A person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is described as conceited, in need of consistent approval, and having no regard for anyone’s feelings but their own. In addition, they feel superior to others and expect everyone else to comply with their demands. Males are more likely to suffer from the condition than females. People who display .
It can be very difficult when you meet someone that seems to have a great sense of self only to find out that is the only sense that they have. Narcissistic personality disorder can be very hard to live with. Discovering that you are dating someone that has narcissistic personality disorder can be a real let down and it may be something that you cannot easily detect at first.
This disorder in named for Narcissus of Greek legend who fell in love with his own reflection. Dating someone with narcissistic disorder is sort of like living with someone that loves themselves above all else but it is not quite as simple as that. These are high maintenance people that “work harder than anyone else” that “dress better than anyone else” that are “smarter” “faster” “prettier” “ more loving” you name it and they have the market cornered on everything and anything. Combined with all of the above a true narcissist does not have a lot of empathy for other people or their situations, they also require constant attention which can quickly get old and draining.
The Signs The signs do not typically present themselves right away. You may think that this person is a great person that takes good care of themselves. They may seem to just be self-involved at times and the little clues over time become much more obvious.
When you are dating a narcissist you will notice that they dominate every conversation allowing you to barely get a word in edge wise. Most of the conversations that they hold are relative to who they are and what they want you to understand about their life or their situation. Another clear sign is when someone gets “annoyed” when you try to take over the conversation or even worse they blow you off and just talk over you. Of course if what you have to say is about the person than the conversation would be fine and they will gladly join in.
Envy of others that verge on obsessive is another sign and the belief that people are envious of them is also prevalent. There is also an element of having to associate only with people that are of like greatness. There will also be a load of conversations about why family and friends are inferior.. They will find fault with both yours and their own friends and family.
They will find error with just about everyone and the closer you get the quicker you will become the main focus of the belittling and rude comments.
Everyone likes to have their ego stroked once in a while but a narcissist demands it. If you cannot than you will likely not be together for too long. They demand to be told that they are the best at just about everything because they really do believe it and take serious insult if you should complement someone else. Criticism even in the smallest form can cause a reaction that ranges from sulking to throwing a full out grown up tantrum with banging things and vehement denial that you are mistaken.
Unfortunately this type of behavior escalates as you proceed forward with the relationship. The more comfortable the narcissist is with the relationship the more obvious the symptoms of this disorder become.
Understand that all of the symptoms are actually cover up for feelings of insecurity, shame or feelings of inadequacy. There is no known cause for this type of personality disorder and the treatment is largely dependent on the participation of the narcissist, which can be a difficult.
Most narcissists do not believe that there is anything wrong with them. Can you help a narcissist? “Curing” a narcissist is not something you can take on alone.
It can take literally years for a narcissist to readjust their ways. There are no quick fixes and there are no medications that can treat this personality disorder. Only psychotherapy can help and there is no particular time limit. It can take years to help a narcissist to get to a place where they can be empathetic to others and find a way to focus on something besides themselves.
Successful treatment requires 100% cooperation. Of course as mentioned earlier to get treatment one would need to realize that something is not quite right. Narcissists are not typically willing to come to terms with this disorder so most do not seek help or do they get help.
If you are dating a narcissist than you are at a crossroads and have to decide if you can deal with the situation as is or if it is best for you to leave the relationship. If you are not up to the challenges it is best if you leave the relationship or you will find yourself in a very unhappy place. Filed Under: Primary Sidebar
best date someone with narcissistic personality disorder - Dealing with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
"Megalomania" redirects here. For other uses, see . Narcissistic personality disorder ( NPD) is a with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by , excessive need for , and a lack of . Those affected often spend much time thinking about achieving or success, or on their . They often take advantage of the . The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of social situations. Narcissistic personality disorder Synonyms Megalomania by , gazing at his own reflection Symptoms , excessive need for , lack of Usual onset Early adulthood Duration Long term Causes Unknown , substance abuse, depressive disorders, Treatment Difficult Frequency 1% The cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown.
