Narcissistic Personality Disorder Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Home Remedies

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Home Remedies


What is narcissistic personality disorder?


Narcissism is a term used to describe a focus on the self and self-admiration that is taken to an extreme. The word “narcissism” comes from a Greek myth in which a handsome young man named Narcissus sees his reflection in a pool of water and falls in love with it.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of a group of conditions called dramatic personality disorders. People with these disorders have intense, unstable emotions, and a distorted self-image. Narcissistic personality disorder is further characterized by an abnormal love of self, an exaggerated sense of superiority and importance, and a preoccupation with success and power. However, these attitudes and behaviors do not reflect true self-confidence. Instead, the attitudes conceal a deep sense of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem. People with this personality disorder also tend to set unrealistic goals.

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy.

What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?


The exact cause of narcissistic personality disorder is not known. However, many mental health professionals believe it results from a combination of factors that may include biological vulnerabilities, social interactions with early caregivers, and psychological factors that involve temperament and the ability to manage stresses. Some researchers believe that narcissistic personality disorder may be more likely to develop when children experience parenting styles that are excessively pampering, or when parents have a need for their children to be talented or special in order to maintain their own self-esteem. On the other end of the spectrum, narcissistic personality disorder might develop as the result of neglect or abuse and trauma inflicted by parents or other authority figures during childhood. The disorder usually is evident by adolescence or early adulthood when personality traits have become consolidated. Some experts say there may also be a genetic link, as well as the way the brain behaves, thinks and reacts to environmental stimuli.

What are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder?


In many cases, people with narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Are self-centered and boastful
  • Seek constant attention and admiration
  • Consider themselves better than others
  • Exaggerate their talents and achievements
  • Believe that they are entitled to special treatment
  • Are easily hurt but might not show it
  • Might take advantage of others to achieve their goals
Other common traits of narcissistic personality disorder include the following:

  • Preoccupation with fantasies that focus on unlimited success, power, intelligence, beauty, or love
  • Belief that he or she is “special” and unique, and can only be understood by other special people
  • Expectation that others will automatically go along with what he or she wants
  • Inability to recognize or identify with the feelings, needs, and viewpoints of others
  • Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
  • Hypersensitivity to insults (real or imagined), criticism, or defeat, possibly reacting with rage, shame, and humiliation
  • Arrogant behavior and/or attitude

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.

When to see a doctor


When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may not want to think that anything could be wrong — doing so wouldn't fit with your self-image of power and perfection. But by definition, a narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of your life, such as relationships, work, school or your financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and confused by a mix of seemingly contradictory emotions. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.

If you notice any of these problems in your life, consider reaching out to a trusted doctor or mental health provider. Getting the right treatment can help make your life more rewarding and enjoyable.

How is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?


Personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder are typically diagnosed by a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or  psychiatrist. Family physicians and general practitioners are generally not trained or well-equipped to make this type of psychological diagnosis. So while you can initially consult a family physician about this problem, they should refer you to a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. There are no laboratory, blood or genetic tests that are used to diagnose personality disorder.

Many people with narcissistic personality disorder don’t seek out treatment. People with personality disorders, in general, do not often seek out treatment until the disorder starts to significantly interfere or otherwise impact a person’s life. This most often happens when a person’s coping resources are stretched too thin to deal with stress or other life events.

A diagnosis for narcissistic  personality disorder is made by a mental health professional comparing your symptoms and life history with those listed here. They will make a determination whether your symptoms meet the criteria necessary for a personality disorder diagnosis.

How Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treated?


Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy. There are no medications specifically used to treat narcissistic personality disorder. However, if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other conditions, medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be helpful.

Types of therapy that may be helpful for narcissistic personality disorder include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. In general, cognitive behavioral therapy helps you identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones.
  • Family therapy. Family therapy typically brings the whole family together in therapy sessions. You and your family explore conflicts, communication and problem solving to help cope with relationship problems.
  • Group therapy. Group therapy, in which you meet with a group of people with similar conditions, may be helpful by teaching you to relate better with others. This may be a good way to learn about truly listening to others, learning about their feelings and offering support.
Because personality traits can be difficult to change, therapy may take several years. The short-term goal of psychotherapy for narcissistic personality disorder is to address such issues as substance abuse, depression, low self-esteem or shame. The long-term goal is to reshape your personality, at least to some degree, so that you can change patterns of thinking that distort your self-image and create a realistic self-image.

Psychotherapy can also help you learn to relate better with others so that your relationships are more intimate, enjoyable and rewarding. It can help you understand the causes of your emotions and what drives you to compete, to distrust others, and perhaps to despise yourself and others.

What are the complications of narcissistic personality disorder?


People with narcissistic personality disorder might abuse drugs and/or alcohol as a way of coping with their symptoms. The disorder also might interfere with the development of healthy relationships with others.

Can Narcissistic Personality Disorder Be Prevented?


Because the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown, there's no known way to prevent the condition with any certainty. Getting treatment as soon as possible for childhood mental health problems may help. Family therapy may help families learn healthy ways to communicate or to cope with conflicts or emotional distress. Parents with personality disorders may benefit from parenting classes and guidance from therapists or social workers.

Home Remedies for Narcissistic Personality Disorder


The nature of narcissistic personality disorder can also leave you feeling that the therapy or the therapist is not worth your time and attention, and you may be tempted to quit. Try to keep an open mind, though, and to focus on the rewards of treatment.

Stick to your treatment plan


Attend scheduled therapy sessions and take any medications as directed. Remember that it can be hard work and that you may have occasional setbacks.

Learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder


Educate yourself about narcissistic personality disorder so that you can better understand symptoms, risk factors and treatments.

Get treatment for substance abuse or other mental health problems


Your addictions, depression, anxiety and stress can feed off each other, leading to a cycle of emotional pain and unhealthy behavior.

Learn relaxation and stress management


Try such stress-reduction techniques as meditation, yoga or tai chi. These can be soothing and calming.

Stay focused on your goal


Recovery from narcissistic personality disorder can take time. Keep motivated by keeping your recovery goals in mind and reminding yourself that you can work to repair damaged relationships and become happier with your life.

Living with somebody who has narcissistic personality disorder


Family members of somebody with narcissistic personality disorder describe the sufferer as controlling, egotistical and forever dissatisfied with what anybody around them does. No matter what happens, the narcissist will blame others and make them feel guilty for all their problems. They are described as having short fuses, losing their tempers at the slightest provocation, or turning their backs and giving people the "silent treatment". Some can be physically and sexually abusive.

Being with a narcissistic person "can be a living nightmare", many have said. The spouse, coworker, boss, and even parent may sometimes be sucked into a relationship they find very hard to escape from. The emotional and physical damage caused by somebody with narcissistic personality disorder can be severe. Even the health care professional might become emotionally exhausted too.

The narcissist tends not to go for strong individuals. Learning how to become more confident and assertive can help protect those living with somebody with narcissistic personality disorder from long-term harm.

What Is the Outlook for People With Narcissistic Personality Disorder?


The prognosis depends on the severity of the disorder and the degree to which people who seek treatment recognize problems within themselves and desire to change aspects of their personality that may be maladaptive.