Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by an individual's self-directed focus and inflated self-admiration.
A narcissist often exhibits intense and unstable emotions when their self-concept is challenged.
The narcissistic individual's sense of self is extremely distorted. A narcissist feels they must demonstrate feelings of superiority to compensate for a severe lack of self-esteem.
Narcissism sub-types as defined by clinical theorist Theodore Millon:
- Fanatic - has paranoiac features, counterbalances for insignificance and low self-esteem by developing an omnipotent illusion of the self.
- Elitist - filled with overwhelming self-esteem, self-centered and pretentious. They are addicted towards admiration and seek social success.
- Compensatory - grandiose appearance, but filled with inferiority complex and self-doubt deep inside their heart.
- Amorous - exhibitionistic and seductive, do not get involved in and are not interested in deep relationships.
- Unprincipled - ruthless, fraudulent, and exploitative of others; usually successful, with criminalist thinking.
Like other under-reported mental illnesses, it's likely that the prevalence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is much higher, but most narcissists don't see themselves as having a problem and are unlikely to seek treatment.
While specific statistics on NPD are not available, it's estimated that 1% of people - mostly males - have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
The exact cause of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is unknown; however, many psychologists believe that this shame-based disorder derives from a combination of biological, genetic, and social factors.
It's likely that the narcissist grew up in an extreme environment: living with neglect and abuse, pushed toward perfection or being praised for "having special talents."
Symptoms Of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
According to the Cleveland Clinic, those with this disorder:
- Are self-centered and boastful
- Seek constant attention and admiration
- Consider themselves better than others
- Exaggerate their talents and achievements
- Believe that they are entitled to special treatment
- Are easily hurt but might not show it
- Might take advantage of others to achieve their goals
Other common traits of narcissistic personality disorder include:
- Preoccupation with fantasies that focus on unlimited success, power, intelligence, beauty, or love
- Belief that he or she is “special” and unique, and can only be understood by other special people
- Expectation that others will automatically go along with what he or she wants
- Inability to recognize or identify with the feelings, needs, and viewpoints of others
- Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
- Hypersensitivity to insults (real or imagined), criticism, or defeat; possibly reacting with rage, shame, and humiliation
- Arrogant behavior and/or attitude
Treatment For Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder rarely seek treatment, as they genuinely believe that everyone else is the problem.
If the individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder is extremely impulsive, tests reality, or is self-destructive, they may end up in a medical facility to treat those fall-outs and receive a diagnosis there.
Psychotherapy can be helpful for Depression and difficulties within the narcissist's interpersonal relationships.
Group therapy can be especially helpful for those with NPD, as they are put into a situation where a group (not an authority figure) challenges their psychological beliefs.
The Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Relationships
Being in a relationship (romantic or otherwise) with a narcissist can have a significant impact on the partner.
A narcissistic individual will do anything to boost their self-confidence, often at the expense of those around them.
A narcissistic individual does not experience intimacy in a relationship and is simply unable to offer empathy or compassion. The constant need for approval and support means that the partner of a narcissist constantly gives but never receives.
Problems in the relationship are blamed on the partner since the narcissist has no ability to understand another person's feelings.
Resources for Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
Narcissistic - Comprehensive information on all types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, with suggestions on how to deal with a narcissist in your life. Also, how a NPD parent affects their children.
NPD In Depth - Information from PsychCentral.
Selfishness and Narcissism in Family Relationships - offers a guide with information and checklists that are helpful in identifying patterns of narcissism in your family life.
Detailed information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, along with details about dual diagnoses and the NPD individual in relationships.
Narcissistic Personality Quiz - PsychCentral.com
Grandiosity.org's complete Narcissistic Personality Resource includes information, news, and links.