Psychology Reveals What Makes A Narcissist Change (Or Not)

Psychology Reveals What Makes A Narcissist Change (Or Not)

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If you’ve ever been involved or related to a manipulative person, do you often wonder what makes a narcissist change? Many believe that these people are lock into a pattern of unsavory qualities that they can never alter. Some experts think that once this person is set into their devious ways, there’s no changing them.

The narcissist is hard to deal with on a good day. They like to dominate the conversations as well as make outlandish demands to gain attention. They will lie and manipulate to get ahead in life, and they are not above throwing you under the bus to keep their wrongdoings secret.

If you’re in a relationship or have this person in your family, will all your interaction with them be turbulent? While these people are often painted in dim light, they can have redeeming qualities too. Plus, what makes a narcissist change their ways may be time and their decisions in life.

Does Growth Change Your Personality?

A study brings some hope to those who must deal with these devious people regularly. The University of Mannheim did a study that looked in-depth at the characteristics of the manipulator. This analysis is that so many of today’s youth are presenting with symptoms of a narcissist, and they wanted to track changes.

what makes a narcissist
Researchers want to see if these individuals can turn the spotlight off themselves and focus on others’ needs. Though previous studies have shown that narcissism is more prevalent in today’s society, no one has ever followed these behavioral patterns from childhood through adulthood.



The researchers followed people diagnosed from age 18 through 41. With data collected, they could see if people become less narcissistic overtime or more manipulative. The unique thing about personalities is that they can change as a person learns and grows.

A teenager reaching the threshold of adulthood at 18 will not be or act the same when they are 35 years old. Life’s circumstances and things like their job, family, and friends can play a big part in their personality changes. Are you the same person you were when you reached the magical age of 18?

Of course, you’re not the same. Nobody acts or thinks like they did when they first got out of high school. Though it’s a milestone to graduate and enter the “real world,” there are still many lessons to be learned. Each choice you make helps to define your character as well as mold your personality.

Take, for instance, a person who is hired to make sales. They need to open up and talk to the public to be successful. They learn how to work the crowd to gain customers. This job type can undoubtedly turn a shy person into a more outgoing one by motivating them with money.



A Study of Temperament Alterations

Using this basis, the researchers wanted to see if these people’s life choices helped further or hinder their personality development. The research used 519 people, a mix of male and female, to measure their narcissism. The evaluators looked deeply at the life events that had occurred in each person’s life. Things measured were:

•Marriages and serious relationships

•New job or career paths

•Health problems



•Serious injuries

•Loss of friends or loved ones

Participants had to rank these events as they correlated with their life. They were required to mark if it had a positive or negative effect on them. Could these events be what makes a narcissist change?

Time for Self Evaluation

Using the basis for this study, evaluate your life. What events would you say define you as a person? Are you married with children, or have you chosen the single life? Do you have a good job, or have you struggled to make it financially?



Do you have a supportive family unit, or are your friends more relatives to you? All these things can have a significant impact on the way a person acts and reacts to stressors. Someone who has a good support system may experience a loss or financial woes, but they know that they have someone standing behind them.

It makes all the difference in what happens next. Narcissism is a personality disorder that often develops from a deep-seated need for acceptance. This study was about to prove if outlying factors could help someone change these evil and manipulative ways.

A Comprehensive Look at Outlying Factors

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There were many factors on the examination that gave researchers the data they needed. Everyone has things in their life that they cannot control. The study looked at the prestige of each person’s life.

• Job and Career Path

Researchers wanted to know if they had a degree, finished high school, and what type of job they held. Were they respected in their employment and had supervisory responsibilities? Did they bring home a good salary? Each participant then rated their satisfaction in this area of life.

When a person is not satisfied with their job, it can make them miserable. Think about your current position; are you happy with your pay, title, and achieved success? It certainly can be a significant factor in your personality if you must go to a job each day that you loathe.

If a person feels underappreciated, underpaid, and like they’re not living up to their full potential, it’s easy to see how it can take a toll on your temperament.

• Relationships

When considering what makes a narcissist change, relationships were another aspect that they evaluated. Evaluators asked participants about their relationship status. Were they married with children or single parents?

It’s easy to see how this could significantly impact an individual’s personality. Think about your life. If you were in an abusive marriage, it would affect you negatively. However, if you had a partner that doted on you and were your best friend, then your answer would be more favorable.

Researchers need to see if these people were in what they called “an ideal union” or if they were unlucky in love. The single parents who struggle every day aren’t going to answer the same person who has a spouse who handles 50 percent of the load.

• Health

The final part of the evaluation process to see what makes a narcissist change was about health. If you don’t think health can significantly impact your temperament, then ask someone who has had cancer, lupus, or another debilitating condition. When you’re sick and tired all the time, you don’t feel like going out and socializing or keeping your social life hopping.

Another part of the data needed was to see if the people were overweight. Did you know that there are direct links between depression and obesity? Poor body image may be a motivating factor behind the narcissist as they feel they need to compensate for their perceived negative image.

People who have frequent hospital and doctor visits and those on many medications all held important clues into life changes that affect personality.

After giving all these participant details a comprehensive look, the researchers could make an informed opinion. There was a measurable decline in narcissism scores as a person ages. The study shows that this manipulative personality peaks in the early adulthood years, but it seems to lesson as many enter the real world.

People who ranked higher on the narcissism scale held supervisory positions where they had the power to manipulate. People with children didn’t have the vanity issues that those without offspring held. Indeed, child-rearing seems to foster humility.

what makes a narcissist
The Takeaway on A Narcissist’s Ability to Change

The good news from this study is that there is hope if you’re dealing with a manipulative person. It appears that what makes a narcissist change is a good dose of life and a swift kick from the real world. Life has a way of knocking an individual back into reality and giving them new perceptions with each event.

While this may not explain a person who’s 40 or 50 years of age and still acting devious, it certainly gives hope to the younger generation. Another interesting theory is that children tend to be a bit more “self-centered” because they lack the life experiences necessary to humble them.

An 18-year-old fresh out of high school thinks they know it all and are ready to take the world by storm. However, once they learn how scary responsibility can be and pay pills while juggling 100 other things, it has a way of sobering you. With each storm of life comes lessons that you learn.

Life’s events won’t change an authentic personality disorder, but it does help. There’s still the need for therapy and treatment when someone is so manipulative that they destroy the relationships around them. Thankfully, what makes a narcissist change is growing up. So, there’s always hope.



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