Narcissistic personality disorder - one of several types of personality disorders - is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school, or financial affairs. People with a 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 enjoy being around them.
Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder centers around talk therapy (psychotherapy).
Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:
- Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
- Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
- Exaggerate achievements and talents
- Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate
- Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special 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, coming across as conceited, boastful, and pretentious
- Insist on having the best of everything - for instance, the best car or office
At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:
- Become impatient or angry when they don't receive special treatment
- Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
- React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
- Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
- Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
- Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
- Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability, and humiliation
When to see a doctor
People with a narcissistic personality disorder may not want to think that anything could be wrong, so they may be unlikely to seek treatment. If they do seek treatment, it's more likely to be for symptoms of depression, drug or alcohol use, or another mental health problem. But perceived insults to self-esteem may make it difficult to accept and follow through with treatment.
If you recognize aspects of your personality that are common to narcissistic personality disorder or you're feeling overwhelmed by sadness, consider reaching out to a trusted doctor or mental health provider. Getting the right treatment can help make your life more rewarding and enjoyable.
It's not known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with personality development and with other mental health disorders, the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is likely complex. A narcissistic personality disorder may be linked to:
- Environment ― mismatches in parent-child relationships with either excessive adoration or excessive criticism that is poorly attuned to the child's experience
- Genetics ― inherited characteristics
- Neurobiology - the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking
Narcissistic personality disorder affects more males than females, and it often begins in the teens or early adulthood. Keep in mind that, although some children may show traits of narcissism, this may simply be typical of their age and doesn't mean they'll go on to develop a narcissistic personality disorder.
Although the cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn't known, some researchers think that in biologically vulnerable children, parenting styles that are overprotective or neglectful may have an impact. Genetics and neurobiology also may play a role in the development of narcissistic personality disorder.
Complications of narcissistic personality disorder, and other conditions that can occur along with it, can include:
- Relationship difficulties
- Problems at work or school
- Depression and anxiety
- Physical health problems
- Drug or alcohol misuse
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
Because the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown, there's no known way to prevent the condition. However, it may help to:
- Get treatment as soon as possible for childhood mental health problems
- Participate in family therapy to learn healthy ways to communicate or to cope with conflicts or emotional distress
- Attend parenting classes and seek guidance from therapists or social workers if needed
What are the 4 types of narcissism? They're self-absorbed,
entitled, callous, exploitative, authoritarian, and aggressive. Some are physically abusive. These unempathetic, arrogant narcissists think highly of themselves but spare no disdain for others.
What are the three signs of narcissism?Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder
- Grandiose sense of self-importance. ...
- Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur. ...
- Needs constant praise and admiration. ...
- Sense of entitlement. ...
- Exploits others without guilt or shame. ...
- Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others.
Why are narcissists so seductive? Narcissists may also be appealing, at least in the short term, because they are so "socially bold." They exude that air of self-confidence and assurance that others find so attractive. People who are convinced of their own greatness often, at least at first, convince us.
Can a narcissist ever change? These traits, while often deeply entrenched, aren't always permanent. In fact, a 2019 study suggests that narcissistic tendencies naturally tend to decrease with age. That doesn't mean you have to wait around for nature to take its course, though.
What do narcissists want sexually? Narcissists' sexual preferences are often very specific. In bed, the narcissist may have very explicit ideas about what their partner should do or even say. They want the narrative to play out in a certain way, and they don't have the patience for changes to the script. This has to do with their lack of empathy.
What is a seductive narcissist?If an extreme narcissist were religious, he would worship himself. ... This kind of narcissist is the one who is so seductive he makes you like or believe in him or her with your whole heart.
What narcissistic abuse does to a woman? People
suffering from narcissistic abuse find it difficult to make decisions and tend to have a shorter attention span. They also tend to be depressed and present with a lack of self-care. Finally, the amygdala - the fear center of the brain - gets activated every time you feel anxious or scared.
Do narcissists help others? Some narcissists, for example, devote their lives to helping others, deriving their feelings of self-worth (and the topic of most of their conversations) from their generosity and self-sacrifice.
Are Narcissists happy? Narcissists
might have "grandiose" delusions about their own importance and an
absence of "shame" - but psychologists say they are also likely to be happier than most people.
What should you not say to a narcissist? Here are 10 "don'ts" for dealing with narcissists:
- Don't give them ammunition.
- Don't take them at face value.
- Don't try to justify or explain yourself.
- Don't minimize their outrageous behavior.
- Don't expect them to own their part.
- Don't try to beat them at their own game.
- Don't expect loyalty.
Why are narcissists jealous? New research suggests that people who have a high level of narcissistic traits strategically induce jealousy in their mates as a way to meet certain goals: Control, in some cases, or a boost in their self-esteem.