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Everything You Need to Know About Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Medication for Anxiety and Depression

What is narcissistic personality disorder, and why are people using that term so loosely? The term narcissist has been used widely lately. 

People accuse anyone with higher-than-average confidence or lack of care for others’ feelings of being a narcissist. However, in the light of clinical psychology, a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a serious mental illness that requires clinical diagnostic criteria and treatment, so we at Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic have a primer for you.


Table of Contents

What Does NPD Mean?

The word narcissism is derived from a Greek myth where a man named Narcissus falls in love with his reflection. However, that’s just the start.

Overview of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In our celebrity-obsessed, selfie-obsessed culture, the word “narcissism” is frequently used to describe people who come across as overly vain or full of themselves. However, in psychological terms, narcissism does not imply self-love, at least not a genuine kind. 

It’s more accurate to say that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are in love with an exaggerated, grandiose view of themselves. And they’re in love with their inflated self-image because it protects them from intense insecurities. However, it takes a lot of effort to maintain their delusions of grandeur, which is where dysfunctional attitudes and actions come into play.

An excessive need for admiration, a lack of empathy and consideration for others, and a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior characterize a narcissistic personality disorder. Others frequently characterize those who have NPD as arrogant, cunning, selfish, condescending, and demanding. Every aspect of a narcissist’s life exhibits this way of thinking and acting, from work and friendships to family and romantic relationships. A thorough psychiatric evaluation is needed to diagnose this properly.


Are There Different Narcissistic Personality Disorder Types? 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) can manifest in different forms, and understanding these variations can be crucial for providing empathetic and effective support. While the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) doesn’t officially categorize NPD into subtypes, several theorists and clinicians have identified distinct patterns of behavior that suggest different types of narcissism. Here are some commonly recognized types:


1. Grandiose Narcissism (Overt Narcissism)

This is the most recognized form, characterized by overt expressions of feeling superior, entitlement, and a need for admiration. Individuals with grandiose narcissism often display arrogance, a sense of superiority, and a tendency to exploit others for personal gain. They may seem confident and charismatic but lack empathy and can be dismissive or derogatory toward others.


2. Vulnerable Narcissism (Covert Narcissism)

Contrary to the overt confidence displayed in grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissists may appear shy, sensitive, and insecure. They harbor feelings of inadequacy and suffer from low self-esteem, but like their grandiose counterparts, they also have a deep need for admiration and special treatment. Their narcissism is more hidden, often expressed through passive-aggressiveness and envy.


3. Malignant Narcissism

This type represents a more severe and destructive form of NPD, featuring traits of aggression, paranoia, and contempt towards others. Individuals with malignant narcissism often exhibit antisocial behavior, lack remorse, and may engage in manipulation and exploitation. This type is considered to be on the extreme end of the narcissistic spectrum, with overlapping traits of other personality disorders, like antisocial personality disorder.


4. Communal Narcissism

Communal narcissists see themselves as exceptionally altruistic or supportive, believing they are superior in their ability to help others. They seek admiration through their perceived selflessness and can be very controlling or manipulative, using their “kindness” to garner attention and praise.


5. Somatic Narcissism

Somatic narcissists are preoccupied with their physical appearance and health. They often seek excessive admiration for their body, sexual conquests, or athletic abilities. Their self-esteem is heavily influenced by how they believe others perceive their physical presence and prowess.


6. Cerebral Narcissism

Cerebral narcissists derive their sense of superiority from their intelligence or intellectual achievements. They want to be recognized for their brainpower, expertise, and knowledge, often looking down on those they consider intellectually inferior.

Understanding these types can shed light on the diverse manifestations of narcissistic behaviors and attitudes, emphasizing the need for nuanced and empathetic therapeutic approaches. Each type of NPD presents unique challenges in therapy and interpersonal relationships, requiring tailored strategies for effective engagement and support.

Recognizing the complexity and diversity within narcissistic personality disorder underscores the importance of compassionate, informed care for those affected. By delving into the specifics of each type, therapists and loved ones can better support individuals with NPD on their journey toward self-awareness, growth, and healthier relational dynamics.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms And Signs

NPD symptoms often include many of the following:

  • Frequently irritate others
  • Maintaining relationships is difficult
  • Put themselves first
  • They believe they know the “correct” way
  • The majority of their thoughts and conversations are about themselves
  • Hanker after admiration and attention
  • Exaggerate their abilities and successes
  • Feel special about them
  • Set improbable objectives
  • Have rapid, wide-ranging mood swings
  • Take others’ feelings lightly
  • Do whatever it takes to succeed
  • Imagine having unlimited power, wealth, and success