It is a personality disorder classified within by the (DSM). Diagnosis is made by a healthcare professional interviewing the person in question. The condition needs to be differentiated from and . Treatments have not been well-studied. is often difficult as people with the disorder frequently do not consider themselves to have a problem. About one percent of people are believed to be affected at some point in their life.
It appears to occur more often in males than females and affects young people more than older people. The personality was first described in 1925 by , and the term NPD came into use in 1968.
People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are characterized by persistent , excessive need for , and a personal disdain and lack of for others. As such, the person with NPD usually displays arrogance and a distorted sense of superiority, and they seek to establish over others. Self-confidence (a strong sense of self) is different from narcissistic personality disorder; people with NPD typically value themselves over others to the extent that they openly disregard the feelings and wishes of others, and expect to be treated as superior, regardless of their actual status or achievements.
Moreover, the person with narcissistic personality disorder usually exhibits a fragile ego (), intolerance of criticism, and a tendency to belittle others in order to validate their own superiority. The indicates that persons with NPD usually display some or all of the following symptoms, typically without the commensurate qualities or accomplishments: • Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people • Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
• Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions • Needing continual admiration from others • Sense of to special treatment and to obedience from others • Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain • Unwilling to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people • Intensely envious of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them • Pompous and arrogant demeanor Narcissistic personality disorder usually develops in adolescence or early adulthood.
It is not uncommon for children and adolescents to display traits similar to those of NPD, but such occurrences are usually transient, and below the criteria for a diagnosis of NPD. True symptoms of NPD are pervasive, apparent in varied situations, and rigid, remaining consistent over time. The NPD symptoms must be sufficiently severe that they significantly impair the person's capabilities to develop meaningful human relationships.
Generally, the symptoms of NPD also impair the person's psychological abilities to function, either at work, or school, or important social settings. The DSM-5 indicates that the traits manifested by the person must substantially differ from cultural norms, in order to qualify as symptoms of NPD.
Associated features People with NPD tend to exaggerate their skills, accomplishments, and their level of intimacy with people they consider high-status. This sense of superiority may cause them to monopolize conversations or to become impatient or disdainful when others talk about themselves.
When their own ego is wounded by a real or perceived criticism, their anger can be disproportionate to the situation, but typically, their actions and responses are deliberate and calculated. Despite occasional flare-ups of insecurity, their self-image is primarily stable (i.e., overinflated). To the extent that people are pathologically narcissistic, they can be , blaming, self-absorbed, intolerant of others' views, unaware of others' needs and the effects of their behavior on others, and insist that others see them as they wish to be seen.
Narcissistic individuals use various strategies to protect the self at the expense of others. They tend to devalue, derogate, insult, and blame others, and they often respond to threatening feedback with anger and hostility. Since the fragile ego of individuals with NPD is hypersensitive to perceived criticism or defeat, they are prone to feelings of , humiliation, and worthlessness over minor or even imagined incidents.
They usually mask these feelings from others with feigned humility or by isolating themselves socially, or they may react with outbursts of rage, defiance, or by seeking revenge. The merging of the "inflated self-concept" and the "actual self" is seen in the inherent grandiosity of narcissistic personality disorder. Also inherent in this process are the defense mechanisms of , . According to the DSM-5: "Many highly successful individuals display personality traits that might be considered narcissistic.
Only when these traits are inflexible, maladaptive, and persisting and cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress do they constitute narcissistic personality disorder." Due to the high-functionality associated with narcissism, some people may not view it as an impairment in their lives. Although overconfidence tends to make individuals with NPD ambitious, it does not necessarily lead to success and high achievement professionally.
These individuals may be unwilling to compete or may refuse to take any risks in order to avoid appearing like a failure. In addition, their inability to tolerate setbacks, disagreements, or criticism, along with lack of empathy, make it difficult for such individuals to work cooperatively with others or to maintain long-term professional relationships with superiors and colleagues. The causes of narcissistic personality disorder are unknown. Experts tend to apply a of causation, meaning that a combination of environmental, social, genetic and neurobiological factors are likely to play a role in formulating a narcissistic personality.
