What is narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissism is a term used to describe a pre-occupation with the self, and on one’s own wants, needs, and desires. It is self-admiration taken to an extreme, along with a great need to be admired by others. The word "narcissism" comes from a Greek myth in which a handsome young man named Narcissus sees his reflection in a pool of water and falls in love with it, not aware that it is his own image.

NPD is one of a group of 10 conditions identified by the American Psychiatric Association as Personality Disorders. People with these disorders have patterns of thinking, feeling, behaving, and interacting that cause them distress or ongoing problems in their lives. Personality disorder patterns usually begin in the teen years or early adulthood, but may not be recognized or identified until many years later. The condition can continue for many years.

What are other names for narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is also called:

  • Anxious Personality Disorders
  • Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)
  • Dramatic Personality Disorders (DPD)
  • Eccentric Personality Disorders
  • Histrionic
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorders

What traits and characteristics occur in narcissistic personality disorder?

The American Psychiatric Association’s manual (DSM-5) lists the following characteristics, when occurring together, as possibly diagnostic of individuals with NPD:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  • Believes he or she is “special” and unique.
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement.
  • Takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
  • Lacks empathy toward the feelings and needs of others.
  • Shows arrogant or haughty behaviors and attitudes.

Other characteristics of people with narcissistic personality disorder:

People with NPD may believe they are superior or special compared to others. They are very sensitive to perceived criticism. They seem to require excessive admiration, and fail to recognize that other people also have feelings and needs. Such people may seem arrogant and snobbish, while, in reality, their self-esteem may be very fragile.

What causes narcissistic personality disorder?

The exact cause of NPD is not known. Many professionals believe that a combination of biological/genetic factors, individual temperamental patterns, and early life experiences (such as excessive pampering or, alternately, harsh or negative parenting) contributes to the development of NPD.