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Narcissistic parents’ offspring’s developmental trajectories may vary, but they may also exhibit common behavioral patterns stemming from the effects of narcissistic abuse.

Cody Isabel, the founder and CEO of the mental health AI company Mind Brain Body Lab and an expert on the nervous system and trauma healing, shared some common behavioral and psychological patterns in an Instagram Reel on March 26.

“I’m a child of a narcissist. Of course, I thought I was an empath when, in fact, I’m actually hypervigilant because I had to learn how to predict people’s feelings and thoughts so that I knew what behaviors they were going to do to keep myself safe in childhood,” Isabel stated.

The camera cut to a woman who pointed out how some narcissists pinned the blame on them when something went wrong.

“I’m the child of a narcissist. Of course, I don’t ask for help. I don’t want to be a burden,” Isabel added.

“I’m the child of a narcissist. Of course, I’m so terrified of rejection,” she said. “I’m so terrified of rejection. I’m never going to tell you that you do something that hurts my feelings.”

“I’m the child of a narcissist,” Isabel continued. “Of course, I think I’m the laziest person that ever existed, even though I’m close to burnout at all times,” Isabel stated.

One typical behavior among some children of narcissistic parents is that they put other people’s happiness before theirs to ensure their safety.

Isabel gave the last point, saying, “Of course, I’m going to end up in a toxic relationship in adulthood because it feels normal to me.”

Many of the examples of behaviors children of narcissists have that Isabel gave center around low self-esteem, which is typical for victims of narcissistic abuse.

But other studies on African Americans and narcissism show the opposite. Studies suggest Black people have higher levels of narcissism than white individuals.

According to a study by Dr. Virgil Zeigler-Hill and Marion T. Wallace, the grandiosity narcissists display most likely conceal their underlying feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem—a defensive behavior.

Wallace and Dr. Zeigler-Hill linked this to their 2004 study on self-esteem, in which they observed Black individuals at the University of Southern Mississippi. In their observation, they noted how Black individuals have higher levels of self-esteem when things go amiss as a means of self-protection.

“…being a member of a stigmatized group may serve as a buffer against adversity because members of devalued groups are able to externalize negative experiences by attributing them to discrimination or prejudice,” the study read. “It is assumed that this externalization of negative experiences would help bolster or protect the self-esteem of stigmatized individuals.”

Taking this into consideration, if we combine narcissistic abuse in Black households with the lack of emotional support for children victims and internalized negative thoughts and feelings, we most likely will see the child grow into adolescence and adulthood exhibiting narcissistic tendencies unless there’s some interference like therapy.

But that won’t happen until mental health services become more accessible to all demographics.

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