Genetic There is evidence that narcissistic personality disorder is heritable, and individuals are much more likely to develop NPD if they have a family history of the disorder. Studies on the occurrence of personality disorders in twins determined that there is a moderate to high for narcissistic personality disorder.
However, the specific and that contribute to its cause—and how they may influence the developmental and physiological processes underlying this condition—have yet to be determined. Environment Environmental and social factors are also thought to have a significant influence on the onset of NPD. In some people, pathological narcissism may develop from an impaired to their primary caregivers, usually their parents.
This can result in the child's perception of himself/herself as unimportant and unconnected to others. The child typically comes to believe they have some personality defect that makes them unvalued and unwanted. Overindulgent, permissive parenting as well as insensitive, over-controlling parenting, are believed to be contributing factors. According to Leonard Groopman and Arnold Cooper, the following have been identified by various researchers as possible factors that promote the development of NPD: • An oversensitive (personality traits) at birth.
• Excessive admiration that is never balanced with realistic feedback. • Excessive for good behaviors or excessive for bad behaviors in childhood. • Overindulgence and overvaluation by parents, other family members, or peers. • Being praised for perceived exceptional looks or abilities by adults. • Severe in childhood. • Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents. • Learning behaviors from parents or peers. • Valued by parents as a means to regulate their own .
Cultural elements are believed to influence the prevalence of NPD as well since NPD traits have been found to be more common in modern societies than in traditional ones. There is little research into the neurological underpinnings of narcissistic personality disorder. However, recent research has identified a structural abnormality in the brains of those with narcissistic personality disorder, specifically noting less volume of in the left anterior . Another study has associated the condition with reduced gray matter in the .
The brain regions identified in the above studies are associated with , , , and cognitive functioning. These findings suggest that narcissistic personality disorder is related to a compromised capacity for emotional empathy and emotional regulation. DSM-5 The formulation of narcissistic personality disorder in the 's (APA) (DSM-IV-TR) was criticised for failing to describe the range and complexity of the disorder. Critics said it focuses overly on "the narcissistic individual's external, symptomatic, or social interpersonal patterns—at the expense of ...
internal complexity and individual suffering", which they argued reduced its clinical utility. The Personality and Personality Disorders Work Group originally proposed the elimination of NPD as a distinct disorder in as part of a major revamping of the diagnostic criteria for personality disorders, replacing a categorical with a dimensional approach based on the severity of dysfunctional personality trait domains.
Some clinicians objected to this, characterizing the new diagnostic system as an "unwieldy conglomeration of disparate models that cannot happily coexist" and may have limited usefulness in clinical practice. The general move towards a dimensional (personality trait-based) view of the Personality Disorders has been maintained despite the reintroduction of NPD. ICD-10 The 's (WHO) (ICD-10) lists narcissistic personality disorder under Other specific personality disorders.
It is a requirement of ICD-10 that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of . Subtypes While the DSM-5 regards narcissistic personality disorder as a homogeneous syndrome, there is evidence for variations in its expression.
In a 2015 paper, two major presentations of narcissism are typically suggested, an "overt" or "grandiose" subtype, characterized by grandiosity, arrogance, and boldness, and a "covert" or "vulnerable" subtype characterized by defensiveness and hypersensitivity.
Those with "narcissistic grandiosity" express behavior "through interpersonally exploitative acts, lack of empathy, intense envy, aggression, and exhibitionism." Psychiatrist described the subtype, which he referred to as the "oblivious" subtype as being grandiose, arrogant, and thick-skinned.
The subtype of "narcissistic vulnerability" entails (on a conscious level) "helplessness, emptiness, low self-esteem, and shame, which can be expressed in the behavior as being socially avoidant in situations where their self-presentation is not possible so they withdraw, or the approval they need/expect is not being met." Gabbard described this subtype, which he referred to as the "" subtype as being easily hurt, oversensitive, and ashamed.