Issues reported by others:

  • Easily offended
  • Overreacts
  • Unable to tolerate criticism
  • Tries to cover up one’s shortcomings or flaws
  • Refuses to accept accountability
  • Making an effort to influence or manipulate others
  • Hypercompetitive
  • This relates to only those who are deemed to be “on their level.”
  • Flares up in response
  • Insults other people
  • Neglectful on the emotional front
  • Not attentive
  • Frequently makes interruptions
  • Have a high sense of self-worth, but occasionally the opposite is true

What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a complex and multifaceted condition that arises from a blend of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Understanding the roots of NPD and narcissism requires a compassionate look at the interplay of these elements, recognizing the profound impact they can have on an individual’s behavior and personality.


Genetic Factors

Research suggests a genetic predisposition to NPD, indicating that the disorder can run in families. The inheritance of certain personality traits that are linked to narcissism, such as aggressiveness or sensitivity to criticism, may contribute to the development of NPD.


Environmental Influences

The environment in which a person grows up plays a crucial role in the development of NPD. Childhood experiences, particularly those involving parental relationships, are significant. Overly permissive parenting, excessive pampering, or, conversely, extreme criticism and neglect, can contribute to narcissistic traits. Such environments might lead the individual to develop an inflated sense of self-importance or an excessive need for admiration as a defense mechanism against low self-esteem or insecurity.


Psychological Factors

Psychological theories suggest that narcissism may develop as a result of failed attachment relationships during critical developmental stages in childhood. Traumatic experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can also be central to the development of NPD. In some cases, narcissism may emerge as a protective shell to guard against deep-seated feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability.


Cultural Context

Societal and cultural factors also play a role in shaping narcissistic behaviors. Living in a culture that promotes individual achievement, material success, and superficiality can encourage narcissistic tendencies. The rise of social media and the emphasis on personal branding and appearance have also been linked to increased narcissistic behaviors in the broader population.

It’s important to approach the topic of NPD and narcissism with empathy and understanding. Individuals with NPD often struggle with deep internal pain, fear, and insecurity, which can manifest as outwardly narcissistic behaviors. Recognizing the underlying causes of NPD is crucial for providing effective support and treatment, helping those affected to heal and foster healthier relationships with themselves and others.


Risk Factors for the Development of NPD

Under the grand facade, there might be a deep sense of insecurity. Even without the disorder, a person can be narcissistic. They may be arrogant and competitive, but not to the point where it interferes with their daily activities.

It has been demonstrated that narcissists frequently draw people to them because they are alluring, charismatic, and exciting. It’s attractive to have confidence. The traits of narcissistic leaders are frequently present.

The exact cause is unknown. Like most mental disorders and personality disorders, it can be caused by a complex combination of factors, including:

  • Genes
  • Environment, including parent-child relationships
  • Neurobiology (the connection between your behavior and the nervous system)

A recent study found that those praised and constantly praised by their parents may be at greater risk of developing NPD. Again, the opposite. In neglected or abused children, NPD can develop almost as a survival instinct. They may feel they must care for themselves because no one else will.

NPD is more common in men than in women. Plus, it usually occurs in teenagers or young adults.

Common Personality Traits Of NPD

  1. There is an inflated sense of self-worth and entitlement. Deep down, you feel the best, the most successful, and capable [insert compliment here] in any situation. Constant admiration is required.                                                                                      
  2. Your self-esteem is like a knotless balloon that needs constant attention, approval, and validation to keep it inflated. No matter how much someone tells you they love or respect you, it never seems enough.                                                                                                                           
  3. Expect preferential treatment. Whether it’s a favor or an apology you want, you think you deserve it – because you’re superior to everyone around you; they know it and should obey.                             
  4. Exaggerate achievements and talents. You have no problem embellishing facts about your life, CV, and experience – even outright lies.
  1. Respond negatively to criticism. Although you crave control and take full credit when things go well, you’re quick to blame others when things don’t go as planned. It’s extremely difficult to accept criticism or admit mistakes because it’s always someone else’s fault, not yours. Indulge in fantasies of power, success, and beauty.                                                                                                                                              
  2. Inability or consciously unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others. You are very sensitive to how people treat you and respond to your needs and feelings, but on the other hand, you can’t put yourself in other people’s shoes or empathize with their experiences. You may belittle or even bully others into making yourself feel better. You’re also never really “deep” in any of your relationships; honestly, it doesn’t bother you all that much.                                                                                       
  3. Act arrogantly. Because of self-aggrandizement, a sense of superiority and entitlement, you may insist on having the best of everything – the best car, office, designer clothes – monopolize conversations, belittle people you consider “inferior” and associate only with people you think you are just as special, successful and talented.

