Updated: Sep 16
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is one of the ten personality disorders included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. This personality disorder is characterized by an exaggerated feeling of one's own importance, a strong desire for uncontrolled attention and praise, strained relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. Relationships, employment, education, and financial matters seem to be just a few of the areas of an individual’s life that can be impacted by NPD. When they don't receive the particular treatment or adoration that they feel they deserve, people with narcissistic personality disorder may typically feel dissatisfied and disappointed. Being around people with NPD might not be enjoyable to others. They may also find their interactions with such individuals to be to be unsatisfying. While a person with NPD may have extremely high self-esteem, it can also be extremely fragile, reliant on external approval, or even deceptive. A person with narcissistic personality disorder finds it extremely painful to feel "less than flawless," and they would do anything to avoid it.
Signs And Symptoms Of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)-
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition describes nine overarching characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder which are as follows:
A person with NPD-
Is unwilling to identify with the needs of others and lacks Empathy
People with NPD seem to have no desire for any real connection. They don’t feel empathy for people in trouble and have an unwillingness and inability to recognize the needs of people around them.
Has an overblown sense of self-importance
They might zone out when you start talking, even if you are trying to relate to something they said moments ago. Individuals with NPD may also belittle and look down on other people who they consider as inferior.
Behaves as if they are exceptionally “special” and can only be understood by or associated with other special people (or institutions)
They are extremely rude and demeaning to people they think are “below” them. They expect to be recognized as someone who is above everyone else and would do everything to associate only with those people who are equally superior.
Needs to be admired
People with NPD may go to great lengths to make sure that everyone is aware of their successes and accomplishments. They may get unreasonably angry, react in rage and, put someone else’s impression down if they are criticised or feel humiliated by someone else.
Posseses an unrealistic sense of entitlement and expects people around them to give them special treatment
They hate it and may scoff when corrected, put out, or treated as if they are “common.” They always expect to be almost worshipped by people
Takes advantage of others and exploits them to achieve their own goals
People with NPD may frequently use other people for their own personal gain. For example, They might add others on social media for the sole purpose of getting more “likes” but never return the favor.
Is envious of other people quite often but believes that others are jealous of them
They may belittle the value of people they are envious of and point out reasons why they shouldn’t be admired or praised. They cannot accept the idea that others may be more successful than them.
Displays arrogant behaviors and attitudes
They may talk constantly about their successes, influence, or attractiveness. For instance, they might brag about how much they get hit on by a person romantically and then “complain” about it.
Talks only about their fantasies of success, power, or recognition for their brilliance
Conversations with them revolve mostly around the kind of expensive car they want, they luxury they deserve or other material and shallow desires.
3 Types of Narcissistic Personalities
Narcissistic personality disorder typically affects males more than females, often beginning around the teenage years or early adulthood. Around 50-75% of the people diagnosed with NPD are men (Kacel et al., 2017). While 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 narcissistic personality disorder.
While the exact cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn't known, some researches show that in biologically vulnerable children, parenting styles that are overly protective or neglectful may impact them. The social learning theory holds that children are likely to grow up to be narcissistic when their parents overvalue them i.e. when they see their children as more special and more entitled than others. This may also be the case when parents lack warmth and show little affection and appreciation to their children (M & JE, 2006). In such situations, children may place themselves on a pedestal to try and seek the approval they did not receive from their parents from others. According to Simopoulos (1988), genetics, self-reflection, and cultural factors may also play a role in the development of Narcissistic Personality Disorder .
Complications caused by Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Complications occurring due to narcissistic personality disorder, and other conditions that can occur along with it, can include the following :
● Relationship difficulties-
people with NPD may find their relationships to be unfulfilling and have trouble maintaining relationships. Others may not enjoy being around them due to their egoistic and demeaning nature.
● Problems at work or school-
These individuals may find it extremely difficult to perform tasks that involve teamwork due to their controlling nature. They may also look down upon their peers and colleagues and perceive themselves to be better than the rest, thus affecting their relationships.
● Depression and anxiety-
Research studies have shown that narcissism, both grandiose and vulnerable may increase the risks of developing depression. Contrary to the behavior and the image that people with NPD project externally, they suffer from extremely low self-esteem. They cannot accept any kind of flaws that may be present in them and continue to hide them thus making it difficult for them to move forward constructively. This leads to a build-up of depressive feelings and anxiety.
● Physical health problems-
A study found that people with certain narcissistic personality traits, particularly men may have elevated levels of cortisol i.e. the primary stress hormone which puts them at a greater risk for long-term health problems, especially cardiovascular events.
● Drug or alcohol misuse-
When individuals with NPD do not receive the response they desire from others, they may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with their emotional distress. They may also engage in such activities alone to conceal their insecurities from the world.
● Suicidal thoughts or behavior
While others view an individual with NPD as someone concerned about their own needs and desires, on the inside, the person may feel empty, highly insecure, and lonely. With no outlet to share such feelings, these could lead to developing depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
Warning Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
How they talk:
A person with NPD may take over the reins of the conversation and seem to be uninterested in what the other person has to say — unless it’s a compliment or something positive about them.
How they act:
Individuals with NPD will rarely see genuine thoughtfulness or empathy. For instance, if someone has planned a fun date with this individual, but gets seriously ill, the person with NPD might get extremely annoyed that their plans have been ruined rather than feel bad that their friend is sick.
How they speak of themselves:
A person with NPD might frequently remind people of their accomplishments and successes. At the core of narcissism is insecurity. The person needs constant validation to fill that void due to which they try to display all their accomplishments like trophies.
How they react when angry:
When an individual with NPD feels slighted or humiliated, they might lash out in anger and use abusive or demeaning words in order to insult and humiliate the person who angered them.
Kacel, E. L., Ennis, N., & Pereira, D. B. (2017). Narcissistic personality disorder in Clinical Health Psychology Practice: Case studies of comorbid psychological distress and life-limiting illness. Behavioral medicine (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5819598/
Ltd, A. A. (2022, July 29). Research paper on Narcissistic Personality disorder. UK Essays. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/psychology/research-paper-on-narcissistic-personality-disorder-psychology-essay.php
M, D., & JE, G. (2006). Untangling the links of parental responsiveness to distress and warmth to child outcomes. Child development. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16460524/