In addition, a "high-functioning" presentation, where there is less impairment in the areas of life where those with a more severe expression of the disorder typically have difficulties in, is suggested. suggested five subtypes of narcissism. However, there are few pure variants of any subtype, and the subtypes are not recognized in the DSM or ICD. Subtype Description Personality traits Unprincipled narcissist Including features.
Deficient conscience; unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive; a con artist and charlatan; dominating, contemptuous, vindictive. Amorous narcissist Including features. Sexually seductive, enticing, beguiling, tantalizing; glib and clever; disinclined to real intimacy; indulges hedonistic desires; bewitches and inveigles others; pathological lying and swindling.
Tends to have many affairs, often with exotic partners. narcissist Including and features Seeks to counteract or cancel out deep feelings of and lack of self-esteem; offsets deficits by creating illusions of being superior, exceptional, admirable, noteworthy; self-worth results from self-enhancement.
narcissist Variant of pure pattern Feels privileged and empowered by virtue of special childhood status and pseudo-achievements; entitled façade bears little relation to reality; seeks favored and good life; is upwardly mobile; cultivates special status and advantages by association.
Normal narcissist Absent of the traits of the other four Least severe and most interpersonally concerned and empathetic, still entitled and deficient in reciprocity; bold in environments, self-confident, competitive, seeks high targets, feels unique; talent in leadership positions; expecting of recognition from others.
Possible additional categories not cited by the current theory of Millon might include: Subtype Description Personality traits narcissist Including features Grandiose delusions are irrational and flimsy; pretentious, expensive supercilious contempt and arrogance toward others; lost pride reestablished with extravagant claims and fantasies.
Reclassified under paranoid personality disorder. narcissist Mix of Millon's initial four subtypes Hedonistic and self-deceptive, avoidant of responsibility and blame, shifted onto others; idiosyncratic, often self-biographical, proud of minor quirks and achievements, conflict-averse and sensitive to rejection; procrastinative, self-undoing, , ruminantly introspective; the most prone to which replace social life Including , and features.
Fearless, guiltless, remorseless, calculating, ruthless, inhumane, callous, brutal, rancorous, aggressive, biting, merciless, vicious, cruel, spiteful; hateful and jealous; anticipates betrayal and seeks punishment; desires revenge; has been isolated, and is potentially suicidal or homicidal.
Will Titshaw also suggested three subtypes of narcissistic personality disorder which are not officially recognized in any editions of the DSM or the ICD. [ ] Subtype Description Description Pure Narcissist Mainly just NPD characteristics. Someone who has narcissistic features described in the DSM and ICD and lacks features from other personality disorders. Attention Narcissist Including histrionic (HPD) features.
They display the traditional NPD characteristics described in the ICD & DSM along with histrionic features due to the fact that they think they are superior and therefore they should have everyone's attention, and when they do not have everyone's attention they go out of their way to capture the attention of as many people as possible.
Beyond The Rules Narcissist Including antisocial (ASPD) features. This type of narcissist thinks that because they are so superior to everyone they do not have to follow the rules like most people and therefore show behavior included in the ICD for dissocial personality disorder and behavior, included in the DSM for antisocial personality disorder.
Comorbidity NPD has a high rate of with other mental disorders. Individuals with NPD are prone to bouts of depression, often meeting criteria for co-occurring . In addition, NPD is associated with , , and , especially . As far as other personality disorders, NPD may be associated with , , , and .
Narcissistic personality disorder is rarely the primary reason for people seeking mental health treatment. When people with NPD enter treatment, it is typically prompted by life difficulties or to seek relief from another disorder, such as , , , or , or at the insistence of relatives and friends. [ ] This is partly because individuals with NPD generally have poor and their perception and behavior as inappropriate and problematic due to their very positive .
Treatment for NPD is centered around . In the 1960s, and challenged the conventional wisdom of the time by outlining clinical strategies for using psychoanalytic psychotherapy with clients with NPD that they claimed were effective in treating the disorder.
