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Narcissistic Personality Disorder: How to identify a Narcissist

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, this article can help. It provides information on the signs and symptoms of the condition, as well as ways to get help.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not live up to their expectations.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways that limit their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their life.

Symptoms

People with narcissistic personality disorder may:

  • Believe they’re superior to others and can only be understood by or associate with other special or high-status people
  • Expound on their own importance
  • Frequently seek admiration
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal love
  • Believe they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner

Like all personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorder exists on a spectrum. Some people with the disorder have only minor symptoms, while others have more serious symptoms that significantly impair their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their life.

Causes

It’s not known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with other personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorder may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as:

  • Inherited characteristics. Narcissistic personality disorder may be more common in people who have certain inherited personality traits, such as a greater need for attention, a sense of entitlement and a preoccupation with success.
  • Environmental influences. Family environment, social experiences and cultural influences may contribute to the development of narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation. The diagnosis is made if the person has symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder that cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as work, school or personal relationships.

Treatment

Talk therapy is the most common form of treatment for narcissistic personality disorder. In therapy, the person with narcissistic personality disorder will work with a therapist to identify the parts of their life and personality that need to change.

Therapy can be a long process and may require several years of treatment. Medications may also be prescribed to help

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, P

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which people have an inflated opinion of themselves. They also have an intense need for

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:

work

school

relationships

However, the disorder can be managed with talk therapy and certain lifestyle improvements.

Identifying narcissistic personality disorder traits

People with NPD are usually described as being the following:

arrogant

self-centered

demanding

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:

work

school

relationships

finances

alcohol

drugs

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 new edition of 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 entitlement

needing constant admiration and praise

expecting special treatment due to perceived superiority

exaggerating achievements and talents

reacting negatively to criticism

being preoccupied with fantasies about power, success, and beauty

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, your 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 (often accompanies narcissism)

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 peers

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. You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.

#psychology #narcissism

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