If NPDs actually have low self esteem, then how is it possible that they act so incredibly confident?
By Julie L. Hall
That seeming contradiction is the essence of the disorder. Their confidence—superiority, entitlement, competitiveness, braggadocio, haughtiness, and so on—is a protective fortress against feeling inferior and unworthy of love.
I think of it as an exoskeleton they wear in an attempt to adapt to early childhood wounding caused by deprivations in primary caregiving. They adopt a larger-than-life persona as a compensatory measure. It’s an overcompensation, and it never really repairs the fundamental lack of self-esteem and unstable sense of who they are in the scheme of things.
Lest you feel too sorry for people who develop NPD, remember two things:
Narcissists also lack empathy, which ultimately leads them to operate abusively to get what they want.
Most people deeply wounded in childhood do not become abusers.