Narcissism develops through a lack of mirroring. It is important for human beings to feel seen and to be able to find their place.
A gifted individual is often inadequately mirrored: Maybe their skills aren’t recognized or misinterpreted, or overestimated and they are generally seen as genius. This discrepancy with reality can cause difficulties in developing a healthy sense of self-reference. Due to their unfulfilled need for mirroring, gifted people may try to meet that need by displaying their abilities even in inappropriate situations, which makes them unpopular. Another risk is that gifted people develop strong ambivalence and insecurity with respect to their abilities and, consequentially, a fragile sense of self-worth: If things go well, the gifted person feels great, but if things do not go so well, they immediately feel completely inferior. What also comes into play here is that, due to their abilities in school, many highly gifted people have not learned to develop frustration tolerance in the event of failure. An often described phenomenon is the so-called “impostor syndrome”, which refers to the feeling of being an impostor and not actually being very intelligent at all. Many share the fear of “being found out” at some point. This can also be related to narcissism.
Narcissism is often accompanied by bitterness and despair, as well as inappropriate appreciation and devaluation of oneself and/or others.
© Frauke Niehues