What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic personality disorder
(NPD) is a personality disorder in which people have an inflated opinion of themselves.
They also have an intense need for the admiration and attention of others.
People with NPD may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not
given the praise or special favors they believe they deserve. Others may see
them as snobbish and conceited, and may not enjoy being around them.
NPD can cause problems in many areas of life, including:
However, the disorder can be managed with talk therapy and certain
Identifying Narcissistic Personality Disorder Traits
People with NPD are usually
described as being the following:
They often have high self-esteem
and may believe they are superior or special compared to other people. However,
they seem to need excessive praise and admiration, and they may react poorly to
perceived criticism. Narcissists also tend to exaggerate their own talents and
accomplishments, while downplaying those of others. They are usually
preoccupied by power, success, and beauty. They might even engage in impulsive
behaviors, such as risky sex and gambling.
Some traits of NPD may appear similar to confidence. However, healthy
confidence and NPD aren’t the same thing. People who have healthy self-esteem
are usually humble, while people with NPD almost never are. They tend to put
themselves on a pedestal and perceive themselves as better than everyone else.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
NPD usually appears in early
adulthood. People with the disorder may not recognize that they have a problem
since it goes against their self-image. You may have NPD if:
- you come across as pretentious and boastful,
causing others to avoid you
- your relationships are unfulfilling
- you become unhappy, angry, and confused when
things don’t go your way
- you have ongoing issues with:
If you believe you have NPD,
schedule an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional. They
can determine whether you have this personality disorder and suggest treatments
to help manage symptoms.
Doctors and mental health professionals often use the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the
American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental disorders, such as NPD.
The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for NPD include the following traits:
- having an inflated sense of self-importance and
- needing constant admiration and praise
- expecting special treatment due to perceived
- exaggerating achievements and talents
- reacting negatively to criticism
- being preoccupied with fantasies about power, success,
- taking advantage of others
- having an inability or unwillingness to
recognize the needs and feelings of other people
- behaving in an arrogant manner
To determine whether you meet these criteria, the doctor or
mental health professional may ask you to fill out a questionnaire. You may
also be tested for other mental disorders and health conditions.
Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The causes of NPD aren’t well
understood. However, inherited genetic defects are thought to be responsible
for many cases of NPD. Contributing environmental factors may include:
- childhood abuse or neglect
- excessive parental pampering
- unrealistic expectations from parents
- sexual promiscuity
- cultural influences
Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Treatment for NPD primarily consists
of talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy. If symptoms of NPD occur
alongside depression or another mental health condition, then appropriate
medications may be used to treat the other disorder. However, there are no
medications to treat NPD.
Talk therapy can help you learn how to relate better to others so your
relationships can become more enjoyable, intimate, and rewarding. Developing
positive interactions with other people can greatly improve various areas of
your life. Talk therapy can also show you how to:
- improve your collaboration with co-workers and
- maintain your personal relationships
- recognize your strengths and potential so you
can tolerate criticisms or failures
- understand and manage your feelings
- cope with any self-esteem issues
- set realistic goals for yourself
Since personality traits can be
difficult to change, it may take several years of therapy before you see an
improvement. During this time, you may begin to see therapy as a waste of time
and be tempted to quit. However, it’s important to stick with treatment. Attend
all your therapy sessions and take any medications as directed. With time,
you’ll begin to see a difference in yourself and your relationships with
The following lifestyle remedies
may help you as you go through therapy.
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, and other substances
that trigger negative behaviors.
- Exercise at least three times per week to
in relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, to reduce stress and
Recovery from narcissistic
personality disorder takes time. Stay motivated by keeping your recovery goals
in mind and reminding yourself that you can work to repair damaged
relationships and become happier with your life.
What Is the Outlook for Someone with Narcissistic
The benefits of treatment may vary depending on the severity of your symptoms
and your willingness to commit to treatment. In general, however, symptoms of
NPD usually improve over time. If you stay motived and actively work toward
change, you will likely be able to repair damaged relationships and become more
satisfied with your life.
with Narcissistic Personality Disorder
While it can be challenging to treat narcissistic personality disorder,
you can work through it. Seeing a therapist or psychologist for counseling can
be very helpful, as can changing the way you think and interact with others every
day. Remember that you are in charge of your behavior and you can change it at
There is some debate among
professionals about how to handle the person with narcissistic personality
disorder. Feel free to praise them when they do something right to or well.
Convey empathy when appropriate, and acknowledge when they are disappointed.
Conversely, you should also feel free to point out to the person when they are
acting haughty or rude. Be prepared for arguments based on your “calling them
out”, but recall that if the individual with NPD does not realize that their
behaviors are causing problems, they are less motivated to seek help.
Even if the person with NPD does not see the problem, or chooses not to
seek out therapy to modify their behavior, calling them out on their behavior
may cause them to self-regulate their behavior in your presence, knowing that
you will not put up with their behaviors.