Contemporary treatment modalities commonly involve , , and therapies. Some improvement might be observed through the treatment of symptoms related to comorbid disorders with psychopharmaceuticals, but as of 2016 , according to Elsa Ronningstam, psychologist at , "Alliance building and engaging the patient's sense of agency and reflective ability are essential for change in pathological narcissism." Pattern change strategies performed over a long period of time are used to increase the ability of those with NPD to become more empathic in everyday relationships.
To help modify their sense of entitlement and self-centeredness schema, the strategy is to help them identify how to utilize their unique talents and to help others for reasons other than their own personal gain.
This is not so much to change their self-perception of their "entitlement" feeling but more to help them empathize with others. Another type of treatment would be temperament change. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy may be effective in treating NPD, but therapists must recognize the patient's traits and use caution in tearing down narcissistic defenses too quickly.
[ ] Anger, rage, impulsivity, and impatience can be worked on with skill training. Therapy may not be effective because patients may receive feedback poorly and defensively.
and are prevalent, but the most common would be depression. [ ] has its benefits, as the effectiveness of receiving peer feedback rather than the clinician's may be more accepted, but group therapy can also contradict itself as the patient may show "demandingness, , social isolation and withdrawal, and socially deviant behavior".
Researchers originally thought group therapy among patients with NPD would fail because it was believed that group therapy required empathy that NPD patients lack.
However, studies show group therapy does hold value for patients with NPD because it lets them explore boundaries, develop trust, increase self-awareness, and accept feedback. Relationship therapy stresses the importance of learning and applying four basic interpersonal skills: "...effective expression, empathy, discussion and problem solving/conflict resolution". [ ] is most beneficial when both partners participate. No are indicated for treating NPD, but may be used to treat co-occurring mental conditions or symptoms that may be associated with it such as depression, anxiety, and impulsiveness if present.
The effectiveness of and interventions in the treatment of narcissistic personality disorder has yet to be systematically and empirically investigated.
Clinical practice guidelines for the disorder have not yet been created, and current treatment recommendations are largely based on theoretical models of NPD and the experiences of clinicians with afflicted individuals in clinical settings. The presence of NPD in patients undergoing psychotherapy for the treatment of other mental disorders is associated with slower treatment progress and higher dropout rates.
Lifetime prevalence of NPD is estimated at 1% in the general population and 2% to 16% in clinical populations. A 2010 found the prevalence of NPD to be between 0% to 6% in community samples. There is a small gender difference, with men having a slightly higher incidence than in women. According to a 2015 meta-analysis that looked at gender differences in NPD, there has recently been a debate about a perceived increase in the prevalence of NPD among younger generations and among women.
However, the authors found that this was not reflected in the data and that the prevalence has remained relatively stable for both genders over the last 30 years (when data on the disorder were first collected). The to describe excessive vanity and self-centeredness predates by many years the modern medical classification of narcissistic personality disorder.
The condition was named after , a youth who became infatuated with his own reflection in a lake. He did not realize at first that it was his own reflection, but when he did, he died out of grief for having fallen in love with someone that did not exist outside himself.
The term "narcissistic personality structure" was introduced by in 1967 and "narcissistic personality disorder" first proposed by in 1968. Early Freudianism commented, regarding the adult neurotic's sense of omnipotence, "this belief is a frank acknowledgement of a relic of the old megalomania of infancy".
He similarly concluded: "we can detect an element of megalomania in most other forms of disorder. We are justified in assuming that this megalomania is essentially of an infantile nature and that, as development proceeds, it is sacrificed to social considerations". also considered megalomania to be normal in the child, and for it to be reactivated in later life in .
states that, for those who react in later life to narcissistic with , a similar to the megalomania of childhood is taking place. Object relations Whereas Freud saw megalomania as an obstacle to , in the second half of the 20th century, , both in the United States and among British , set about revaluing megalomania as a that offered potential access for therapy.
