Publication Details

Van Schie, C., Jarman, H., Huxley, E. & Grenyer, B. (2020). Narcissistic traits in young people: Understanding the role of parenting and maltreatment. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 7 (1), 10-1-10-10.


2020 The Author(s). Background: Elevated narcissism in young people often sets up a cascade of interpersonal and mental health challenges, reinforcing the need to understand its concomitants. Experiences of maltreatment and different parenting styles have been implicated but findings to date are inconclusive. By simultaneously considering multiple remembered parenting styles and maltreatment in a large sample, this study aims to elucidate possible prognostic factors associated with both grandiose and vulnerable narcissistic traits in youth. Methods: Young people (N = 328, age range: 17-25 years) reported on the remembered interpersonal environment and current grandiose and vulnerable narcissism traits. Structural equation modelling was used to examine maternal and paternal parenting styles and examine the association between experiences of parenting and grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Results: Remembered overprotection from mothers and fathers was associated with both vulnerable and grandiose narcissistic traits. Remembered maternal overvaluation related to current grandiosity, and maternal leniency related to vulnerable narcissistic traits. For paternal parenting, the combination of overvaluation and leniency and overvaluation and care explained grandiose and vulnerable traits. There was no direct effect of remembered parental care or childhood maltreatment on current levels of narcissistic traits. Conclusions: Remembered childhood experiences of being overprotected, overvalued and experiencing leniency in parental discipline, were associated with higher traits of pathological narcissism in young people. Care and maltreatment were non-specific risk factors. Remembered childhood environments of being excessively pampered are associated with grandiose and vulnerable narcissistic traits, characterised by the young person expressing unrealistic self-views, entitlement beliefs and impaired autonomy. In treatment these traits may emerge in the patient-therapist relationship and working through their developmental origins may contribute to outcomes.



Link to publisher version (DOI)