When people think of narcissists or people with narcissistic personality disorder, they might think that these individuals exude self-confidence and have nothing but love for themselves.
Narcissists can be portrayed like the famous American Psycho character Patrick Bateman, a millionaire played by handsome actor Christian Bale.
However, there are certain things to understand about the root cause of narcissism, and how it relates to someone’s view of themselves.
While narcissists might not have themselves, they do have egos that are highly sensitive to the validation of others.
Their self-esteem is dependent on others, meaning that it can, at any time, wane away due to the refusal of others to give in to their demands for attention and validation.
What Is a Narcissist?
If you’ve ever spent a little too long getting ready for a night out and looking in front of a mirror, your friends might have said you were narcissistic for doing so.
However, narcissism is far more complex than simply loving the way you look or needing attention every now and again.
Narcissists actually have a personality disorder known as narcissistic personality disorder or NPD for short.
Narcissistic personality disorder can be characterized by various signs, including:
- Talking over others and talking about themselves
- Disobeying laws or boundaries for their personal gain
- Need for validation in order to improve their ego
- Need for others to know they are indeed the best
- Inability to feel guilt for negative behaviors and actions done unto others
- Manipulative behavior to get what they want
- Putting others down through belittling comments or even physical, verbal, and emotional abuse to make themselves feel more powerful
From these signs, it’s easy to see how much more different having NPD is than simply being a little bit conceited or looking at a mirror too long.
The defining trait of someone with NPD is their need to feel superior, their need to remind others of their superiority, and their need to have others constantly validate that superiority through comments and actions.
What Causes Narcissism?
Although people with NPD might seem evil, and in fact, some people with NPD end up having difficulty with long-term relationships and controlling their abusive behavior, it’s also important to note that NPD is a disorder.
Some of the causes of NPD have very real ties to:
- Genetics – people with NPD cannot control the fact that they develop narcissistic traits, no matter how difficult it may be to understand and contrary to the beliefs of others
- Childhood trauma, which can cause someone to have low self-esteem and therefore turn to developing narcissistic traits and needing validation in order to heal from that childhood trauma
- Environmental factors – growing up around parents that were narcissistic or having friends that encouraged this type of behavior might make people with NPD think it’s okay to treat others with disrespect in order to validate their feelings
- Hypersensitivity – people with NPD might be more prone to feeling emotions a lot worse than they truly are, to no fault of their own
Why Show Empathy?
Knowing these causes of narcissism can make it easier for people to feel empathy for both people with NPD and the people that fall victim to them.
NPD cannot be controlled at times. In addition, these people might be suffering from childhood trauma, which can take years of self-care, self-improvement, and therapy in order to fully heal.
Knowing that people with NPD are not in fact monsters but are simply acting out the childhood they had and inflicting that onto others, can make it easier to understand that yes, people with NPD do not have grandiose self-esteem.
In fact, their self-esteem is fully dependent on the validation of others.
Things That Might Trigger Self-Hate in Narcissistic People
Knowing this, it’s easier to understand what might trigger someone who has narcissistic personality disorder to develop a sense of self-hatred toward themselves. These include:
Not Being Validated
When a person has narcissistic personality disorder, they tend to talk over others and even lie and manipulate others in order to gain someone’s trust, gain a sense of longing from another person, and boost their self-confidence.
One of the worst things a narcissist can experience is the refusal of someone to validate them or give them any type of attention.
For instance, if you are in an abusive relationship with someone who has NPD, they might begin to throw fits and become angry when you do not reciprocate their demands for attention and love.
This can be so important to a narcissist, that they’ll say anything to get you to believe them or validate them, such as lie to you about having an affair.
The truth is people who are narcissistic need you to love them and continue to provide them the satisfaction of knowing they are superior above all other things.
Again, remember that this might not be because a person is evil, but it could be because they have unresolved trauma.
The best thing to do is walk away from someone who is narcissistic and still needs to deal with their emotions through therapy and other care methods.
Whether it’s in a relationship, as a supervisor at a company, or even as a business owner, one thing that could also trigger feelings of self-hatred in a narcissist is losing control.
The more control a narcissist has, the more power they feel they have over a person, business, or group of people.
The truth is that these people in power have no real leadership skills and might only want to have control to feel validated and superior.
Losing control of someone who has been abused and is now choosing to walk away from a relationship, a child that has now become aware of their parent’s narcissism, or even a group of staff that is no longer willing to put with a narcissistic boss can all increase the feelings of hostility and self-hate someone with NPD.
Being Laughed At
If you’ve ever had a conversation with a narcissist, you’ll notice they love to talk over you and talk about themselves extensively.
Try laughing or calling out one of their lies mid-conversation and you might just come face to face with a hostile and hurt version of someone with NPD.
What to Do with Signs of Self-Harm or Suicide
Whether someone or not has NPD or another type of personality disorder or is free of these types of traits, one thing is certain – no one deserves to live a life where they hate themselves or even contemplate suicide.
If you or someone you know is engaging in thoughts of self-harm, self-hatred, and thoughts of suicide, follow these steps:
- Reach out to a friend. If you need help processing your emotions but don’t have a therapist on hand, a friend or family member can be a good resource to use.
- Reach out to a therapist, who can help provide therapy and interventions to help you get the mental health help you need.
- Call 911 in case of an emergency. If your plan is imminent and the thoughts of suicide are strong, make sure to reach out to emergency services for help.