Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

We live in a world that seems obsessed with celebrity, fame, physical appearance, success, and money. Social media serves to reinforce this, so it is no surprise that we sometimes refer to people as being narcissists because they are vain or full of themselves at times.

However we should not confuse this with people who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder as it is a serious mental health condition.  NPD is one of ten different personality disorders and is believed to affect around five percent of the population, with symptoms usually starting in the late teens or in early adulthood.

Whilst a person with NPD will show signs of arrogance, self-obsession and lack of empathy for others, this is actually masking the fact that they lack self-confidence and self-esteem and feel vulnerable and fragile, and struggle with criticism.

NPD can have a massive impact on a person’s life, causing them problems at school and work as well as making it extremely difficult to make and maintain friendships and relationships.  It can leave them feeling unhappy with their life as they fail to live up to their impossible ideals of perfection and success.   


As with many mental health disorders the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is not fully known.  Neurobiology and genetics may play a part, as can early life experiences. 

Events such as childhood trauma or abuse, how a child was raised, if they had over indulgent parenting and constant praise, or generally poor parenting lacking boundaries and security.

A family history of NPD, personality and temperament as well as hypersensitivity to light, noise and textures in childhood can also contribute to its development.     

Physical Symptoms

  •     Inflated feelings of self-importance
  •     Coming across as arrogant or snobby and treating people as though they are inferior
  •     Lack of empathy for others not caring about their feelings or needs
  •     Feelings of entitlement believing they are due to the best of everything
  •     Believing they are superior to other people and only wanting to be with people they deem to be their peers
  •     Constantly thinking about power and success
  •     Taking advantage of other people for personal gain
  •     Gaslighting people, making others believe everything is their fault and they are not to blame
  •     Taking over conversations and needing to be the centre of attention
  •     Constantly needing praise and reassurance
  •     Not taking criticism well
  •     Having an exaggerated belief in their abilities or achievements
  •     Needing other people to find them attractive and successful
  •     Crave the admiration of others

Psychological Symptoms

  •     Anxiety
  •     Depression
  •     Addictions such as alcohol or drugs
  •     Suicidal thoughts

Professional Help

Doctors can prescribe antidepressants, mood stabilisers or antipsychotics to treat side effects like anxiety or depression related to NPD.  The main treatment however is long-term counselling, including therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and psychodynamic psychotherapy.  This can be challenging for people with NPD as they are often unwilling to acknowledge the condition.  However therapy will help them to not only better understand their behaviours but to change them for the better.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK).  For more free information click above link.


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