Narcissistic personality disorder 101: Know all about it

The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include a sense of superiority, need for constant admiration, lack of empathy.
A woman reading something on a phone.
People suffering from narcissistic personality disorder have a elevated sense of self. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 28 Jan 2024, 06:00 pm IST
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While self confidence is a valued quality in an individual, an elevated sense of self, obsession with one’s power, beauty and success, arrogance…these are just some of the qualities of someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality disorder. And while these may seem like qualities you often spot in people, there is a huge difference between self confidence and narcissm.

While confident people would never devalue others, people suffering from narcissistic personality disorder disregard the achievements and emotions of those around them, focussing on themselves and looking for others to praise them. Health Shots got in touch with Psychiatrist Dr B Sarathi Goud to understand narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), its symptoms as well as treatment plans.

What is narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is marked by grandiosity, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. “Its origins involve genetic, environmental, psychological, and cultural factors. Treatment includes psychotherapy, medication, group therapy, and family therapy,” explains Dr Goud. Living with NPD requires ongoing therapy, self-reflection, and coping strategies. The disorder’s traits encompass preoccupation with success, entitlement, exploitation, lack of empathy, envy, and arrogance.

A woman looking at herself in the mirror
People diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are constantly looking for praise and admiration. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the traits of narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterised by a range of traits. “These traits collectively form the intricate profile of NPD, a condition with a significant impact on interpersonal relationships and daily functioning,” says Dr Goud.

  • Pervasive sense of superiority (grandiosity)
  • Constant need for excessive admiration
  • Lack of empathy
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Engagement in exploitative behaviour to achieve personal goals
  • Envy and jealousy towards others or the belief that others are envious of them
  • Display of arrogant attitudes and behaviour.

Also Read: How to spot a narcissistic partner: Tell-tale signs and ways to cope

How to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR) is referred to by doctors to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A certain set of criteria such as inflated sense of self-importance, need of constant praise, reacting negative to criticism and others are mentioned in DSM_5_TR. A questionnaire might be provided to the patient, through which healthcare practitioner assess if he has these traits or not.

What are the causes and risk factors of narcissistic personality disorder?

Genetics as well as your background and culture play a big role in this. Read on to find the major causes for this personality disorder:

1. Culture and background

According to this study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, states that the traits that are showcased by a narcissist are more prevalent individualistic cultures than cultures that focus on community.

2. Genetics

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is influenced by genetic predisposition, evidenced by alterations in brain structure.

3. Environmental factors

Other factors such as childhood experiences of excessive praise or criticism, contribute to this disorder as well.

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4. Psychological factors

These factors include specific traits and defense mechanisms like denial. The interplay of these factors contributes to NPD.

A woman in group therapy.
Group therapy can help with narcissistic personality disorder. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the treatment options for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?

The treatment for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) involves a combination of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioural therapy and psychodynamic therapy, to help individuals understand their thoughts and behaviours. “Medications may be prescribed for associated symptoms like depression or anxiety. Group therapy offers a chance for interaction and feedback, while family therapy addresses interpersonal dynamics and improves relationships,” explains Dr Goud. This comprehensive approach aims to provide individuals with NPD the necessary tools for personal growth.

Also Read: How to deal with toxic people: 9 powerful tips

What does it mean to live with narcissistic personality disorder?

Living with NPD can be challenging for both the individual with the disorder and those around them. Coping strategies may include:

  • Regular therapy for insight and healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Activities promoting empathy, setting boundaries
  • Self-reflection
  • Developing interpersonal skills

This comprehensive approach empowers individuals with NPD to navigate challenges and foster positive connections with others. Meanwhile, living with someone who has NPD would also be difficult. While it is important to offer praise and importance when necessary, it is also essential to call them out when they are being rude or inappropriate. This would help in bringing in a sense of awareness in them.


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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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