Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Symptoms and Causes

Published on: June 9, 2022 

Do people often describe you as "selfish" or "careless," even though you'd like to be liked by everyone? If so, you might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can rest assured, though—you're not alone! Many people suffer from this condition, but there are ways to manage it.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their importance, a deep need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their life, such as work or school.

NPD is a Cluster B personality disorder, which means it’s part of a group of disorders characterized by dramatic, emotional, or erratic thinking or behavior. Other Cluster B disorders include Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), and Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD).

Mild to Severe Negative Effects of Narcissism

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are often obsessed with power, beauty, and fame. They may be very successful on the surface, but underneath, they have low self-esteem and are often depressed.

The negative effects of narcissism can range from mild to severe:

  • Mild: A mildly narcissistic person might be egotistical or boastful about their accomplishments but still function well in society.
  • Moderate: A person with moderate narcissism might have trouble maintaining healthy relationships with others because they're constantly putting themselves first instead of considering others' needs and their own.
  • Severe: A person with severe narcissism will have severe problems in all areas of life. From work or school performance issues, drug abuse problems, or alcoholism due to low self-esteem stemming from childhood trauma such as physical abuse or neglect during childhood development stages of life (infancy through adolescence).

Symptoms of NPD

The symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder are wide-ranging and often difficult to identify. The following list includes some of the symptoms associated with narcissism. Keep in mind that someone can have many of these without having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Also, remember that some people may describe themselves as narcissistic and may not have any mental health problems.

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that they are "special" and unique and can only be understood by other special people
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations)
  • They are interpersonally exploitative (i.e., take advantage of others to achieve their ends)
  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them
  • An inflated sense of self-importance that often leads to arrogance in social situations (for example, thinking that everyone should listen to your opinion)
  • Believe that they are special or unique and can only be understood by other special people or institutions

Causes of NPD

It's estimated that between 1% and 6% of the U.S. population suffers from NPD. And while it's often seen as something that impacts only celebrities and other public figures, it's prevalent in everyday life.

Here are some of the most common causes of NPD:

  • Genetics:Narcissism can run in families, so if your parents were self-absorbed or narcissistic, there's a good chance you are too.
  • Trauma: When people experience trauma during childhood or adolescence, they may develop narcissistic traits to cope with their feelings of low self-worth and vulnerability. In this case, therapy can help them work through their past experiences, so they don't continue to act out these traits in adulthood.
  • Personality Type:If you're high-strung or anxious by nature, it could be easier for narcissists to manipulate your emotions than those who aren't easily upset by criticism or failure.
  • Abuse:Studies have shown that people with narcissistic personality disorder often experienced abuse as children. It's still unclear whether the abuse caused their narcissism or if they were born with a predisposition towards it.
  • Other mental health conditions:People who have a narcissistic personality disorder may also have other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety disorders.

It's not your fault if you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder!

It's a disorder that can affect people of any age, gender, or background, but it usually appears during adolescence. The causes of the disorder are still unknown, but it's thought to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

There are also some theories about how the brain works in people with NPD. For example, some researchers believe that people with NPD have an overactive reward system in their brains, which means they're more sensitive to getting rewards (like praise from other people).

For more information about Mental Health Conditions. Visit our Mental Health Library page.  To understand and cope with your Dependent Personality Disorder, get help from our Top 10 Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Therapists who are known for providing the best mental health treatment and psychiatry services. To book an appointment please call us at (800) 457-4573 or submit an appointment request

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