People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet.
People with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician.
In order for a person to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following symptoms:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
- Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes.
Narcissistic personality disorder is more prevalent in males than females, and is thought to occur in around 6 percent of the general population, according to research.
Like most personality disorders, NPD typically will decrease in intensity with age, with many people experiencing few of the most extreme symptoms by the time they are in the 40s or 50s.
Narcissistic folks actually are often very generous. They may, for instance, give away large sums of money to charity. Generous giving makes the giver feel good and also feels appropriate, like “the right” thing to do. They may well therefore pride themselves on their compassion and altruism.
At the same time, in a situation in which someone who tends toward narcissism wants something, and that desire is in conflict with what someone else wants, that’s when the selfish side takes over.
Often, narcissistic individuals can show compassionate generosity toward strangers yet not to the people they are supposed to love. In part that may stem from narcissistic tendencies to judge everyone as either higher or lower than themselves. Family members may be treated as lowly, while outsiders or those with high status, for instance from power or wealth, get treated with respect.
Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Researchers today don’t know what causes NPD. There are many theories, however, about the possible causes of narcissistic personality disorder. Most professionals subscribe to a bio-psychosocial model of causation
- that is, the causes of are likely due to biological and genetic factors, social factors (such as how a person interacts in their early development with their family and friends and other children), and psychological factors (the individual’s personality and temperament, shaped by their environment and learned coping skills to deal with stress).
This suggests that no single factor is responsible
— rather, it is the complex and likely intertwined nature of all three factors that are important. If a person has this personality disorder, research suggests that there is a slightly increased risk for this disorder to be “passed down” to their children.
Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Treatment of narcissistic personality disorder typically involves long-term psychotherapy with a therapist that has experience in treating this kind of personality disorder. Medications may also be prescribed to help with specific troubling and debilitating symptoms.
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