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Narcissistic Personality Disorder - Causes, Signs, Complications, and Treatment

Published on Mar 05, 2020 and last reviewed on Jun 21, 2022   -  5 min read


Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a psychiatric condition characterized by a lack of empathy and an inflated opinion of self. Read on to know its causes, signs, complications, and treatment options.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder - Causes, Signs, Complications, and Treatment

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The term “Narcissism” is often used to describe self-obsessed and self-centered people, who are full of themselves. Narcissistic personality disorder, otherwise called NPD, is a type of personality disorder. People with NPD have an extreme need for attention and admiration, an unreasonable sense of self-importance, problematic relationships, and an inability to share others’ feelings. But such people have very fragile self-esteem.

A narcissistic personality disorder affects an individual’s work, relationships, school, etc. When such people are not given special care, attention, and favors, they easily become unhappy and disappointed. Due to their constant need for appreciation and approval, others do not enjoy being in a relationship with them and they find all relationships unfulfilling. Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder centers around talk therapy (psychotherapy).

People with NPD have self-centered and arrogant thinking and behavior, which often makes others describe them as manipulative, demanding, selfish, and patronizing. These patients do not change their behavior even when they notice it is the root of all their problems. They always turn the blame to others and react extremely sensitive to minutest criticisms or disagreements. They view such criticisms as a personal attack.

As people with NPD do not consider themselves mentally ill, treatments have not been well studied. NPD is more common in men than women and affects about 1 % of people at some point in life. This condition was first described in 1925 by the psychoanalyst Robert Waelder, and in 1968, Heinz Kohut coined the term narcissistic personality disorder.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The traits or signs and symptoms that a narcissistic personality disorder are:

What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The exact cause that triggers narcissistic personality disorder is still not known. But like all other mental health disorders, narcissistic personality disorder is also believed to be caused due to multiple factors. The possible factors include:

  1. Environment - excessive adoration or criticism by parents during childhood.

  2. Neurobiology - problems with the brain and behavior connection.

  3. Genetics.

Risk Factors:

How Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

There is no specific lab test that can diagnose this personality disorder. But your doctor might suggest X-rays and blood tests to rule out other conditions that can result in similar signs and symptoms.

For NPD diagnosis, the patient must show the following criteria written in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which was published by the APA (American Psychiatric Association):

  1. Exaggerated importance and idea of self.

  2. The patient’s thoughts are dominated by fantasies about money, power, beauty, and success.

  3. The patient believes that he or she is special, and relates only to other people that they consider special.

  4. A constant need to be admired.

  5. They feel that they are entitled to most things.

  6. Try to manipulate and use others for self-gain.

  7. Inability to feel and recognize others’ feelings or lack of empathy.

  8. Envious of others.

  9. They behave arrogantly.

What Are the Treatment Options of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The treatment options include:

Psychotherapy - Otherwise called talk therapy. Psychotherapy is the most commonly used treatment option for narcissistic personality disorder. The benefits of psychotherapy are:

This therapy often lasts for a short time and helps you manage things during a crisis.

Medications - There is no specific group of medicines that are used to treat narcissistic personality disorder. But your doctor will prescribe medicines, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs if you show symptoms of depression or anxiety.

What Are the Possible Complications of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Some of the possible complications and other conditions that can occur with narcissistic personality disorder are:

  1. Relationship problems.

  2. Depression.

  3. Anxiety.

  4. Drug abuse.

  5. Alcoholism.

  6. Suicidal thoughts.

Most patients with NPD feel that therapy is not worth their time and often end up quitting. But the important thing to remember is that sticking to your treatment plan is the key. Make sure you attend all your sessions and take all prescribed medicines without skipping them. If you are alcoholic or use drugs or have some other mental health disorder, then get it treated as soon as possible. Stay focused and keep your goals in mind. Remember that you are getting treatment for a reason and only hard work can help repair your relationships.

To know more about ways to manage narcissistic personality disorder, consult a psychiatrist online now!

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Last reviewed at:
21 Jun 2022  -  5 min read




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