What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

INDORAMAL.COM/EN - Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include: pompous sense of importance, preoccupation with unlimited success, belief that someone is special and unique, exploitative towards others, lack of empathy, arrogance, and jealousy of others. These symptoms cause significant stress in a person's life.

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A narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a long pattern of greatness (whether in fantasy or actual behavior), a great need for admiration, and usually a lack of empathy for others. People with this disorder often believe that they are very important in everyone's life - and for anyone they meet. While this pattern of behavior might be suitable for a king in 16th century England, it is generally considered inappropriate for most ordinary people today.

People with a narcissistic personality disorder often show arrogance, disparage, or patronizing. For example, someone with this disorder can complain about the "rudeness" of awkward servants or "stupidity," or conclude a medical evaluation with a doctor's condescending evaluation.

In layman's terms, someone with this disorder can be described only as "narcissist" or as someone with "narcissism." Both of these terms generally refer to someone with a narcissistic personality disorder.

Personality disorders are long-standing patterns of experience and inner behavior that deviate from individual cultural norms. This pattern is seen in two or more of the following areas: cognition; influence; interpersonal function; or impulse control. The eternal pattern is inflexible and pervasive in a variety of personal and social situations. This usually leads to significant difficulties or disturbances in social, occupational, or other functions. The pattern is stable and long duration, and its onset can be traced back to the beginning of adulthood or adolescence.

Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

For someone 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 favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her 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 him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes


Because personality disorders describe long-lasting behavior patterns, they are most often diagnosed in adulthood. It is very rare for them to be diagnosed in childhood or adolescence because a child or teen is in constant development, personality changes, and maturation. However, if diagnosed in a child or teenager, the feature must be available for at least 1 year.

Narcissistic personality disorders occur more in men than women and are estimated to occur in about 6 percent of the general population, according to the study.

Like most personality disorders, NPD will usually decrease in intensity with age, with many people experiencing some of the most extreme symptoms when they are in their 40s or 50s.

How is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

Personality disorders such as NPD are usually diagnosed by trained mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists. Family physicians and general practitioners are generally not trained or well equipped to make this type of psychological diagnosis. So, although you can initially consult your family doctor about this problem, they should refer you to a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. No laboratory, blood, or genetic tests are used to diagnose personality disorders.

Many people with this disorder do not seek treatment. People with personality disorders, in general, do not often seek treatment until the disorder begins to significantly disrupt or impact a person's life. This most often occurs when a person's coping resources are too thin to deal with stress or other life events.

The diagnosis for a narcissistic personality disorder is made by a mental health professional who compares your symptoms and life history with those listed here. They will determine whether your symptoms meet the criteria needed for a personality disorder diagnosis.

Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Researchers today do not know what causes NPD. There are many theories, however, about the possible causes of narcissistic personality disorders.

Most professionals subscribe to the biopsychosocial model of causes - that is, the causes are likely due to biological and genetic factors, social factors (such as how a person interacts in their initial development with family and friends and other children), and psychological factors (personality and individual temperament), formed by their environment and learn coping skills to deal with stress). This shows that no single factor is responsible - more precisely, it is a complex and possibly related nature of all three important factors.

If someone has this personality disorder, research shows that there is a slightly increased risk of this disorder being "passed down" to their children. While some of these are related to genetics, some of them may also be caused by the child's personality and parenting behavior of one or both parents.

Causes of Personality Disorders

Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Treatment of narcissistic personality disorder usually involves long-term psychotherapy with a therapist who has experience in treating this kind of personality disorder. Medications can also be prescribed to help with specific, debilitating symptoms.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Keywords: NPD, narcissistic personality disorder, greatness, admiration, lack of empathy, arrogant, insulting, demeaning, successful, special, unique, exploitative from others, do not have empathy, arrogant, jealous

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