Such an approach built on 's view of narcissistic megalomania as an aspect of normal development, by contrast with 's consideration of such grandiosity as a pathological development distortion.
In popular culture, narcissistic personality disorder has been called megalomania. Fiction An article on the Victorian Web argues that Rosamond Vincy, in 's (1871–72), is a full-blown narcissist as defined by the DSM. In the film , 's character wants to appear on television at all costs, even if this involves murdering her husband.
A psychiatric assessment of her character noted: "[she] was seen as a prototypical narcissistic person by the raters: on average, she satisfied 8 of 9 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder... had she been evaluated for personality disorders, she would receive a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder". Other examples in popular fiction include television characters Adam Demamp (portrayed by in ) and (portrayed by in ).
A Norwegian study concluded that narcissism should be conceived as personality dimensions pertinent to the whole range of PDs rather than as a distinct diagnostic category. Alarcón and Sarabia, in examining past literature on the disorder, concluded that narcissistic personality disorder "shows inconsistency and that its consideration as a trait domain with needed further research would be strongly beneficial to the field".
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Narcissistic Personality Disorder Tips for Spotting and Coping with a Narcissist Are you in a frustrating relationship with someone who expects constant attention and admiration, but doesn’t seem able to take your needs and feelings into consideration? Someone who thinks they’re better than everyone else and should be treated accordingly? Who dishes out insults and condescension, but flies off the handle at the slightest disagreement or whiff of criticism? If so, you may be dealing with a narcissist.
Learn what you need to know about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) so you can spot the narcissists in your life, protect yourself from their power plays, and establish healthier boundaries. What is narcissistic personality disorder? The word narcissism gets tossed around a lot in our selfie-obsessed, celebrity-driven culture, often to describe someone who seems excessively vain or full of themselves.
But in psychological terms, narcissism doesn’t mean self-love—at least not of a genuine sort. It’s more accurate to say that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are in love with an idealized, grandiose image of themselves. And they’re in love with this inflated self-image precisely because it allows them to avoid deep feelings of insecurity. But propping up their delusions of grandeur takes a lot of work—and that’s where the dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors come in.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration.
Others often describe people with NPD as cocky, manipulative, selfish, patronizing, and demanding. This way of thinking and behaving surfaces in every area of the narcissist’s life: from work and friendships to family and love relationships. People with narcissistic personality disorder are extremely resistant to changing their behavior, even when it’s causing them problems.
Their tendency is to turn the blame on to others. What’s more, they are extremely sensitive and react badly to even the slightest criticisms, disagreements, or perceived slights, which they view as personal attacks.
For the people in the narcissist’s life, it’s often easier just to go along with their demands to avoid the coldness and rages. Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder Grandiose sense of self-importance Grandiosity is the defining characteristic of narcissism. More than just arrogance or vanity, grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority. Narcissists believe they are unique or “special” and can only be understood by other special people.
What’s more, they are too good for anything average or ordinary. They only want to associate and be associated with other high-status people, places, and things. Narcissists also believe that they’re better than everyone else and expect recognition as such—even when they’ve done nothing to earn it. They will often exaggerate or outright lie about their achievements and talents.
And when they talk about work or relationships, all you’ll hear is how much they contribute, how great they are, and how lucky the people in their lives are to have them. They are the undisputed star and everyone else is at best a bit player. Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur Since reality doesn’t support their grandiose view of themselves, narcissists live in a fantasy world propped up by distortion, self-deception, and magical thinking.
They spin self-glorifying fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, attractiveness, and ideal love that make them feel special and in control. These fantasies protect them from feelings of inner emptiness and shame, so facts and opinions that contradict them are ignored or rationalized away. Anything that threatens to burst the fantasy bubble is met with extreme defensiveness and even rage, so those around the narcissist learn to tread carefully around their denial of reality.
Needs constant praise and admiration A narcissist’s sense of superiority is like a balloon that gradually loses air without a steady stream of applause and recognition to keep it inflated. The occasional compliment is not enough. Narcissists need constant food for their ego, so they surround themselves with people who are willing to cater to their obsessive craving for affirmation. These relationships are very one-sided.
