10 Adult Behaviors of Someone Who Was Raised By Narcissists

10 Adult Behaviors of Someone Who Was Raised By Narcissists



“Often, children of narcissists are overly-sensitive, deeply insecure, unable to see themselves as good, worthy and lovable.” ~ Kathy Caprino

What is narcissism?

The Mayo Clinic describes narcissism in the context of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD):

“Narcissitic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

A therapist’s experience

Kathy Caprino, an author,  life coach, licensed marriage and family therapist, and former corporate executive, has seen her fair share of narcissists.



“I saw firsthand (that) adult children of narcissists can live their whole lives (unless they get help to heal and overcome it) thinking they’re not good enough, and seeking validation and recognition at every turn, yet never feeling they get it.”


Oh, and Caprino – not so surprisingly, perhaps – met a few narcissists in the corporate world.

“One example was a supervisor, who, on the day of the 9/11 attacks, went around the office pretending to care about how the employees were feeling, when in fact, he was completely devoid of feeling … if you watched his eyes and his “affect” as he spoke to grieving and frightened people, you’d see clearly that he felt absolutely nothing…”

The child’s brain

A young child learns from what they see and hear.

Lacking critical thinking skills, a kindergartener exposed to violence may walk into a classroom and – without a moment’s hesitation – whack some poor classmate in the face. When asked “Why?,” the kid may say something along the lines of, “I say my (mom/dad/brother/sister) do it.”

The extremely impressionable nature of a child’s mind can be explained using just two facts:


(1) A child’s brain is 80 percent formed by the time they’re four.

(2) 95 percent of our subconscious is programmed by age six.

Most of the who, what, when, where, why decisions – even well into our adult years –  are almost entirely influenced by this subconscious information.

In other words, the“forgotten years” can profoundly influence who we become. Sadly, this is terrible news for children of narcissistic parents.

Now Imagine…

Being the child of one (sometimes two) people who:

– Believes they are “special” and unique and can only be understood by (other) special or high-status people.

–  Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited beauty, power, or success.


– Always needs to be the center of attention.

– Has an extreme sense of entitlement.

– Exploits and takes advantage of others to achieve their ends.

– Has a complete lack of empathy.

– Is excessively arrogant and self-righteous.

(The first question that comes to this writer’s mind is “Why in the hell would such a person procreate in the first place?”)



Let’s discuss some common thoughts and behaviors of those who had the misfortunate of being raised by a narcissist.

Here are ten:

1. They’re isolated and rejected

Feelings of isolation and rejection are felt by children of narcissists early on. While the child’s higher-level thinking processes aren’t yet mature, they are capable of intuitively grasping that they’re emotionally deprived.

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