely genetic, the child would have been that way from birth — NATURALLY.

    Bottom line: Narcissism is a CHOICE.

    I read a lot of comments from PARENTS on here who are trying to assuage their own guilt — because their children turned out to be narcs — by blaming Mother Nature.

  26. Well, reading all the comments and posts I’ve realised it is a huge risk to have kids. People talking of Aunties having it, grandmothers, cousins and than there kids having it. To big a risk for me.

    I’m so glad I live in a time when these things are starting to be studied. It would have been very hard to cope without the knowledge, and reading regularly people’s stories to help me to remember to keep my distance. Especially as many people don’t believe you, and just say ‘there charismatic and just like to talk about themselves a lot, it could be worse,’ lol. People don’t like to believe bad things are happening in families that they know.

    Oh well. Best of luck to everyone on here, keeping fighting the good fight and be kind to yourselves.

  27. Hi Alexander,
    My father, brother and sister are all Narcassists. My mother is relatively normal, besides being probably emotionally drained. She is highly emotional ( understandably). My parents are divorced and I was raised mostly by my mum, with my brother and sister. Pretty much, I’m scared to have kids. Im scared they will be NPD. Could you ever do a test on say the one normal child out of three to determine the likellyhood of there kids having NPD? I mean 2/3 kids having this disorder when one parent has NPD is so high. I believe you’ve got the figure right too!

    if the kid without it has kids how many of them could potentially have it? when I was young I really wanted kids, it was my dream really. I think I’ve just been so scarred by my expriences with family, and the thought my child could turn out like them is as big a diterant as you could have. All these people do is spread misery.

    Anyway, I’d love to hear back from anybody on this! What’s the likellyhood my future children could have this disorder?


  28. Thank you for the article. I spent many years in marriage and after divorce, thinking I was defective in some way but could never put a finger on it. Confusion, fear of saying or doing the ‘wrong’ thing, fear of being more successful, having more friends than my husband, fear of being hit, neglected; fear of his ‘trips’ away and silences, indecision, procrastination, fear of judgement by his friends who thought I was a bit odd and so it goes. I experienced coldness, distance, indifference. It was like living with a cardboard cutout who knew the right words to say but something was missing.
    I couldn’t connect with my children or friends as I desired and doctors I consulted put me on medications which simply created an invisible barrier between me and reality. Counsellors told me I was bored and to resume studying and get another degree to keep my mind occupied! Others told me I was a jealous wife. It was only recently….after 25 years of marriage and 12 years after separation that someone loaned me a book, saying, ‘I think you should read this. It sounds like your life.’ My life it was…..married to a covert narcissist. I’ve read a great deal since and now I SEE and UNDERSTAND for the first time and clarity,calmness and connection are in my life. My husband was one of two children. He was the golden haired boy, receiving much more in life, favours, love, attention and support than his sister who the father sexually abused until she was about nine or ten years old, when she finally informed on him. She was then made the ‘bad’ child as her mother opted to protect her husband in favour of her daughter. This, of course, only elevated my former husband’s position in the family as the favoured one. Although the family environment was a powerful influence in my former husband’s case, I do wonder about genetics as his mother displays many narcissistic traits and does my father and one of my siblings.

  29. Therapy is the only real treatment and we all know, they do not think there is anything wrong with them, so, they refuse to go.
    I went to therapy for 2 years.
    He knows they will unveil his hidden illness.

    There is no choice but to leave these psychopaths.
    I am not living in fear another moment.

  30. Bof my parents are diagnosed narcissists. Mom is overt, sadistic and histrionic while my dad is covert. I’m 53 now and learned about my parents’ issues at 12 tears old. My then prychologist told me to be as independent as possible and not use my parents as role models. So I worked on that, stayed in therapy throughout my adult life, to keep myself from becoming a narcissist, my biggest fear. have PTSD, clinical depression and anxiety but I never was diagnosed with narcissism. I have empathy, unlike my parents. I think that keeping myself away from them off and on through the years. They are mean, controlling people and I was their scapegoat but I went no contact and it’s hard but I know it was the right thing to do.
    I think I got the depression and anxiety from my parents, as both of them have these problems too. But I have educated myself am not too proud to take meds, which help. I feel calm most of 5he tme unless I am triggered. Therapy and being vigilant about my issues has really helped me. My self esteem is still lousy but I know how to be happy now. Life goes on.

