Too much praise leads to narcissism?


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We've talked about narcissistic relatives here before. My father was one...big time!
His father died young and he lived mostly with his grandparents who felt he could do no wrong. Later, he lived with his single mom, who I think was afraid he would return to his grandparents, so she never wanted to discipline or correct him. When he got older, he was often grouchy and worse...outright disrespectful to her, but there were never any consequences. He graduated to being abusive and then married and was abusive to his wife (my mother). His mother (my grandmother) knew this, but never said a word, still worried that her son would disown her...instead she always found reason to compliment him for every little thing.

So...studies show too much praise leads to narcissism. Do you think that goes hand and hand with no consequences for inappropriate behaviors?

Why do people do this? Do you think it's getting worse (generally speaking)?

Article I saw...


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I don't think anybody knows what leads to narcissism. I don't believe the study. My dad was demeaned by his parents all his life and is a classic narcissistic. Although he believes that the world revolves around him, he has very poor self-esteem underneath.

I also can't imagine that many parents telling their "snowlflakes" that they are superior to other people.

Although most people will probably think it's getting worse, I don't. I think, just like autism, we know more about it now so we can spot it more readily so more people get diagnosed with it.

This was a very small, limited study.


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I think it's a problem. I saw it a teacher. I definitely believe that children need to be praised when they do something good and they need to live without a lot of unnecessary criticism but I started teaching in 1969 and retired in 2003. During that time there was a definite push to always praise kids more. Considering how things were when I was in school that was probably a good thing but then we reached the point where they pretty much told us that we should never criticize anything and that a child should be praised for everything all day long. Trust me, kids are not stupid. They know if they did something praiseworthy or not. Praising them just for breathing is leading to a bunch of narcissistic, entitled, conceited jerks.
As adults, whether parents or teachers or other, it is our job to help them find themselves in situations where they need to struggle a little but come out on top in the end and then we can praise them and their efforts but the praise thing has gotten entirely out of hand.
I am totally against demeaning kids but I am also totally against false praise. It is good for a child to try and fail. It is OK to say, "Good job; next time you'll do better. You improved from the last time." Whatever...but it is not OK to say, "Oh, that was wonderful!" when it obviously wasn't.
I see SOME parents overpraise kids and I see a LOT of school districts encourage it but it is a disaster.


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Nomad, I have read up on this extensively.
I am referring here to clinical narcissism, but this could possibly apply to children in the school system, because the best theory is one that posits one parent being absent or semi-absent, and the other parent creating too much artificial praise and too much leeway to make up for it. There may be an underlying anxiety disorder that creates an opening for vulnerability. But much of it is created and situational rather than genetic.
So in the case of the school system, the school and teachers are the ones who overdo the praise, to make up for the absent parents.

Just to say that it's "too much praise" is too simplistic. I understand, but I don't fully agree.
It has to go back to HOW the praise is offered, and WHY, and by WHOM.

Otherwise, you have to start splitting hairs between being spoiled and being a bona fide, mentally ill narcissist. Narcissism is a spectrum, like other mental illnesses.

To explain: The one parent's absence creates a vacuum and a hole in the relationship, which creates insecurity. The other parent overdoes the praise to make up for it. The child gets an unbalanced view of life and themselves, which is sometimes reinforced if and when the other parent shows up, because that parent will either offer false, hollow praise out of guilt, or anger and criticism.

I know several people who are narcissists. One is so off-the-charts that she became an alcoholic and lost custody of her children. Her dad was highly critical. Her mom tried to smooth things over. Even as a small child she was starving for attention. She is now so mentally ill, she cannot hold a job.

Another person I know is highly functioning, but he receives a lot of praise for the type of work he does in the community. It feeds his ego. At home, he can be bossy and controlling, and then becomes defensive and even crumples under the least bit of criticism. He is on the lower end of the spectrum.

Another individual had an indulgent mom and dad, but they were both alcoholics and fought constantly. The dad was a workaholic (see the pattern here?) and the mother "made up the difference." Even after her marriage, and a half dozen children, this person called her mother every night. She could never parent properly because it always had to be about her. She also became an alcoholic (self-medicating).

Patients need deep, long therapy. Which they will probably never accept.

Whew! You really got me started. :) It is a fascinating topic, though. I think that a lot of big time politicians are narcissists. I'd be interested to know their family histories.