What Causes Narcissism in Teens?

Teens can be selfish and think they know more than their friends or parents, but there’s a difference between confidence and narcissism. Narcissism can be an offshoot of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is typified by a longstanding pattern of grandiose superiority, lack of empathy towards others and an extreme need for admiration and attention.

Signs of NPD include:

  • Over-the-top sense of self-importance
  • Lack of empathy
  • Envy towards others
  • Strong sense of entitlement
  • Arrogance or snobbiness

Narcissism is a less extreme version of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissistic people have similar traits as those with NPD, including cockiness, a sense of entitlement, vanity, and a power complex. You can be narcissistic without having a personality disorder.


Image Source: 王 寶弟

There are different theories as to what causes narcissism. One theory is that it’s a learned behavior, either from parents who put their kids on a pedestal and give them an extreme sense of self-importance or from parents who neglect their kids, forcing them to feel like they have to prove their importance to the parent. Another factor that comes into play is how a person handles stress; narcissists might convince themselves (and others) that they are bigger than their stressors, giving them a false sense of invincibility.

Narcissism cannot be cured but it can be treated and managed through therapy. A narcissistic person needs to improve their self-esteem in healthy ways and stop feeding their false-sense of importance that might be igniting their narcissism. By cultivating healthy relationships with others and realizing their self-worth for what it is, a narcissist can become more than just their ego.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder needs to be diagnosed by a medical professional. If you or your teen has a personality disorder or is narcissistic, consult your family doctor or a counsellor or therapist for more information on diagnosis and therapy options.

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