What is the Treatment for Narcissism and NPD in Terms of Therapy?

Treating Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and narcissistic traits can be challenging but is possible with the right therapeutic approach. Therapy aims to help individuals understand the root causes of their narcissism, develop healthier relationships, and foster a more realistic self-image. Here’s an overview of the therapeutic strategies commonly employed to treat narcissism and NPD:


1. Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy)

The primary treatment for NPD is psychotherapy, often referred to as talk therapy. This form of therapy provides a safe space for individuals to explore their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors under the guidance of a skilled therapist. The goal is to gain insight into the narcissistic patterns and begin the process of change.


2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is effective in addressing the distorted thinking and problematic behaviors associated with narcissism. It helps individuals recognize and challenge their harmful beliefs and replace them with more balanced and realistic thoughts. CBT also focuses on developing empathy and improving interpersonal skills.


3. Psychodynamic Therapy

This approach delves into the unconscious mind and past experiences, particularly childhood, to uncover the roots of narcissistic behaviors. It aims to help individuals understand and resolve their emotional conflicts, leading to a more cohesive and integrated sense of self.


4. Schema Therapy

Schema therapy combines elements of CBT, psychodynamic, and attachment theories to address the deep-seated patterns and themes in an individual’s life, known as schemas, that are contributing to their narcissism. This therapy helps in identifying and changing these negative patterns and coping styles.


5. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Originally developed for treating borderline personality disorder, DBT has been adapted for NPD treatment. It focuses on building skills in mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness, helping individuals with NPD to manage their emotions and improve their relationships.


6. Group Therapy

Participating in group therapy can be beneficial for individuals with NPD, as it exposes them to the perspectives of others, fostering empathy and social skills. It also provides a community where they can receive feedback and support in a structured environment.


7. Family or Couples Therapy

Since narcissism often affects interpersonal relationships, family or couples therapy can be crucial in addressing the broader relational dynamics and promoting healthier interactions.

It’s important to note that individuals with NPD may not always recognize the need for therapy or may resist the idea, often due to the very nature of their disorder. Patience, understanding, and a non-judgmental approach are crucial in encouraging engagement with therapeutic services.

Narcissistic personality disorder supportive therapy focuses on helping individuals understand the underlying causes of their behaviors, develop healthier self-esteem, and improve their relationships with others. While the journey to change can be complex and demanding, with consistent and empathetic therapeutic support, individuals with narcissistic traits can work towards more fulfilling and balanced lives.

Is There Treatment for Narcissism and NPD?

Like other personality disorders, you need to get customized narcissistic personality disorder treatments to overcome this issue. It is hard because the patient doesn’t admit that he needs any treatment for narcissism. However, someone who influences the patient might convince them to seek treatment.

Contact Positive Reset for NPD and Narcissism Treatment

A narcissistic personality disorder is a serious disorder. It is deeply rooted in the person’s thought process. However, with timely recognition and treatment, the person will start to show some betterment. Contact us now to get in touch with a narcissistic personality disorder specialist and set up your first appointment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

A narcissistic personality disorder or NPD is a mental condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Individuals with NPD often exhibit grandiosity, arrogance, and a belief that they are superior to others.

What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The exact cause of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is complex and not fully understood. It is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Early childhood experiences, such as excessive pampering or criticism, may contribute to its development.

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Like?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of self-centeredness, an inflated ego, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. People with NPD often have fragile self-esteem and are sensitive to criticism.

How to Treat Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Treating Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in New Jersey typically involves psychotherapy, particularly dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapists at Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic can help individuals with NPD develop healthier coping strategies and empathy.

What Are the 9 Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is diagnosed using specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The nine criteria include a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive admiration, a sense of entitlement, and lack of empathy, among others.

How Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treated?

In New Jersey, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is typically treated with psychotherapy, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic offers these therapeutic approaches to help individuals with NPD develop healthier behaviors.

At What Age Does Narcissistic Personality Disorder Develop?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) typically manifests in early adulthood or during adolescence. While it may show signs in youth, a formal diagnosis is usually made in adulthood.

How Common Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder in New Jersey?

The prevalence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in New Jersey is estimated to be around 6% of the population. However, it can vary, and diagnosis rates may be influenced by factors such as awareness and access to mental health services.

How to Deal With Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Dealing with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) can be challenging. It’s essential to set boundaries, maintain realistic expectations, and consider seeking support or guidance from therapists, like those at Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic.

Where to Get Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder in New Jersey?

For treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in New Jersey, Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic offers psychotherapy options, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to help individuals with NPD develop healthier coping strategies and empathy.