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Chapter 2. Grandiose Managers > Origins of Grandiosity

Origins of Grandiosity

Destructive narcissism can arise from early childhood experiences in which a child’s real self is neither valued nor responded to. At the same time, the child is seen as incredibly special because of some special trait the child has. The child is left with fragile self-esteem, which is covered over by a grandiose self-image, a reservoir of anger, and little concern for others’ well-being. This psychodynamic path to destructive narcissism is not the only route by which grandiosity can develop.

Grandiosity can also develop in people with great power or glamour who receive only praise and reinforcement of their grandiose self-images. Perhaps most important, people don’t give them negative feedback when they behave in a grandiose and arrogant manner. This “learned narcissism” can develop in those who are stunningly attractive or unusually bright or talented, such as star athletes and entertainers who are surrounded by people who treat them with great deference and fawn on them.


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