Certain problems with the brain can cause narcissistic behaviors or exacerbate ones that already exist.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease exacerbate the symptoms. If a narcissist develops either disease, even if they have changed for the better prior to their diagnosis, chances are very good that their narcissistic behavior will return with a vengeance. If you think about it, it makes sense this would happen. As the brain health deteriorates, the person will become more frustrated with being able to accomplish & articulate less & less. They have unmet needs which will make them focus more on how to get those needs met & how to tell others they need the needs met. An already self-centered person will become even more so. Plus, as they deteriorate, this is a huge narcissistic injury. As they lose their looks & talents, it makes them angry like any narcissistic injury does, & they lash out.
Brain injuries, such as concussions or other traumatic brain injuries, also can create or exacerbate narcissistic behaviors too.
Until the past couple of years, little was known about traumatic brain injuries or TBIs. Thankfully, more is known now, & many people are starting realize the severity of TBIs & its list of awful symptoms. Some symptoms may include:
- short term memory loss
- comprehension problems
- reduced attention span
- personality changes (such as once being optimistic, but becoming pessimistic after the TBI)
- vision changes
- sleep troubles
- dizziness &/or vertigo
- angry outbursts
- sensory changes (sensitivity to light or sound for example)
- if the TBI happens to a child, he or she may stop maturing emotionally beyond the age the TBI occurred.
Having had a TBI myself, I have a lot of these symptoms. In fact, I feel like a very different person than I was before the accident. My personality has changed so much. And, yes, I am much more selfish than I was previously. I believe it also caused me to develop Dependent Personality Disorder. Once I was very independent, now I depend a lot on my husband. I also don’t enjoy as much alone time as I once did. I get lonely sometimes, which is something I never did before.
I thank God though because He has taught me so much about narcissism! If He hadn’t done so, I believe my behavior would have taken a narcissistic turn.
If a person grows up seeing narcissistic behavior from one or both parents, that is the norm. It’s all they know. They see narcissists getting whatever they want. If that person gets a TBI, chances are they will become more self-centered. If that self-centered thinking is quite severe, it seems like going into narcissism is a natural course of events. After all, they see a narcissist getting anything she wants- what she does works. If it works for the narcissist, it should work for the TBI victim as well. It’s only logical.
If you or someone you know has a brain injury or disease, cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy) may be a very good idea. A professional can help you work through what you’re feeling & develop healthy ways to cope. And remember, sometimes it takes going through a few counselors before you find one you’re comfortable with.
If you are dealing with someone like this, you’re in a very challenging position. I understand totally- my father has Alzheimer’s. There are no easy answers for you. What works for one person may not work for another. You will need to draw nearer to God than ever. Listen to His promptings. Your gut feelings are His promptings trying to lead you the right way. Pick your battles wisely. Some things simply are NOT worth a fight. Don’t forget to protect yourself, too. Yes, this person is sick & can only control their actions to a degree or maybe not at all, but you still need to protect yourself from physical or mental danger. If you’re a caregiver, there are options out there to get help. Your local Department of Aging or churches can help. There are plenty of support groups available also for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s & dementia.