When people perceive something positive or neutral as negative, bad things usually result.
In a deep sense narcissism can be defined as the strong tendency or habit of perceiving positive input from others negatively.
Narcissistic parents, for example, are infamous for their malignant habit of often seeing one or more of their children in a negative light.
In my view, true narcissism is defined as having malignant output. This output, of course, is based on the negative way the narcissist perceives the other, whether a child, a “friend,” or someone else.
Depression can also be understood as negative input where there is none.
The flip side of all of this is seeing positive input where there is none. An example of this might be a child who perceives a narcissistic parent’s malignant behaviors in a positive light. Such a child might learn to see a scowl as honest or cruel speech as normal, even affectionate.
Downstream, children raised that way will often tend to make friends with narcissists after they leave the home. They will view narcissistic traits as signs of friendship or genuineness when they are anything but.
For their part, narcissists are drawn to people who see their bad behaviors in a positive way.