What is a narcissist?

A narcissist is a common catchphrase describing someone who acts self-absorbed or vain. What many people don’t know is that narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), is actually a serious condition.

If you have a NPD diagnosis, others may see you as only concerned about your wants and needs or having a never-ending need for compliments. But inside, you may feel insecure, less-than and empty. Having NPD makes it hard to relate to others or have genuine self-worth. It can affect relationships with your family, friends and co-workers.

How common is narcissistic personality disorder?

Experts estimate that up to 5% of people have NPD. Narcissism is one of 10 personality disorders. These disorders cause people to think, feel and behave in ways that hurt themselves or others. Signs of personality disorders usually appear in the late teen years and early adulthood.

What causes narcissistic personality disorder?

The exact cause of NPD is not known. The disorder may result from a combination of factors that include:

  • Childhood trauma (such as physical, sexual and verbal abuse).
  • Early relationships with parents, friends and relatives.
  • Genetics (family history).
  • Hypersensitivity to textures, noise or light in childhood.
  • Personality and temperament.

What are narcissistic traits (characteristics)?

Healthcare providers diagnose NPD when you have at least five of the following characteristics:

  • Overinflated sense of self-importance.
  • Constant thoughts about being more successful, powerful, smart, loved or attractive than others.
  • Feelings of superiority and desire to only associate with high-status people.
  • Need for excessive admiration.
  • Sense of entitlement.
  • Willingness to take advantage of others to achieve goals.
  • Lack of understanding and consideration for other people’s feelings and needs.
  • Arrogant or snobby behaviors and attitudes.

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