October 15


Is Narcissism Hereditary, Acquired, or Epigenetic? (Diathesis-Stress Models)

By heheals

October 15, 2020

Recently, it is increasingly suggested that pathological narcissism is the outcome of heredity (genes) or an epigenetically determined expression of genes, including in brain abnormalities. Diathesis-Stress Models and Differential Susceptibility Hypotheses are used to attempt to account for NPD.

What causes us to question the consensus regarding narcissism since 1915?

Pathological narcissism is a life-long pattern of traits and behaviours which signify infatuation and obsession with one’s self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one’s gratification, dominance and ambition.

As distinct from healthy narcissism which we all possess, pathological narcissism is maladaptive, rigid, persisting, and causes significant distress, and functional impairment.

Pathological narcissism was first described in detail by Freud in his essay “On Narcissism” (1915). Other major contributors to the study of narcissism are: Melanie Klein, Karen Horney, Franz Kohut, Otto Kernberg, Theodore Millon, Elsa Roningstam, Gunderson, and Robert Hare.

Pathological narcissism is a reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. The source of the abuse or trauma is immaterial – the perpetrators could be parents, teachers, other adults, or peers. Pampering, smothering, spoiling, and “engulfing” the child are also forms of abuse.

To identify the role of heredity, researchers have resorted to a few tactics: they studied the occurrence of similar psychopathologies in identical twins separated at birth, in twins and siblings who grew up in the same environment, and in relatives of patients (usually across a few generations of an extended family).

Tellingly, twins – both those raised apart and together – show the same correlation of personality traits, 0.5 (Bouchard, Lykken, McGue, Segal, and Tellegan, 1990). Even attitudes, values, and interests have been shown to be highly affected by genetic factors (Waller, Kojetin, Bouchard, Lykken, et al., 1990).

A review of the literature demonstrates that the genetic component in certain personality disorders (mainly the Antisocial and Schizotypal) is strong (Thapar and McGuffin, 1993). Nigg and Goldsmith found a connection in 1993 between the Schizoid and Paranoid personality disorders and schizophrenia.

The three authors of the Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology (Livesley, Jackson, and Schroeder) joined forces with Jang in 1993 to study whether 18 of the personality dimensions were heritable. They found that 40 to 60% of the recurrence of certain personality traits across generations can be explained by heredity: anxiousness, callousness, cognitive distortion, compulsivity, identity problems, oppositionality, rejection, restricted expression, social avoidance, stimulus seeking, and suspiciousness. Each and every one of these qualities is associated with a personality disorder. In a roundabout way, therefore, this study supports the hypothesis that personality disorders are hereditary.

This would go a long way towards explaining why in the same family, with the same set of parents and an identical emotional environment, some siblings grow to have personality disorders, while others are perfectly “normal”. Surely, this indicates a genetic predisposition of some people to developing personality disorders.

Still, this oft-touted distinction between nature and nurture may be merely a question of semantics.

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  1. Is it true that first borns become co-dependents, and last born are narcissistic, does the birth order have an impact on narcissism? Also does being an only child make the probability of narcissism higher due to being over pampered?

  2. Sam: Could narcissism be a result of the fight/flight response becoming permanently engaged due to childhood trauma? That response reduces control by the frontal lobes in favour of instinctive reactions for reasons of speed in response to a stressful situation.

  3. Both of my parents had their addictions, but I don’t. Admittedly, I pushed hard against it at various stages of life. But I’m so curious how I did that. And why, aside from the obvious interest of self preservation even despite teenage rage at my lot in life.

  4. US public schools are out here teaching us to Do-si-do, Promenade and swing our partner round n' round …. I wish schools would touch deeper on topics like this. 🙌 Absolutely fascinating and necessary.

  5. I have great joy in me as I am writing this testimony about the great man called Dr. Murugu When my lover left me I never taught that I will be able to get him back after all he has put me through, But I am so happy that after the interference of Dr. Murugu I was able to get my lover back after 48hours and I can proudly to say, that whoever needs help in getting there lover back should contact Dr. Murugu on these contact details below (dr.makinidrmurugu@gmail.com)

  6. Yes that “refrigerator mother” label was directed towards the mother of Temple Grandir upon whom a film is based , it is fascinating, The mother refused the doctors accusations and instead went on to see that her autistic daughter was educated. Temple then went on to university and eventually became famous for designing and developing a revolutionary system for the treatment of cattle in agriculture. She was recognised and won awards for this, despite the abysmal early prognosis which her mother thankfully had the confidence to rail against. During her time in university she designed a “ cattle crush” specifically to soothe her when she was emotionally overwhelmed and deregulated, she kept this is her room, and it was at some point discovered and discarded by the u over sixty authorities. Being “held” in this crush is something l think many can relate to as a way of holding and calming in a safe way which doesn’t require the precariousness of human contact when intense emotions overwhelm. Good film is anyone is interested. “ Temple Grandir “

  7. Will you do a video on what happens when a narcissist dates a psychopath? I know you have talked about it briefly in other videos. I am interested to know more about how the narcissist interprets the psychopath in dating. Does it cause narcissistic injury when they are unable to get an emotional reaction from the psychopath? Would a narcissist discard a psychopath for not providing any supply? Or does the narcissist become trauma bonded to the psychopath in the same way that partners of narcissists get trauma bonded to the narcissist?