  31. I believe my son to be narcissistic to the point he refuses to believe he has done no wrong but clearly has made really bad choices.Is this consistent with this disorder?

    • Their blame-shifting creates defensiveness. Then they belittle the defensiveness: “Why are you so angry?”
      Since they shift blame so well & seamlessly, your guilt/insecurity issues stay raw and over-sensitive.
      They lend you a hand up, then subtlety cut off at the knees to keep you indebted & coming back.
      They give you a metaphorical rug & then keep pulling it out from under you
      They are: blowhards, braggarts, blusterers, brow-beaters, bullies, big-headed, and ultimately bogus.
      They can help you gain certain skills/info/connections, but then forever make you feel beholden to them.
      They are extremely skilled at making anyone under their influence crave their approval.
      They make you feel special & then emotional distance themselves in ways that keep you unsure of yourself.
      They use a judgmental “you’re OK”/”you’re not OK” yo-yoing to keep you off-balance & “blameworthy.”
      They groom people via manipulation
      (charm/rage combo) to sell their reality/rationalizations to others.
      Early emotional trauma freezes their worldview at that age,making them immature, impatient, inconsiderate.

  32. Our daughter is a narcissist just like all my blood relatives on my mother’s side as well as my siblings. My brother is a textbook psychopath who started fires and tortured animals as a child. My father was normal and nice albeit an enabler to my abusive narc mother.

    We gave our child a nice childhood and we never saw any issues. Later in adulthood we saw her discard people but she was still nice to us and we remained super close. Then she discarded us without any warning or consideration when she reinvented herself. Looking back I can see how she used us for money and to run her household but we didn’t think anything pathological regarding it. Finally she treated us just like she treated other people she no longer had a use for. Saying we felt hurt about it unleashed a rage and course of punishments taht we were not prepared for. We still love her, but cannot unsee what we have seen. So we love her but now have no expectation that she loves us. It’s uncanny that the older our child gets the more I see my mother’s mannerisms and behaviors in her. Even the way she speaks sounds more like my mother and sister.

    I think when you raise a narcissist with love and respect they may reflect that back to you for many years. When they decided to have a family on their own things change and sometimes for the worse. They can leave their spouse without warning, or take up with another narcissist, or just decide they don’t need you or other family members anymore. Then you see the real person inside.

  33. I believe that there is a genetic predisposition for narcissism. Narcissism is complicated and has many variables. For example, there is healthy narcissism and unhealthy narcissism.

    The unhealthy form usually manifests itself in Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). There is no cure for NPD and generally narcissists are highly resistant to therapy or change.

