What is narcissistic personality disorder?

Dear Daughters,

In life you are going to encounter a ton of different personality types.  The type below is especially hard to label but with more and more research we are finally getting a handle on it.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves.

The causes of this disorder are unknown. An overly sensitive personality and parenting problems may affect the development of this disorder. It may also be linked to a dysfunctional childhood, wherein there were high expectations for the child or abuse or neglect. Children who learn from their parents that it is unacceptable to be vulnerable may lose their ability to empathize with others’ needs. As they grow, these people may continue to mask their emotional needs with egotistical behavior

Genetics and the connection between the brain and behavior may also contribute.

A person with narcissistic personality disorder may:

  • React to criticism with rage, shame or humiliation
  • Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
  • Have excessive feelings of self-importance
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal love
  • Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  • Need constant attention and admiration
  • Disregard the feelings of others and have little ability to feel empathy
  • Have obsessive self-interest
  • Pursue mainly selfish goals.

There are no laboratory tests to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder. Some features of the disorder are also similar to other personality disorders. Thus, it is possible to be diagnosed with more than one personality disorder at the same time.

Like other personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Diagnosing narcissistic personality disorder requires meeting criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the manual published by the American Psychiatric Association. Criteria includes:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power or beauty
  • Believing that you are special and can associate only with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Having an inability to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner.

Psychotherapy (for example, talk therapy) may help the affected person relate to other people in a more positive and compassionate way. Group or family therapy may also be helpful.

The goal is to reshape the personality to change patterns of thinking that distort one’s self-image and create a more realistic self-image. Success depends on the severity of the disorder.

I hope this was informative!

As Always,

Love Mom

Resources

U.S. National Library of Medicine: www.nlm.nih.gov

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