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Narcissism and Attachment Theories

Updated: Jul 31, 2022

I talk about attachment styles often in my articles, attachment being the initial rapport we establish as infants with our main career, those very roots that will lay the path of our future personal relations, behaviours, choices and how we relate to others. During the first two years, how the parents or caregivers respond to their infants, particularly during times of distress, establishes the types of patterns of attachment their children form. These patterns will go on to guide the child’s feelings, thoughts and expectations as an adult in future relationships.

When early attachment objects are inconsistent, abusive, or neglectful, the developing individual needs a psychological mechanism which allows them to escape the conflict between the need for reaching out to the adult and the dread of being rejected, following these patterns of behaviour defence mechanisms may then develop. So what Narcissism really differentiate from other behaviours?

One school of thought is that narcissism is a result of arrested development, in which the person remains fixated at an infantile or very young age and only manifests in terms of their wants and needs. Emotional abuse can slowly creep up upon an otherwise healthy, innocent target, only to overwhelm the abused person’s sense of reality, self-confidence, over time.

While a power of grandiose sense of self importance and arrogance, a need for a excessive admiration ad sense of entitlement are a few components of a Narcissist and their display of behaviour, beneath the surface they also suffer fear of exposure, mood dysregulation, and fragility of self. Studies of attachment, such as Insecure attachment is a risk factor in development of personality disorder, clinical evidence support the studies of those effected developmental areas of the front limbic part of the brain.

The link with early childhood adversity and the experience as development of disorganised attachement lead to a dramatic failure to recognise emotions, processing feelings and the experience of emotions, especially social emotions such as cooperation and contrition behaviours, personal boundaries, power control over social and interpersonal relationships.

Narcissists are deficient in feeling deep emotions, such as longing and sadness, and in relationships with others, they may experience feelings of indifference. The deep emotions narcissists feel is most often those that relate to personal ego-injuries.

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