  34. This is my most interesting read so far about narcissism. i have researhed and read tons about narcissism these past 2 years to try to make sense out of what happened to me and my relationship with my ex. They all act thesame and we all have similar stories To tell. This could not just be coincidence. The rages, affairs, lying, selfishness, no remorse, no accountability, assuming to be the victim, reckless behaviors and many other traits. Ex has three brothers. Their dad was a womanizer. Ex told me that there were ocassions wherein he would go with mom looking around for dad in the company of women. On her desperation and on her belief that she was probably not meeting the needs of her husband and blamed herself for it, mother in law told me how she allowed the husband to get on with another woman, and even picked an underwear for him to wear if he sleeps with the other woman. She is constantly trying to please him. Ex told me that dad was very picky with food that mom had to cook a separate dish for him each time. There were many fights according to my sis in laws with mom trying to walk away but always relented because of the 6 kids. Husband is a golden child born while mom in law was premenopausal. Eldest brother was physically and verbally abusive to wife. His wife used to have a good paying job which attracted him in some ways until she lost it and had since Been a plain housewife. Wife died early from many illnesses and i believe it was exacerbated by all the heartaches she suffered from the husband. You see, there is nothing good in staying and sticking with the narcissist hoping eventually they will change. The stress is compounding that it will eventualy caught up with you and before you know it, you are the one getting sicker and sicker from all the mental torture and heartaches. Your body will wear out as he sucks your energy out and drained you physically and mentally. We always thought there was something wrong with sis in law, acted weird and is often criticized on how she kept repeating what shes saying over and over again during conversation. Family sort of just laughed about it. After a while someone mentioned to me that her attitude was a sign of abuse. I heard from sis in law that during his wife’s memorial, the brother talked about himself all throughout the ceremony, never acknowledging the sacrifices that the wife did to the family. Second brother is also verbally abusive to wife. She used to be the major breadwinner of the family. When all the kids are grown and left home, the husband started work out of state, wife followed along, gave up her job and dedicated her time serving him, catering to his whims and wishes and relegated herself to just being the perfect wife. Her FB status and postings show a perfect relationship and all their trips together. Recently wife came back and stayed with married son to start work as she is running out of money(pulled hr 401k). Her husband told her to start work so she can pay her bills. She does not get any money from husband since he told her, she can stay free in the house while she cared for him and in her own words, be his “sex slave”. Wife goes away too long and he does not care. Their daughter in law keeps wondering wondering why won’t she find a job where the husband is since she’s a nurse and can easily find a job anywhere and they both are on their way to retirement. the wife confided that the husband is always calling her names, criticizing her and is always mad at her. Like really verbally abusive. He looked more stable financially now compared to her but is not likely to share this with the wife. He is not to share any of her wife’s financial woes after being dependent on her for many years that she was the breadwinner while the kids were in school. Like my ex, it looks like the husband has saved and planned his own retirement without her in the equation. The wife is also acting strange nowadays. Spaced out during conversation and having impulsive decisions. All of these three men have anger issues, are verbally abusive and carried affairs. They all look charming, friendly and funny to other people. They are all like their dad in so many ways. When my ex started to act out, his sister said, “he is like dad”. At first, i also thought its how they were raiseD but now i am inclined to believe too that it is genetic and hereditary for the most part. I also believe in the part where the emotional needs of the child are not met even with the abused parent as she spent her energy and attention pleasing the narcissist and Being happy and content with the occasional crumbs he thows at her. They make us feel that our world revolve around them. The only way to break this abuse that we let on ourselves is run away and never look back. They won’t change and it is true. My ex and his brothers are several years apart and you’d think the the older ones have been softer as they age, Not at all. They are worse as they age. They are angrier, meaner and self absorbed as they age. It has been two years and the more i educate myself is the more i come to acceptance and realization that life is so much better without them. You can start to enjoy people and friends and things you have taken for granted all those years that you were in oblivion on why you can’t make them happy and contented. Believe me, once they are out of the picture, you can see that the world is really beautiful, there are nice and real people around us and you will never give a chance to anybody hurting you that way again. You will be happy while he is constantly and forever angry and miserable without his narcissistic fill. Good thing is you are not there anymore to be blamed for his unhappiness and suck in all his negativities.

  35. I read some of these reviews and also have 2 children from 2 different fathers. I believe my son to have NPD to an extreme.This is the older of the 2 children. His father passed away 11 years ago(he was a drug addict and alcoholic) I have coped with him for nearly 17 years but the suffering my younger child and I have dealt with is unbelievable. I knew there was something wrong with him from a young age but counseling has been no help..he was kicked out of 10+ daycares….he was sent to a special school in first grade. He has destroyed homes,cars etc..and also people. I’m in counseling as is my younger son..i have so much sorrow and don’t know what to do except try to get through the next year and 2 months with as little damage as possible. One day at a time..i would like to hear from someone who goes through the same thing..with a child you can’t just leave

  36. I believe it’s like the article says: there is a genetic predisposition to NPD and the environment can activate the gene. I have read accounts where some people are able to overcome nature through therapy and/or having genuinely loving and caring people in their lives. It’s also important to note that sometimes society rewards self-centered behavior (e.g. reality t.v. participants who make lots of money from being self centered) so the environment can encourage narcissistic tendencies.