It’s all about what the admirer can do for the narcissist, never the other way around. And if there is ever an interruption or diminishment in the admirer’s attention and praise, the narcissist treats it as a betrayal. Sense of entitlement Because they consider themselves special, narcissists expect favorable treatment as their due.
They truly believe that whatever they want, they should get. They also expect the people around them to automatically comply with their every wish and whim. That is their only value. If you don’t anticipate and meet their every need, then you’re useless. And if you have the nerve to defy their will or “selfishly” ask for something in return, prepare yourself for aggression, outrage, or the cold shoulder.
Exploits others without guilt or shame Narcissists never develop the ability to identify with the feelings of others—to put themselves in other people’s shoes. In other words, they lack empathy. In many ways, they view the people in their lives as objects—there to serve their needs. As a consequence, they don’t think twice about taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
Sometimes this interpersonal exploitation is malicious, but often it is simply oblivious. Narcissists simply don’t think about how their behavior affects others. And if you point it out, they still won’t truly get it.
The only thing they understand is their own needs. Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others Narcissists feel threatened whenever they encounter someone who appears to have something they lack—especially those who are confident and popular.
They’re also threatened by people who don’t kowtow to them or who challenge them in any way. Their defense mechanism is contempt. The only way to neutralize the threat and prop up their own sagging ego is to put those people down. They may do it in a patronizing or dismissive way as if to demonstrate how little the other person means to them.
Or they may go on the attack with insults, name-calling, bullying, and threats to force the other person back into line. Don’t fall for the fantasy Narcissists can be very magnetic and charming. They are very good at creating a fantastical, flattering self-image that draw us in. We’re attracted to their apparent confidence and lofty dreams—and the shakier our own self-esteem, the more seductive the allure. It’s easy to get caught up in their web, thinking that they will fulfill our longing to feel more important, more alive.
But it’s just a fantasy, and a costly one at that. Your needs won’t be fulfilled (or even recognized). It’s important to remember that narcissists aren’t looking for partners; they’re looking for obedient admirers. Your sole value to the narcissist is as someone who can tell them how great they are to prop up their insatiable ego. Your desires and feelings don’t count.
Look at the way the narcissist treats others. If the narcissist lies, manipulates, hurts, and disrespects others, he or she will eventually treat you the same way. Don’t fall for the fantasy that you’re different and will be spared. Take off the rose-colored glasses. It’s important to see the narcissist in your life for who they really are, not who you want them to be.
Stop making excuses for bad behavior or minimizing the hurt it’s causing you. Denial will not make it go away. The reality is that narcissists are very resistant to change, so the true question you must ask yourself is whether you can live like this indefinitely. Focus on your own dreams. Instead of losing yourself in the narcissist’s delusions, focus on the things you want for yourself. What do you want to change in your life? What gifts would you like to develop?
What fantasies do you need to give up in order to create a more fulfilling reality? Set healthy boundaries Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect and caring.
But narcissists aren’t capable of true reciprocity in their relationships. It isn’t just that they’re not willing; they truly aren’t able. They don’t see you. They don’t hear you. They don’t recognize you as someone who exists outside of their own needs. Because of this, narcissists regularly violate the boundaries of others.
What’s more, they do so with an absolute sense of entitlement. Narcissists think nothing of going through or borrowing your possessions without asking, snooping through your mail and personal correspondence, eavesdropping on conversations, barging in without an invitation, stealing your ideas, and giving you unwanted opinions and advice.
They may even tell you what to think and feel. It’s important to recognize these violations for what they are, so you can begin to create healthier boundaries where your needs are respected.
Make a plan. If you have a long-standing pattern of letting others violate your boundaries, it’s not easy to take back control. Set yourself up for success by carefully considering your goals and the potential obstacles. What are the most important changes you hope to achieve? Is there anything you’ve tried in the past with the narcissist that worked?
