Real vs False Self
One of the reasons that narcissists are so difficult to spot, and indeed to understand, is because they have a split personality – one that maintains a public image of the very pillars of society, and another private one that wreaks havoc and abuse on anyone misfortunate enough to get close to them.
Why the Split Personality?
Generally, people develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder in their early infancy. It happens as a result of serious trauma experienced as a young child – physical or sexual abuse, for example – as a result of which the child feels a sense deep shame towards their “Real Self”. Their real character is buried deep in their psyche, and suffers arrested development – that is to say certain emotions develop no further as they grow older but are frozen in time at the age that the abuse happened. Key regulatory emotions affected include empathy, remorse, love, and compassion. They compensate by establishing a “false self”, in essence a charade, an act that mimics mannerisms learnt from their parents, friends and family, films etc.