WHAT IS NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) isn't just difficult to say without your teeth in, it is a very real mental illness. It occurs in around 6% of the population. Those with NPD will develop an inflated sense of self-importance and can appear selfish.
Similar to Histrionic Personality Disorder, those with the condition will crave the attention and the admiration of other people and feel more entitled to things than others. They may also fantasise about the success they believe they deserve and can give their own life a sense of grandiose or pomp that it may not have.
People living with NPD will believe they should be the figure of primary importance in the lives of people around them. If they're the King, Queen, President or Brian Clough, then that may be acceptable, but most of us aren't. If you are, it's a pleasure to have you here Your Majesty!
You might recognise some these traits in people you know and have passed them off as simply being narcissistic or have a degree of narcissism, but they may have NPD. If not, they may just be an ar***ole.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a long-term condition that demonstrates an enduring pattern of behaviour that differs from the generally accepted 'norm' for that particular culture. Like many personality disorders, it often develops in adolescence.
People with NPD aren't doing it for the obvious reasons, they often are doing it because they feel insignificant or unimportant as a person, which is very rarely the case.
The symptoms of NPD will include some, or all, of the following:
- Inflated sense of self-importance including the exaggeration of their achievements or the expectation of being seen as somehow superior, when there is no evidence to support it.
- Belief that they are in some way special or unique.
- Fantasise about the success, power or beauty they believe they deserve.
- Lack of empathy and an unwillingness to recognise the feelings of others.
- Exploitative of other people, even those close to them.
- A degree of arrogance that is disproportionate to their standing.
Whilst not necessarily gender-specific, Narcissistic Personality Disorder does seem to occur more in men than women. This may be because the 'breadwinner' or 'alpha-male' scenario that NPD supports is more prevalent in men.
Like many personality disorders, NPD is usually only diagnosed in adults during the late-teenage or early stages of adult life. Younger than that, we are all still maturing as people so these signs may occur without being part of a larger problem.
If it is diagnosed in young people (although this is rare), the symptoms must have been present for more than 12 months. For those with NPD, the symptoms tend to become less intense in later years.
WHAT CAUSES NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER?
You won't be suprised to learn that the definitive cause of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is unknown. Most research believe it's a combination of social factors (how you interact with people as you grow up), psychological factors (your personality and how it has been shaped by your environment or how you cope with problems) and biological factors (genetic influences).
WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?
NPD is a long-term condition and the treatments are long-term too. Psychotherapy has proven to be successful at treating this condition, providing the therapist has experience in treating it.
As is often the case, medication can also help too.
If you live with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there may be some organisations on our Where To Turn pages that can help you. If not, and you know of one, please let us know and we'll look into it.