  8. Adding something to this fine lecture means shipping containers of owls to Athens in my humble layman opinion. So i show my gratitude with spontaneous invented joke:
    I consider the insane doctrine of mono causality the single root of all evil in the human mind and behavior and therefore human history.
    Merci mille fois, maître.

  9. Hmm ..im told i have TBI and PTSD ..i struggle alot and am always drawn to those who hurt me alot or abandon humiliate and shame me yet once i figure outand process whats going on i will fight like mad with boundaries to get myself protected and safe again .a man i dated for a short time started out very kind the short after i was always punishes for everthing when i process all that was wrong and i cut off relationship and blcked calls and texts he recently contacted from a differnt cell phone saying he was a rivercom 911 disbatch officer its getting bad he never gives up ..somethijg not right i think deeper than narcissism ..he recentsend pics of a shovel and said he dug hole in his back yard …hes afraid of no one and would constantly complain and critizing and humilate and shame others for almost anything .i just never been with someone like this ..He bosses and tells everyone how to live and what to do and name calling and threats ..and yet i feel sorry for him but i dont want be with him very scary to me

  10. Like my father, I have become a covert narcissist. Is there any realistic hope or work that can be done to change so that I can have healthy loving relationships with other people? Thank you in advanced. I hope there is more information on this or perhaps a video that you will scold me for not researching.

  11. I’m the scapegoat of 5 children and the youngest, called the second mistake by my mother, I believe that I’m the only 1 to escape their narcissism and I have 3 children and believe 2 have narcissism and my youngest some form of high functioning autism but with so many narcissist in our lives it’s hard to impossible for me to get him help because of the family and me being the scapegoat and in their eyes the problem and blamed . I was mostly a single parent and my mother became like the second parent…….I have never met a narcissist without another close by . I’m wondering if because I’m the scapegoat is how I escaped.

  12. It's a shame I couldn't of met up with you when you was in Bolton I have adhd and I don't have empathy for anyone i just care about myself tbh I don't get upset when someone dies in the family I know you will all judge me tho

  13. How would you define the difference between Aspiebergers from Autism. I heard of refrigerator mother, that sounds like how High Socialite Model Child Doris Duke described how her Dysfuctional relationship with her mother was. Doris's mother quoted she would" be cursed" by the families origins of wealth, so she carried bouts of Dark Gloom an Doom of guilt through out her life. She had a seprartists view of disconnect from the other Socialite Familes she was groomed to except and get along with no matter what the Elite Famalies were like which she disconnected from which she was considered in some Elite circles as being an Blacklisted Outcast which I find comical. She was was a poster child of true go to the Beat of Her own Drum. I would say her own Symphony and Orchrasta. She wasn't going to be Manipulated by the other Elite Groups yarn. Ya- Who for those Moxie Moves. I wish the little slave people of the world could have those taut moves especially towards Mogules like the Behimeths Amazon ,Wal-Mart and The Like. Only in your Dreams. Doris. D also had Daddy's little girl disorder because of her father's business and

    absence and with his passivity.Was giving objects, things instead of healthy bonding. My understanding everyone on this planet has their own Level Form of Handicap because we're not Perfect. Basis on
    denial if You Hide it, Can't identify it, Except it ,No Conscious of, Possesed by, Run from it, or were Serverely Born With. The 7 fates. I don't know where Crazy and Genius Gather' With no apologies in all this it's quit a wildcat. Almost how the very wealthy are.. Little copycat kids are just a massive society clones learning watching Your High Superior Peers on the Peaks of Worldly Molested Corrupt Gain. Are semi to blame far from it all, but it strategically influences the masses could say that's one of the beasts of burden in the gain game dysfuction in society. Economic Psychology You could prove Stress ,
    Unbalaced Hunger,Lawlessness, Proverty, Evil Incentatives, Intentions. School System Breakdown, Schools that offer more than other Ciities Schools to Dead End Jobs.

  14. Thanks Mr. Vaknin. I've often wondered about the nature/nurture question as it relates to NPD. My father is a textbook case and my sister is just like him (Guess which one of us got the scapegoat treatment?🤣).

    Despite substantially worse treatment I turned out normal and my sister just got worse with time, but as far back as I can remember she always exhibited narcissistic traits.

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