Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is characterized by excessive self-centeredness which leads a person to require constant admiration due to his or her inflated sense of self. People suffering this condition believe they are superior and therefore tend to disregard the feelings of others. As they become preoccupied with their own power and importance, they can easily destroy many of their relationships, leading to perpetuation of narcissistic symptoms.


Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder


While many people experience symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder at one time or another, people with this condition are consumed by these thoughts and as the disorder progresses, their lives become more and more dysfunctional. It may become impossible to function normally in society, as the consuming feelings may be disruptive at work and with family. Following is a list of symptoms that may indicate narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Expectation for recognition, without worthy achievements
  • Feelings of grandiosity
  • Has constant fantasies of idealism, ie: power, love, success
  • Requires constant admiration
  • Takes advantage of others to achieve power or success
  • Cannot recognize or understand the feelings of others
  • Frequent envy
  • Arrogance and hostility toward others
  • Believes that he or she is special and unique


Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder


The exact cause of the development of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown. Research suggests several theories that may contribute to the disorder. Severe emotional abuse may lead a patient to develop narcissistic habits as a way of compensating for the trauma. Excessive praise or criticism in childhood can also lead to symptoms. Signs of narcissism are a normal part of childhood development, but when parents or caregivers fail to provide a balance for these types of feelings, symptoms may intensify and continue into adulthood. Unreliable caregiving or overindulgence during childhood can also lead to this disorder.


Diagnosing Narcissistic Personality Disorder


It will be necessary to have a trained physician, psychiatrist or psychologist conduct an evaluation for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, as there is a distinct possibility that symptoms may indicate co-existing conditions. Many people suffering NPD can also show signs of anorexia, substance abuse, antisocial personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, or others. Generally, a diagnosis will require several of the symptoms to be experienced on an ongoing basis. These symptoms will be interfering with normal, daily routine by causing constant relationship disturbances, making it very difficult to carry on normally with social and work life.


Treatment Options for Narcissistic Personality Disorder


Due to the nature of narcissistic personality disorder, many people who suffer from this do not seek treatment. Additionally, the idea of treatment may trigger a reaction to avoid exposure of inadequacies, leading to refusal of any kind of help. Since this is a disorder that stems largely from personality traits developed over time, and not chemical imbalance, the use of medication is limited. Different types of therapy may be helpful in overcoming the root cause and reshaping the personality to limit narcissistic behavioral patterns.

  • Cognitive therapy – helps the patient to become aware of symptomatic patterns, especially those stemming from negative thoughts. Once negative habits are identified, the patient learns to replace those habits with a more positive and beneficial outlook.
  • Family therapy – can uncover the root cause of an individual's narcissistic temperament, leading to healing for all family members involved.
  • Group therapy – by joining with others who experience the same type of symptoms, a patient may feel less isolated and can learn to recognize positive relationship factors, while opening up to the internal shame, guilt or inadequacies that may be causing symptoms.