Everything You Need to Know About Narcissistic Personality Disorder

We often are annoyed when we find someone wanting all the attention, regardless of the causes and consequences, being extremely sensitive to anyone’s remarks. To handle them cautiously is advised, as those might be signs of a narcissistic personality disorder. 

What is Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality disorder? 

  • Narcissism, often described as increased importance given to own physical self, has been developed from the Greek example of Narcissus to a cultural conception in the United States labeled as a mental disorder by the late 20th century (Jauk et.al, 2021). 
  • We might also notice people wanting to stand out because of low confidence, feelings of loneliness, being vulnerable to remarks, which are features profound in Eastern Countries (Jauk et. al, 2021) 
  • The narcissist meaning and definition goes beyond culture, into certain common traits, divided into different criteria by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:
    1. The idea of being unique
    2. Attention seeking
    3. Wanting special treatment
    4. Lacking the will to understand others
    5. Feeling shamefulness and humiliation
    6. Hating criticism
  • These broad signs of a narcissist: portraying the need for creating a false sense of an impressive personality and the lack of relating to others, cause an alarm of concern, as they also stem from internal factors of low self-worth, lonely and sensitive feelings (Ronningstam, 2010)

Sub – divisions of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The diverse nature of humans cannot be reduced to certain common traits. Caligor et. al (2015) analyze specific case studies to understand the sub-variations and severities that characterize narcissistic behavior: 

  • The grandiose overt narcissists: those seen as attention seekers and arrogant over their ability to charm others, coming off as dominative, with a lack of concern for others. 
  • The vulnerable covert narcissists: those who might respond negatively to criticism, often being disturbed over it, but might also compare themselves to others due to feeling inadequate or jealous. 
  • The high functioning and autonomous narcissists: They share traits with the grandiose overt types, but they also use them for their development, so being competitive and sexually advanced also fall under their category. As they come across like any other human, their cases are rare to come out. 
  • The malignant narcissists: the extreme kind, as their standoffish nature might turn to sadistic tendencies that they derive satisfaction from. The need to treat them and the difficulty faced thus increases. 

(To know more about the subtypes and their association with other disorders, visit https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14060723

Narcissists and Relationships

It is important to note that individuals carrying narcissistic personalities also communicate and form relationships, subject to the same socialization process. Vaknin (2004) explains the influences, varying from birth to them being adults, as markers of the narcissistic relationship: 

  • Those with narcissistic parents are often bound to share the same tendencies due to control seen in a positive light or opposite traits due to control seen in a negative light. This can also manifest as wanting to be with a narcissist, influenced by their upbringing. 
  • The narcissist, prone to known influences being the right way, may often mistake their abuse for love and understand criticism as hate.

So, what might seem like a narcissistic abuse relationship, is their inability to form a meaningful connection. The need to control turns into an unstable relationship.   

Treating Narcissistic Traits

The recent statistics of population segments that identify with narcissistic traits are patients seeking mental help, military servers, and medical students. Under therapy, it’s not unusual to find other conditions like depression, substance use, bipolar, and eating disorders (Hull,2021). 

Yakeley (2018) explains the problem faced during therapies involving narcissists:

  • The narcissists seek therapy due to the fault or difficulties they find in others that bother them, willing to less reflect on themselves. The therapist’s advice might strike the wrong side, leading back to square one of them being receptive to criticism.  
  • The willingness to have the upper hand for the narcissist might also affect the therapist who would have to deal with the pointed error of their ways or criticism to get to the healing process.

So, how do we treat those suffering from this disorder? Weinberg and Ronningstam (2020) analyze various patterns of therapies and suggest ways that can work better: 

  •  If the patient ever faces difficulties starting or even continuing the treatment, finding the causes behind them to create a healthy response to further development might help. Here, lining out an agreement or providing ultimatums that keep a constant check on their progress works.
  • To handle a patient’s criticism effectively that a therapist might face initially.
  • To provide clear-cut goals and achievable alternatives so that the therapist and the patient can work together.
  • To motivate the patients to work on themselves so they recognize the positive outcome of it. 
  • Once patients are aware of broadening their perception, the process of recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, can be initiated in an open-minded way. 

Conclusion

So, to be aware and not promote the tendencies that make a narcissist more confident should be discouraged, pointing out the abuse and seeking help should be recognized and applied practically and constructively. Along with therapies, daily communication also goes a long way.[1]

This article highlights the markers of someone having NPD, the cultural and psychological factors, the diagnosis and treatment for a varied population that falls under this category. To recognize and know the disorder, researching and learning about it, is the first step. Change starts when reflecting and acting becomes a norm with abnormality and harm. 


References

Caligor, E., Levy, K. N., & Yeomans, F. E. (2015). Narcissistic personality disorder: Diagnostic and clinical challenges. American Journal of Psychiatry172(5), 415-422.

Hull, Megan (2021). Narcissistic Personality Disorder Statistics. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/npd-statistics/

Jauk, E., Breyer, D., Kanske, P., & Wakabayashi, A. (2021). Narcissism in independent and interdependent cultures. Personality and Individual Differences177, 110716.

Ronningstam, E. (2010). Narcissistic personality disorder: A current review. Current psychiatry reports12(1), 68-75.

Vaknin, S. (2010). Excerpts and Case Studies from the Archives of the Narcissistic Abuse Study Group. Narcissus Publishing.

Weinberg, I., & Ronningstam, E. (2020). Dos and don’ts in treatments of patients with narcissistic personality disorder. Journal of personality disorders34(Supplement), 122-142.

Yakeley, J. (2018). Current understanding of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. BJPsych advances24(5), 305-315.