Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental disorder that affects individuals who display exaggerated or excessive self-importance, grandiosity, and a lack of empathy for others. People with NPD have a deep-seated need for admiration and praise from others, which is often accompanied by a sense of entitlement and a belief in their own superiority. The disorder has received a lot of attention in recent years due to the behavior of many politicians, celebrities, and other public figures. However, NPD is a serious condition that can cause significant distress and impairment for both the individual and those around them.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms of NPD can vary widely, but they generally involve a pattern of behavior that indicates an excessive need for admiration and attention, as well as a lack of empathy or concern for others. These individuals may have an exaggerated sense of their own importance and abilities and may feel entitled to special treatment or privileges. They may also be preoccupied with fantasies of power, wealth, or success, and may be overly sensitive to criticism or rejection.

Diagnosing NPD can be difficult, as many of the symptoms can overlap with other conditions. However, mental health professionals typically look for a pattern of behavior that has persisted over time, as well as the presence of several of the following characteristics:

  • Exaggerated self-importance and sense of entitlement
  • A preoccupation with fantasies of power, success, or attractiveness
  • A belief in their own superiority or uniqueness
  • A lack of empathy for others
  • A need for constant admiration and attention
  • A tendency to exploit others for their own gain
  • A sense of entitlement to special treatment or privileges
  • A tendency to be envious or jealous of others
  • A tendency to react with anger or aggression when their sense of self-importance is threatened

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of NPD are not well understood, but researchers believe that it may be a combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors. Some studies have suggested that NPD may be more common in families with a history of mental illness or substance abuse and that certain personality traits or temperaments may increase the risk of developing the disorder.

Other risk factors for Narcissistic Personality Disorder may include

  • Childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect
  • Overly critical or neglectful parenting
  • Overindulgent or overpraising parenting
  • Being overly sheltered or pampered as a child
  • Growing up in an environment that values material success or status
  • Being exposed to other individuals with NPD or other personality disorders


Narcissistic Personality Disorder is notoriously difficult to treat, as individuals with the condition tend to perceive themselves as perfect or infallible, and may be resistant to acknowledging their own faults or limitations. However, there are several types of psychotherapy that have been shown to be effective in treating NPD or reducing some of its symptoms. These include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): A type of talk therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, and developing more adaptive coping skills.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: A type of talk therapy that explores early life experiences and unconscious thoughts and feelings, and aims to help individuals develop a more integrated sense of self.
  • Group therapy: A collaborative approach that involves working with others who have NPD or similar issues, and learning new skills and strategies for managing interpersonal relationships.

Some individuals with NPD may also benefit from medication, particularly if they have comorbid conditions such as depression or anxiety. However, it’s important to note that there are no medications currently approved specifically for the treatment of NPD.


Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a complex and debilitating condition that can have far-reaching effects on both the individual and those around them. While there is no surefire way to prevent NPD from developing, early intervention and treatment can significantly improve outcomes and help those with the disorder lead more fulfilling lives. It’s important for friends and family members to reach out for help if they suspect that a loved one may be struggling with NPD or a related condition, as professional support and guidance can make a world of difference. With time, patience, and persistence, individuals with NPD can learn to build more positive relationships and develop a more integrated sense of self.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder FAQ

Here are the most common questions about narcissistic personality disorder.

How does Narcissistic Personality Disorder affect relationships?

Individuals with NPD can have difficulties in their relationships, as they often seek out others who will admire and praise them excessively, but lack a true connection with others.

How can family and friends help someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Family and friends of someone with NPD can encourage them to seek help and support them through treatment. It is important to set boundaries and communicate clearly with the individual with NPD, while also showing acceptance and empathy.

Can someone have both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and other mental health conditions?

Yes, it is possible for someone with NPD to also have other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Therefore, it is important for them to receive a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan.

How common is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

NPD is relatively rare, with estimates suggesting that around 1% of the general population has NPD.

Is it possible for someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder to change?

While NPD is a difficult condition to treat, some individuals with NPD can benefit from therapy and make changes to their behavior and thought patterns. However, it can be a long and challenging process that requires a willingness to change and intense effort.

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