Personality disorders are much more common than we realize, and some suffer from what is known as narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD. This is actually a mental disorder that causes those affected to think extremely highly of themselves, desperately wanting constant admiration, while caring little for what others feel or think. Although they appear to believe they are superior to everyone else, they actually suffer from low self-esteem and are greatly affected by even the smallest amount of criticism.
As one of the many types of personality disorder (which results in traits that cause people to behave in usually socially unacceptable ways), narcissistic personality disorder can cause all areas of a person’s life to suffer, especially in relationships, school, and work.
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Interestingly enough, this disorder is named after Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. Those who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder tend to be extremely unstable and insecure, which results in setting highly unrealistic goals. The chronic, or lifelong, disorder effects approximately 7.7% of all men and about 4.8% of all women, and is seen more often in African American and Hispanic ethnicities, as well as among younger adults and those who have never suffered a huge life loss, such as a divorce or being widowed.
Most who suffer from NPD will hide their low self-esteem by acting superior, and often shunning those who tell them they are wrong. Also, because of their sense of entitlement, they will not do any deeds for anyone unless they know they will get an immediate reward. Because of the condition, they will not be able to prevent themselves from committing actions deemed inappropriate, which causes their relationships to suffer and makes it hard for them to trust others.
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What Are the Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
The most obvious symptom of those with narcissistic personality disorder is their consistent superior attitude towards everyone, and showing that they believe they are always right and everyone else is simply wrong. Additionally, they will seek out attention in order to feel rewarded, and then will exaggerate what they have done to get such attention. Although they refuse to show how easily they are hurt by what others say, they still manage to set unachievable goals and may be known to take advantage of friends or coworkers to make themselves look even better.
Aside from these most common symptoms, those with NPD may be recognized by obsessing over fantasies involving great success, beauty, or even power – which can result in them always assuming that everyone will simply go with the plan they have created. Unfortunately, they are not able to recognize the feelings or thoughts of those around them, which only heightens their sensitivity to criticism. Lastly, their attitude of being consistently arrogant or rude may be a sign of NPD.
The following are several complications that may arise of narcissistic personality disorder is left untreated. Drug and alcohol abuse seem to be at the forefront as those suffering from this condition may see drugs and alcohol as a way to ease their symptoms, or find something to blame besides themselves. Other complications include depression that can lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior, issues maintaining and trusting others in relationships and, lastly, consistent problems during work or school.
When to See a Doctor
Those with narcissistic personality disorder are likely to refuse to believe anything is wrong with them. In their minds, they are perfect and everything they do is right. However, this personality disorder does affect every area of their life, including financially. For those often feeling neglected by those around them, or consistently find their relationships often go nowhere and are overall confused and unhappy, it may be time to discuss these symptoms with a doctor. Once the proper treatment is given, those suffering from NPD will find a new meaning to life and be able to live with more meaning.
What Are the Causes & Risk Factors of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Unfortunately, the precise cause is not known, but could be linked to childhood treatment, such as neglect or high expectations. Another link may be found in genetics or psychobiology, which refers to the connection of the brain and how we think and behave.
Men are at a much higher risk than women, especially during the early adulthood years. Sometimes symptoms appear during adolescence, but this is more likely due to being a typical teenager than suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.
The common risks for NPD include the following:
- No receiving of affection and/or praise throughout younger years
- Too much affection and/or praise given
- Parents behaving in ways that made the child not believe they could rely on them
- Parents teaching their child various manipulative behaviors
- Emotional and/or Physical Abuse
- Disdain for expressing fears and needs
The above common risks occur when parents try to teach their children how to put on a type of superhero persona – making others believe that nothing can hurt them, which then causes them not to be able to empathize with others while at the same time becoming overly egotistical.
What Are the Treatments for Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
There are four major types of therapies those with narcissistic personality disorder can try: cognitive behavior therapy, psychotherapy, family therapy, and group therapy.
- With cognitive behavior therapy, you will discuss reasons why you have become narcissistic and learn methods for decreasing emotions of anger while increasing emotions of empathy, along with learning better ways to handle criticism.
- Psychotherapy takes a similar approach, but tends to concentrate solely on how you feel about yourself, rather than learning coping methods for the many intense emotions you feel.
- Family therapy means you meet with your entire family and therapist to discuss how best to handle the disorder.
- Group therapy involves attending meetings with others who also suffer from NPD, along with staff that teaches the group how to cope.
When it comes to medications for narcissistic personality disorder, you can take either antianxiety, anti-depressant or anti-psychotic medication, dependent upon how the disorder is specifically affecting you. Antianxiety medicine is used to help you feel calm and relaxed while anti-depressants are given to prevent you from feeling sad and down on yourself constantly. Lastly, anti-psychotics are used to decrease extreme agitation symptoms.