I wrote at the start of the month here about the relationship between family breakdown, the individualist structure of modern society, and narcissism. I said there that there seemed to be conclusive anecdotal and scientific evidence that suggested a link between narcissism formed in early childhood, and the dysfunction of the parental unit.
In other words, the perceived rise of individualism and the "me" culture in modern society I saw as stemming from the rise of the "baby boom" after the Second World War, and the erosion of the stable family unit/parenting skills. Thus when the parents themselves become narcissistic, the children they raise are bound be be at a higher than average risk of developing the same (or even worse) psychological disorders.
We know now that many psychological disorders, such as narcissism, ASPD and psychopathy, have their origins in early childhood. Narcissism (and psychopathy), apart from any biological factors, stem from an unstable and dysfunctional parental relationship in a child's first years. The issue is even more complicated when the child is an adoptee or foster child.
For decades, adoptions have been seen by many governments as the answer to the problem of unwanted children; either as the result of family poverty, rape, or any number of other social factors. It seems clear that as the level of social instability increases and destroys the family unit (as I mentioned in the previously-related article), the rate unwanted children is bound to increase by a correlating amount.
Adoption was seen by governments and psychologists as providing a stable family environment (provided the parents-to-be were properly screened) that allowed the adoptee the right environment to develop healthily. However, more recent research has revealed a previously-unexplored reality. That although many adopted children do develop normally, an alarmingly-disproportionate number of them develop psychological disorders - such as narcissism, and in extreme cases, psychopathy.
A closer look at the prison population, and the biographies of notorious serial killers, tells us a different story to the one told by government. Many of the most notorious serial killers were adopted children; and the proportion of adoptees in the prison population (and violent offenders) is significantly higher (as much as five times higher) than their proportion of the general population.
There are two contributing factors to this trend.
Because adopted children are severed from their biological mother, the damage this does to the baby had been previously-downplayed (partly because of the difficulty of analyzing the psychology of newly-born babies). Lacking a mother's warmth is a huge blow to the infant's needs, and makes it more likely that the baby will become either self-absorbed or worse if not remedied quickly. So from the start, adoptees are psychologically fragile, even before we factor into it the prospective parents.
Next is the psychology of the adopting parents themselves. What is the real motive for them wanting the child? This factor cannot be emphasized strongly enough, and can make the difference between a well-adjusted adoptee, and mal-adjusted one. Adopting parents who want a child for the sake of their own vanity (such as to fill a void in their life, or as a source of love) are running the risk of making the adoptee's psychology even more dysfunctional, and making the likelihood of the child developing narcissistic/psychopathic traits all the more certain. Narcissistic parents and parenting makes the child feel like they are looking after two adult children. Such parents do not really "love" their adopted children, they need them, as a form of Narcissistic Supply. A parent-to-be who already has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is the last person who should be responsible for the upbringing of an adoptee. As a result, the adoptee's psychology becomes even more self-centred and narcissistic: the worse possible result. If the child is then not given a proper moral grounding either, the child can even develop into a psychopath.
Then there is also the factor of the social conditions of the parents themselves: adopted children raised with parents from a socially-deprived background, regardless of good intentions, may well do more harm than good. As mentioned in the previous post on this issue, social deprivation and economic instability can cause great psychological harm to the already-insecure mental health of an adoptee.
Set with the wrong-minded parents in the wrong social conditions, an adopted child can be akin to a psychological time-bomb.
This is why emphasis should be put on doing extensive research into the motives and social background of the prospective parents as well as the child, in order to avoid such a situation. Unfortunately, the damage for many has already been done, as any trawl through adoption forums can tell you.
I explained in my article "Individualism, Narcissism and Psychopathy" how modern society has helped to gestate these psychological disorders. Social breakdown creates broken families; broken families create unwanted children; unwanted children can become wanted by insecure and narcissistic "parents"; and the adopted children's psychology becomes even more dysfunctional.
This is a vicious circle, and one that even the UK government is exacerbating. The Education Minister, Micheal Gove (an adopted child, with a personality indicative of some form of psychopathy) is eager to make it easier for parents to adopt children. The horrible irony is not lost here: that a man who was an adopted child, and possible psychopath, wishes to make it easier for other adopted children to become potential psychopaths.
Perhaps there is a method to the madness after all.
A more general description of the main attributes of Psychopathy, see here.