Years ago, prior to learning about narcissism, I had a friend who counseled people at her church. She told me how she believed many people were stuck emotionally at the age they were when they experienced deep trauma. This makes a great deal of sense to me, especially knowing what I do now about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Looking at some of the narcissists I’ve known in my life, they were abused, neglected or both in their childhood, or faced something very traumatic such as a life threatening injury. My father, for example, nearly died at only fifteen from a traumatic brain injury, thanks to some drunk driver hitting his car head on. Although he was a mature adult in ways such as keeping a full time job, maintaining & repairing his own car & home, in some ways, his behavior was very immature. He seemed to think he should have whatever he wanted, just because he wanted it. That is entitlement but it’s also a very immature behavior.
My late mother in-law grew up in an extremely dysfunctional environment. At 15, she got pregnant & married my father in-law. By all accounts, their marriage was not a happy one for many years. Her behavior was quite immature, & often reminded me of a teenager. Like my father, she seemed to think she should have what she wanted simply because she wanted it.
Obviously, not everyone who has experienced trauma, abuse or neglect in their childhood is like this. However it seems to me that many narcissists are. So many act very immature, & if you look at their lives, many also had some sort of trauma in their childhood.
I’m not telling you this to excuse the abusive behavior of narcissists, of course. There is no valid excuse for abuse! However, understanding them can help you a great deal. It can help you not to be as hurt or angered by their abuse because you see it’s something wrong with them. (This information is always a good reminder since they love gaslighting so much.) It enables you to predict their behavior so you can protect yourself. It also can help you to remember that basically, you’re dealing with a bratty child in an adult’s body & deal with them accordingly.