    There are many comments from parents saying it’s all nature, but one has to wonder if narc behavior was in the least observed by the child at some point in addition to being genetically predisposed to NPD. Children may see it from a parent, classmate, some adult, pop culture, etc. (we encounter many people throughout our lives) and children may do as they see. We also have to wonder what experiences the child has outside of home. For example bullying in school that they don’t tell the parent about. It’s not all about the parent who did everything “right,” there could be something the child went through that they won’t talk about or have repressed that activated the gene.

  37. It’s worth noting (contra the remark by SmartestOne) that even strongly genetically controlled traits are not always present from birth – eg baldness, some heart diseases or neurological disorders. Genes always work by interactions with the rest of the body and the rest of the environment – eg if there is no food or oxygen, then none of the genetic traits will be expressed; if a haemophiliac never suffers a wound, they may never discover that they are haemophiliac. For genetically controlled behaviours and predispositions the situation is very difficult to pin down because of the complex interactions between genes and the environment. The “gold standard” in such studies – as described in this article – are twin studies, in particular of twins raised apart and therefore in somewhat different environments. However, some traits – and narcissism is a good example – can create their own environment, eg of stressed and compliant people around the affected individual. This is an added dimension of complexity to resolving the degree and mechanisms of the genetic control of such personality characteristics.

  38. i am in the process of trying to work through my own narc behaviors … its not easy lemme tell you but what sucks is i am married to one that isnt able to see his yet and i truly dont want to leave knowing how it can rip the soul from him and i told him last night even that … i will be ok if i leave but he will never be able to be in a healthy relationship if he cant see it and work towards fixing it … ugh this is beyond hard some days … sorry just had to vent there i had a horribly tough day

    • Do not waste your breath on your husband, he will not hear you if he is a true narcissist. And you cannot be a true narcissist if you admit to faults.

  39. This has made an interesting read, I’m a psychology student myself, and have grown up with a narcissistic single mother, however it’s only in the last few months I’ve realised that my grandmother is too a narcissist. I have massive issues with my brother, and my mum claims this is because I feel he ruined my life, when in reality it’s because he’s just too young to fight against the parental figures and constantly seeks their approval, he’s only 9 so it’s completely understandable. I desperately want to cut contact to save myself as soon as I move out by the end of the year, but am terrified of what will happen to my brother if I leave him alone with them as he has undiagnosed autism

  40. As a previous “supply” of being married to a narcissist and having to deal with his parents after the separation, I truly believe that it is genetic, and it makes sense that it comes out when raised by a narcissist. The lies, the gas lighting, the “crazy-making”, and the aftermath of the ‘previous supply”, two years after separating. His mother was also a sociopath and I think his father is an enabler, if not as much of a sociopath. I have a whole true story if you want more details, during my marriage, and during our separation since we have 3 children together. Feel free to contact me.

    • I am interested to hear your stories during your marriage and separation from a narcissist. Through sharing your experience with me I know it will educate me more as I am too is married to a narcissist.

  41. I’m sure there must be genetics involved.
    My mother was what you would now call a typical malignant, sadistic narcissist. My father was the opposite. A laid back, philosophical person who just tried to ignore all the fuzz. An enabler they would call him now.
    They got 7 children. We all lived the same mother and father. We all lived the same ‘hell’.
    My father commited suicide when I was 19. Most of my siblings were younger at the time.
    Remarkebly after the suicide of my father there was a markable shift in reactions. Four of my siblings sided with my mother and 3 of them with my father (including me).

    Notibly those four which sided with my mother also look like my mother the most physically.
    And the other 3 look much more like my father in apperance and character.

    Those other four siblings have all strong narcisstic traits and we 3 don’t have that need at all.
    I’m quite sure it must be genetic.


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