I have a particular problem with the "abuse excuse". There are abusers who can point to a personal history where they were abused as children. (Sometimes the victims of an abuser will point to this history too in order to avoid having to deal with the concept of EVIL embodied in their abuser.)
Those who try to explain the reason narcissists exist will often fall back on the old Freudian concept of early childhood "damage" caused by abuse or neglect. This is very unscientific and unreliable as an explanation. For one thing, for childhood trauma to explain the creation of a narcissist one has to ask the very important question, "why do so many children raised in abusive situations NOT become narcissists?" This theory is too inconsistent with what we see in real life. There is no clear cause and effect because there are more examples of children raised in these situations who do not become narcissists than who do. This is a clear indication that individual choice is involved in how we ultimately develop character.
The other paradox is that there are narcissists who spring up in homes where no abuse or neglect can be found. No set of parents is perfect. Every parent makes mistakes in child-rearing, but those mistakes are greatly mitigated when parents really love their children. Children tend to be the most forgiving of creatures where their parents are concerned. There are narcissists who sprout up in these imperfect but loving homes. So, obviously, childhood traumas can not apply here.
Narcissists can be formed in homes where the child is greatly spoiled, fawned over, sheltered from all consequences of their bad behavior, and generally not taught self-control. Some would argue that this constitutes "child abuse". In the old days we just called it spoiling. For millennia society recognized this kind of parenting would raise up rotten children. Spoil....rot.....same thing. Along the lines of spoiling, I have personally witnessed personalties who are so bent on what they want that from an early age they spoil themselves. I've seen it with my own eyes. I have a sister, who from a very young age, lost no opportunity to indulge herself. This propensity strengthened with the years and became worse. She was spoiled by our mother when she was very young. When our mother stopped spoiling her, my sister just picked up from there and finished the job. More evidence that narcissists create themselves.
We see narcissists come from all types of situations and home upbringing. They can come from abusive homes, non-abusive homes, homes where they seem to get everything they want, all societies and socio-economic strata. What causes narcissists? Who can know?? Why is the why important? What we need to center our attention on is what they do. They are human predators. They are dangerous. We need to put our energies into understanding this reality and not waste time fussing over how they got that way because that is a total waste of time. Our understanding the why will not change what the narcissist is.
Back to the "abuse excuse". It is more egregious when a victim of abuse turns into an abuser. I find it completely inexcusable. I loathe the psychobabble that uses previous abuse in an abuser's history as an explanation (excuse) of some sort. The explanation is an excuse because society often gives a reduced penalty when the abuse excuse is brought in. It is insane logic. I remember being a very small child and making the conscious decision that I would not inflict abuse on my own child when I grew up. (A promise I kept.) The abuse I received enabled me to empathize with how it feels to be abused. Please take note of the power of choice I employed that stopped the abuse cycle. Please also note that I was around three years of age when I made this decision. Children make choices at a very young age that shape who they become. In spite of their circumstances, good or bad. Someone who has been abused knows what it feels like and is all the more evil to turn around and abuse others because they know exactly what it feels like. Those who were abused have looked into the face of evil. If the abused becomes the abuser they made a choice to become evil too. Since they know what it feels like to be abused we can only conclude that they enjoy inflicting the pain they've experienced onto others....what is this but evil?
We are all beckoned to come to the "dark side" very often throughout our lives. How can we admire those who choose the path of light, truth and compassion if we can excuse those who take the dark path? Was it all a coin toss? Some may think yes. I certainly don't.