Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Published on July 19th, 2022
A person may have a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) if they have an inflated sense of self-worth and a lack of empathy for others. They may be called a narcissist, be pretentious, and have an exaggerated sense of self-worth. Narcissists can be challenging to live with and can be very resistant to change.
Narcissistic personality disorder causes a person to have an inflated sense of self-importance. A narcissist will feel that their own importance outweighs that of others. They will lack empathy for others and have a constant need for admiration.
A narcissist will exaggerate their accomplishments and personal abilities. They may also undermine and devalue others. They are often dismissive of other people’s feelings, efforts, and accomplishments. Narcissists feel that they are privileged compared to the people around them.
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Narcissism causes a person to feel superior to others. A narcissist may only associate with people who they feel are of the same caliber as them. They seek out admiration from others. They also do not see how their behavior affects themselves and the people around them. They will be more inclined to blame other people than self-reflect and take responsibility for their faults.
A narcissist can also be very manipulative. They may engage in destructive behaviors that hurt other people. The following are common manipulative behaviors you may see from a narcissist:
What Is A Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic personality disorder is considered a personality disorder. A personality disorder is different from other mental health disorders. A person with a personality disorder will have unhealthy behavioral and thought patterns. These unhealthy patterns affect how the affected person can relate to others. Personality disorder causes strains in the affected person’s relationships. It also affects their concept of self.
Each personality disorder is different. They have different causes and affect a person differently. It can be challenging for a person with a personality disorder to accept that there is something harmful about the way they function. They may not recognize that there is a problem or deny the severity of their condition. Because of this, it can be difficult for a person with a personality disorder to make or maintain healthy relationships.
This is particularly true for narcissistic personality disorder. People with this disorder tend to not acknowledge how they contribute to their life issues. They also may downplay or show a lack of consideration for how their behavior affects others.
Narcissistic personality disorder is a Cluster B personality disorder. Cluster B disorders consist of personality disorders that have the following features:
- Dramatic behaviors
- Erratic behaviors
- Unpredictable behaviors
People with a cluster B personality disorder tend to struggle with people and relationships. Their behavior is often fueled by their emotions or the need for attention from others.
Cluster B personality disorders include:
- Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Histrionic personality disorder (HPD)
- Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)
People with cluster B disorders tend to have dramatic and unpredictable behavior patterns. They may not realize or take responsibility for their inappropriate behavior. This tends to result in difficulty with building or maintaining healthy relationships. Oftentimes, a person with NPD will dismiss relationship issues. They will blame such issues on others being jealous of them as a means to not take responsibility for their actions.
Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
NPD tends to start during young adulthood. At this time, a person may show a lack of empathy for others. A person with NPD has a pompous attitude and expectation to be admired. They may not realize or understand the pain they cause to others.
Narcissists can come off as condescending and are often difficult to work with. Their attitude tends to impact their ability to build and maintain healthy relationships.
Their social skills are also impacted by their narcissism. A narcissist will struggle to make meaningful connections with other people. Their lack of empathy for others prevents them from developing healthy relationships.
Their need for attention can also affect them in social situations. An affected person will have problems with maintaining at least one of the following:
Narcissistic personality disorder also causes behavioral symptoms. These behavioral symptoms will stem from their grandiose sense of self. Such behavioral symptoms include:
- A pattern of pretentiousness
- A sense of superiority and entitlement
- A constant need for attention and admiration from others
- A lack of empathy
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- An exaggerated sense of achievement
- A sense of superiority over others
- Preoccupation with fantasies of success, power, intelligence, or beauty
- A sense of being special and only relating to others who they see as special
- Belittling or minimizing the accomplishments of others
- Monopolizing conversations
- A lack of self-awareness
- An expectation to be rewarded without having achieved anything of worth
- Feeling others are below them or not as important as them
- Having unrealistic expectations for others to cater to their needs and desires
- Taking advantage of others
- Difficulty recognizing or accepting criticism
- Outbursts of anger or frustration when not receiving special treatment
- Believing others are jealous of them without reason
Families of narcissists are also affected by a narcissist’s symptoms. They are often undermined and belittled. They may also be in cycles of abuse with their narcissistic family member. Education about NPD can help family members learn how to cope.
Key Features and Behaviors of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissists can be surprisingly insecure. Under their entitled personality tends to be low self-esteem and insecurities. This tends to fuel their symptomatic behaviors. Such behaviors that one would regularly see in a narcissist may include:
- Seeking admiration from others
- Lacking empathy for others coupled with a sense of entitlement
- Pretentious or bragging behaviors
- Exaggerating or overestimating their abilities or talents
- Confusion when their perceived accomplishments are not praised or admired
- Minimizing or de-valuing the accomplishments of others
A narcissist may also have fantasies and aspirations that fuel their exaggerated sense of grandiosity and self-importance. These fantasies may manifest in fantasies or unrealistic life goals. The following may be dreams or fantasies that occupy the mind of a narcissist:
- Dreams of ultimate rule or power and privilege
- Fantasies of inflated or unrealistic success
- Aspirations to achieve the perfect beauty ideal
- Fantasies of unmatched or unattainable brilliance
- Dreams and fantasies of being superior to others or being at a higher status than others
Despite their inflated ego, a person with NPD tends to struggle with a fear of defeat or criticism. They may be very sensitive to injury, embarrassment, or loss. They may also be sore losers and overreact when feeling slighted. This causes them to be reactive. Narcissists may withdraw when feeling humiliated or when their ego is bruised. Eventually, they resurface with the same grandiosity as before.
Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissism is deeply engrained in affected people. For this reason, treatment tends to take time.
NPD can be a difficult and time-consuming disorder to treat. This is due to resistance to recognizing or accepting the diagnosis. Narcissists also may not see their personality symptoms as a problem.
Talk therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are often used for NPD. Talk therapy is a form of therapy that helps a narcissist understand their emotions. It also helps them understand the core of their symptomatic behavior. It may also be referred to as psychotherapy.
CBT is a form of talk therapy. A goal of CBT for narcissism is to help people understand how their thoughts and behaviors are hurting them. It helps to open an affected person’s eyes to their behavior and sense of self-importance.
The process of CBT helps people change thought patterns to be less ego-centric. In this process, the affected person develops a healthier self-image. The relationship they have with themselves and others can improve as a result.
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