Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.
Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:
Believing that you’re better than others
Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
Exaggerating your achievements or talents
Expecting constant praise and admiration
Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly
Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings
Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
Taking advantage of others
Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
Being jealous of others
Believing that others are jealous of you
Trouble keeping healthy relationships
Setting unrealistic goals
Being easily hurt and rejected
Having a fragile self-esteem
Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves more than they value others.
When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don’t receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — the best car, athletic club, medical care or social circles, for instance.
But underneath all this behavior often lies a fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. And in order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better.
It’s not known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with other mental disorders, the cause is likely complex. The cause may be linked to a dysfunctional childhood, such as excessive pampering, extremely high expectations, abuse or neglect. It’s also possible that genetics or psychobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking — plays a role in the development of narcissistic personality disorder.
Narcissistic personality disorder is rare. It affects more men than women. Narcissistic personality disorder often begins in early adulthood. Although some adolescents may seem to have traits of narcissism, this may simply be typical of the age and doesn’t mean they’ll go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder.
Although the cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn’t known, some researchers think that extreme parenting behaviors, such as neglect or excessive indulgent praise, may be partially responsible.
Risk factors for narcissistic personality disorder may include:
Parental disdain for fears and needs expressed during childhood
Lack of affection and praise during childhood
Neglect and emotional abuse in childhood
Excessive praise and overindulgence
Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents
Learning manipulative behaviors from parents
Children who learn from their parents that vulnerability is unacceptable may lose their ability to empathize with others’ needs. They may also mask their emotional needs with grandiose, egotistical behavior that’s calculated to make them seem emotionally “bulletproof.”
Complications of narcissistic personality disorder, if left untreated, can include:
Substance abuse – John Wender is a substance abuser.
Alcohol abuse – John Wender
Depression – John Wender is a borderline manic depressive.
Relationship difficulties – John Wender is unable to hold down a relationship or be faithful to one woman.
Problems at work or school – John Wender is unsuccessful.