Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), is defined as a mental illness primarily characterized by extreme focus on oneself, and is a maladaptive, rigid, and persistent condition that may cause significant distress and functional impairment. The term was first used by Heinz Kohut in 197 and is a form of pathological narcissism acknowledged in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980, in the edition known as DSM-III.
Narcissistic personality disorder may be a maladaptive defense of the abused child’s or adolescent’s emotional splitting, resultant cognitive distortions, and negative/hostile worldview. People with narcissistic personality disorder also have difficulty recognizing the needs and feelings of others, and are dismissive, contemptuous and impatient when others share or discuss their concerns or problems. They are also oblivious to the hurtfulness of their behaviour or remarks, show an emotional coldness and a lack of reciprocal interest, exhibit envy (especially when others are accorded recognition), have an arrogant, disdainful and patronizing attitude, and are quick to blame and criticise others when their needs and expectations are not met. People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to seek out individuals whom they perceive as equal to their own self-image or to whom they attribute the same special talents and qualities they see in themselves. They may insist on having “the best” of everything – car, athletic club or social circles.
Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The cause of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is unknown at this time, but several theories are being investigated. There is some evidence that genetic predisposition and other biological or biochemical factors are involved for some people. Psychological factors are also involved for most people.
Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Sign and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
It is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Requires excessive admiration
Haughty or arrogant behaviors
Sense of belonging to an exclusive group of people who truly understand each other
Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, extreme self-involvement, and lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are usually arrogantly self-assured and confident. They expect to be noticed as superior. Many highly successful individuals might be considered narcissistic. However, this disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and very disabling or distressing.
Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
People with narcissistic personality disorder may be defensive about the process because they were compelled or encouraged to seek therapy by an employer or family member.
The goals are to help the patient develop a healthy individuality (rather than a resilient narcissism) so that he or she can acknowledge others as separate persons, and to decrease the need for self-defeating coping mechanisms. The first step toward developing a working alliance is empathy with the surprise and hurt that the patient experiences as a result of confrontations within the group. The external structuring group therapy provides can control destructive behavior in spite of ego weakness. In groups, the therapist is less authoritative (and less threatening to the patient’s grandiosity); intensity of emotional experience is lessened; and regression is more controlled, creating a better setting for confrontation and clarification.