Anything that hasn’t? What is the balance of power between you and how will that impact your plan? How will you enforce your new boundaries? Answering these questions will help you evaluate your options and develop a realistic plan. Consider a gentle approach.
If preserving your relationship with the narcissist is important to you, you will have to tread softly. By pointing out their hurtful or dysfunctional behavior, you are damaging their self-image of perfection. Try to deliver your message calmly, respectfully, and as gently as possible.
Focus on how their behavior makes you feel, rather than on their motivations and intentions. If they respond with anger and defensiveness, try to remain calm. Walk away if need be and revisit the conversation later. Don’t set a boundary unless you’re willing to keep it. You can count on the narcissist to rebel against new boundaries and test your limits, so be prepared. Follow up with any consequences specified.
If you back down, you’re sending the message that you don’t need to be taken seriously. Be prepared for other changes in the relationship.
The narcissist will feel threatened and upset by your attempts to take control of your life. They are used to calling the shots. To compensate, they may step up their demands in other aspects of the relationship, distance themselves to punish you, or attempt to manipulate or charm you into giving up the new boundaries. It’s up to you to stand firm. Don’t take things personally To protect themselves from feelings of inferiority and shame, narcissists must always deny their shortcomings, cruelties, and mistakes.
Often, they will do so by projecting their own faults on to others. It’s very upsetting to get blamed for something that’s not your fault or be characterized with negative traits you don’t possess. But as difficult as it may be, try not to take it personally. It really isn’t about you. Don’t buy into the narcissist’s version of who you are.
Narcissists don’t live in reality, and that includes their views of other people. Don’t let their shame and blame game undermine your self-esteem.
Refuse to accept undeserved responsibility, blame, or criticism. That negativity is the narcissist’s to keep. Don’t argue with a narcissist. When attacked, the natural instinct is to defend yourself and prove the narcissist wrong. But no matter how rational you are or how sound your argument, he or she is unlikely to hear you. And arguing the point may escalate the situation in a very unpleasant way. Don’t waste your breath. Simply tell the narcissist you disagree with their assessment, then move on.
Know yourself. The best defense against the insults and projections of the narcissist is a strong sense of self. When you know your own strengths and weaknesses, it’s easier to reject any unfair criticisms leveled against you.
Let go of the need for approval. It’s important to detach from the narcissist’s opinion and any desire to please or appease them at the expense of yourself.
You need to be okay with knowing the truth about yourself, even if the narcissist sees the situation differently.
Look for support and purpose elsewhere If you’re going to stay in a relationship with a narcissist, be honest with yourself about what you can—and can’t—expect. A narcissist isn’t going to change into someone who truly values you, so you’ll need to look elsewhere for emotional support and personal fulfillment.
Learn what healthy relationships look and feel like. If you come from a narcissistic family, you may not have a very good sense of what a healthy give-and-take relationship is. The narcissistic pattern of dysfunction may feel comfortable to you. Just remind yourself that as familiar as it feels, it also makes you feel bad. In a reciprocal relationship, you will feel respected, listened to, and free to be yourself. Spend time with people who give you an honest reflection of who you are. In order to maintain perspective and avoid buying into the narcissist’s distortions, it’s important to spend time with people who know you as you really are and validate your thoughts and feelings.
Make new friendships , if necessary, outside the narcissist’s orbit. Some narcissists isolate the people in their lives in order to better control them. If this is your situation, you’ll need to invest time into rebuilding lapsed friendships or .
Look for meaning and purpose in , , and hobbies. Instead of looking to the narcissist to make you feel good about yourself, pursue meaningful activities that make use of your talents and allow you to contribute. Recommended reading – Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. (Mayo Clinic) – A guide to symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. (Psych Central) – How to tell if a partner or parent is a narcissist.
(Psych Central) – Whether or not your partner is dealing with a mental health disorder, you’re not responsible for their behaviors. (National Domestic Violence Hotline) Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A. Last updated: November 2018.
10 Early Warning Signs You Could Be Dating a Narcissist.