Picking the overly-prideful out of a crowd
Their penchant for and ability to manipulate those around them can make a narcissist difficult to spot.
Thomas suggests avoiding viewing the issue as simply black and white—either a person is, or is not narcissistic. Caregivers should shift their focus to how pervasive of a senior’s sense of self-importance is. “We all have a degree of narcissism in us,” she says, explaining that the classic signs of the disorder “exist on a continuum.”
The other trick is to examine a senior’s personality over the course of their entire lives. If they have been noticeably ostentatious, manipulative, attention-seeking, and self-focused for years, chances are that they have always been (and will likely always be) a narcissist.
A senior who suddenly develops some narcissistic tendencies following a major life event, such as, the loss of a spouse, or the onset of a major health issue, may be suffering from a different mental ailment, like depression, according to Thomas.
Born, bred, or both?
For a caregiver, it can sometimes feel as though one is constantly surrounded by an army of self-important people who demand our time and attention, but refuse to reciprocate.
Where do they all come from?
Though their behavior patterns often extend far into their past, narcissists don’t emerge, fully-formed, from the womb.
Thomas notes that pinning down specific causes of narcissism is tricky. She says that self-centered people are generally a product of the confluence of two greatly influential forces: biology, and environment.
It makes sense. People are genetically programmed to be concerned for their individual health and wellbeing, even when it is sometimes comes at the expense of others. If you combine those biological promptings with certain environmental factors, such as neglect, abuse, and over-parenting, it’s not difficult to see how a narcissist could be developed.