A narcissistic personality disorder is a form of personality disorder characterised by excessive self-importance and little empathy for other people. It can lead to strains in professional, personal and social relationships. Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is the usual course of treatment taken for narcissistic personality disorder.
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What is a narcissistic personality disorder?
A narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder that causes people to think highly of themselves with little regard for other people’s feelings. People affected by this disorder are usually disappointed and unhappy when others do not give them the attention and respect they believe. This disorder can interfere with all types of relationships. Other people may not want to be around people with this disorder.
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What are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder?
The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include the following:
- An inflated self-esteem
- A constant feeling of entitlement
- A need for continuous, excessive adoration, praise, and appreciation
- An expectation of being held superior to other people, even with nothing that warrants it
- A need to show off achievements and prizes, however small they are
- Having frequent fantasies about the perfect partner, beauty, riches, success, etc
- A superiority complex leads them to believe that they can only get along with equally special people.
- A need to belittle people who they consider to be inferior to them
- An expectation for special treatment and unquestioning compliance with the same.
- An inability to recognise and empathise with other people’s feelings.
- Thinking that other people are constantly envious of them
- Being pretentious, arrogant, and boastful
- A need to have the best things available
- A sense of anger and impatience when not given special treatment
- Receiving criticism very poorly
- Feeling slighted after even the slightest interpersonal problem
- Depression and emotional instability
- Having hidden feelings of humiliation, insecurity, and vulnerability
What are the causes of narcissistic personality disorder?
Like most mental disorders, the exact causes of narcissistic personality disorder are unknown. It usually occurs due to the contribution of three main factors – environment, genetics, and neurobiology. Environmental causes include parents treating their children with excessive criticism or adoration that negatively affects their experience. Sometimes this personality can be inherited. Another common cause of mental health disorders is brain chemistry.
How is narcissistic personality disorder treated?
The primary form of solving narcissistic personality disorder is psychotherapy. If other mental health issues accompany this, the patient may need medication.
Psychotherapy, otherwise known as talk therapy, is the most common and effective treatment for narcissistic personality disorder. It can help a person relate to other people and their feelings and make their relationship more enjoyable, intimate, and rewarding. It can also address the symptoms and help you recognise and understand the causes of your emotions and superiority complex. Therapy can help you manage short-term crises and stressful days or use it long-term to help achieve your goals and live a rewarding life. It often helps to keep a loved one in session with you. Psychotherapy can help you:
- Accept and maintain professional and personal relationships.
- Understand and realise your competence so that you can tolerate criticism.
- Regulate your feelings.
- Understand the impact of problems caused by your self-esteem.
- Let go of your need for unattainable goals and perfect conditions.
- Accept and follow attainable objectives and what you can accomplish.
- Understand and empathise with other people’s feelings.
The doctor might prescribe medication for conditions that often accompany this issue, such as anxiety and depression. They may often prescribe antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs to treat the same. There is no medication to help treat this problem specifically.
What are the tests for a narcissistic personality disorder?
As the signs of these problems are close to the symptoms of most other personality disorders, it can be tough to test for narcissistic personality disorder. The diagnosis for this disorder includes observing the symptoms and a physical examination (to rule out physical ailments), a psychological exam (including surveys and questionnaires), etc. Early diagnosis can improve the efficiency of the treatment.
What are the risk factors for a narcissistic personality disorder?
The risk factors are:
- Gender: Men are more likely to have this mental health condition than women.
- Age: Symptoms of this condition often appear in adolescence and young adulthood. Some children show these traits but do not develop this issue in the future.
- Genetics: You are more likely to develop this disorder if your immediate family members have it.
- Environment: If you grew up in a home environment where excessive admiration or criticism was the norm, it might lead to this disorder.
When to see a doctor
People with this issue often refuse to believe that they are affected by a mental health disorder. Hence, it is not often that they seek treatment. If they do, it is primarily because of symptoms of depression and anxiety. Regardless, treatment can prove quite tricky as they refuse to accept that anything could be wrong with them. If you are a parent and notice symptoms of this condition in your child, you can visit a doctor for professional help.
What are the complications of narcissistic personality disorder?
The complications are:
- Depression and anxiety
- Professional, personal, and social relationship problems
- Issues at work and school
- Physical health problems
- Misuse of drugs and alcohol
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts
How can you help people with narcissistic personality disorder?
As there is no known cause for narcissistic personality disorder, it can prove challenging to prevent it beforehand. It may help to get early treatment for any mental health problem. Family therapy can help maintain healthy relationships and prevent the symptoms of this personality disorder from disrupting the same. Sitting with your loved ones during their sessions can help you understand them and vice versa. It can make it easier to tolerate, live with and take care of them. Sometimes a person suffers from severe issues wherein this person shows manipulative tendencies and sadistic and harmful nature.
However, understanding and treating a narcissistic personality disorder is no easy task. It can take therefore a toll on oneself and the people around them. Hence, it is crucial to notice minor signs and symptoms and speak to a therapist to live an extraordinary life with achievable goals and rewarding relationships. Find a psychotherapist and social worker at United we care.
|M. Kerr, “Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD),” Healthline, 20-Jun-2022. [Online]. Available: https://www.healthline.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder. [Accessed: 30-Aug-2022].
|J. Stone, Narcissistic personality disorder: An unbiased psychological study of Donald trump. North Charleston, SC: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018.