Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Narcissistic personality disorder facts

  • Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder that is characterized by an established pattern of being fixated on oneself, permeating the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the sufferer, and their relationships with others.
  • People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to alternate between feeling omnipotent and devalued.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder has been found to occur as often as in 6% of adults, more often in men than in women.
  • Like most mental illness, narcissistic personality disorder tends to have biological, psychological, and environmental risk factors that contribute to its development.
  • People with narcissistic personality disorder demonstrate a pervasive pattern of significantly inflated self-esteem, a need to be admired, and lack of empathy for others that begins by early adulthood and manifests in a number of different aspects of their life.
  • While the primary treatment for narcissistic personality disorder is talk therapy rather than medication, medication may be appropriate to address some co-occurring symptoms.
  • One of the major obstacles to a good prognosis for narcissistic individuals is their perception that their problems are caused by others rather than by their own self-centered tendencies.

What is narcissistic personality disorder?

In order to understand narcissistic personality disorder, the concept of personality is important. As with normal personality, that of the person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) has a pervasive way of thinking, feeling, and interacting with others that tends to be fairly established and fixed by the time the individual reaches adulthood. A narcissist is someone who has therefore established a pattern of being fixated on him- or herself that permeates their thoughts, feelings, actions, and relationships.

The word narcissism comes from the story of Narcissus, a hunter in Greek mythology, who was well known for his beauty and for being completely in love with himself. His all-consuming self-love resulted in his eventual death, caused by his becoming so attracted to his own reflection in a pool that he was unable to stop staring at his image.

People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to interact with others and the world in general by distorting things such that they alternate between feeling omnipotent or devalued. Narcissistic personality disorder has an average occurrence rate of about 1% of the population but has been found to occur as often as in 6% of adults.

Narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed more often in men than in women. It is also more often found in people who are involved with the court system compared to the general public. Antisocial personality disorder is an illness that commonly co-occurs with narcissistic personality disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/19/2015

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