The Biological Perspective

The role of biological influences in the narcissistic personality seems especially unclear. Although evidence adduced in support of biogenic determinants for most of the other personality patterns was largely of a speculative nature, there was some, albeit tenuous, logic for these speculations. In the case of the narcissistic pattern, however, where the existence of distinctive biophysical precursors seems lacking, conjectures would have unusually weak grounding; thus, none are proposed. However, some observations about mood and temperament, presumably of a biophysical nature, are noted here.

Narcissists are often seen as being possessed of a buoyant mood and an optimistic outlook under usual circumstances, provided they have managed to settle into an environment that does not meaningfully threaten their sense of superiority. Cheerful and carefree in affect, this personality pattern enjoys an unusually relaxed demeanor, likely because of established self-glorifying cognitions that may routinely and immediately pacify any temperamental tendencies toward reaction to everyday annoyance. However, should this shield be penetrated, a rapid turn may take place. This change may take the form of either an edgy and irritable mood marked by interpersonal friction, or it may be manifest in repetitive bouts of dejection characterized by feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, or humiliation.

Since little evidence for the development of the narcissistic personality can be provided from biological sources, we must trace the roots of this pattern among psychogenic influences.

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