What is narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissistic Personality

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a type of personality disorder, in which people tend to believe and act as though they are superior to others. They have a grossly inflated view of themselves and often display grandiose behaviour. NPD affects more men than women: 50%–75% of people diagnosed worldwide are men. There are a range of traits and symptoms to help identify NPD.

Identifying the traits

People who have NPD will often be described as self-centred, arrogant and overly demanding. They have a high level of confidence and high self-esteem. This means they believe they are better than others and are ‘special’. Individuals with NPD have a strong need for constant praise and recognition, and react poorly to criticism or losing. Narcissists will happily exaggerate their own achievements and skills, whilst ignoring the talents of those around them. They are obsessed with beauty, power and success above all else. Some narcissists may even engage in high-risk behaviours such as gambling or unsafe sex.

Common symptoms 

NPD will usually appear during early adulthood and these individuals may not even realise they have a problem. This is likely because it goes against the high self-image they have of themselves and their reality. NDP may look like:

  • Being viewed by others as pretentious, which causes people to avoid you

  • Having a vulnerable self-esteem

  • A strong sense of entitlement

  • A tendency to take advantage of other people

  • Arrogant and condescending behaviour

  • Unfulfilling relationships in all aspects of life

  • Lack of empathy

  • Acting immature and childish when things don’t go your way

Treatment for NPD

NDP is one of the most difficult of the personality disorders to treat due to its nature. As the individual lacks empathy and is reluctant to see their behaviour as problematic, they don’t see how they negatively affect others. If you do have NPD and are ready to get help, then the main treatment for NPD is psychotherapy (talk therapy). This is where you can work with a therapist to learn how to relate better to others. Over time, this therapy will help you develop more positive and healthy relationships. The hope is that eventually you will change your current behaviours and improve many aspects of your life.

If symptoms of NPD occur alongside a mental health condition such as depression, then specific medications can be used to treat this. There are no current medications to help treat NPD. Despite this you can reach out to a therapist who specialises in narcissistic traits.

Lifestyle changes

Focusing on positive lifestyle choices and eliminating negative ones, is important when undergoing therapy for NDP. Remaining active, and aiming to exercise 3-5 days a week will help to boost your mood. Negative behaviours can be triggered by substances such as alcohol and drugs. Not consuming these will help you stay focused. Using relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.

NPD can be difficult to treat, as the traits can be hard to change. It can take several years of intensive work and therapy to see an improvement in behaviour. If you suffer from NDP it is important to reach out to a qualified therapist who can help you focus on your recovery goals. With time, you can repair damaged relationships and improve many aspects of your life.

If you are looking for help, take a look at these therapists who specialise in helping people with narcissistic personality traits.

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