Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental condition, more specifically a personality disorder, in which those affected have an inflated sense of self-importance. In most cases, the mental condition causes significant impairments that affect the daily life of someone who is afflicted.
According to experts, it is estimated that 0.5% (or 1 in 200 people) of the United States population are diagnosed with the disorder. It is one among the 10 known personality disorders.
Experts believe that narcissism is a spectrum and most people are on it to varying degrees. Although the word “narcissistic” gets thrown around a lot in this day and age, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious condition. It can be confused with vainness or pride but it is more than that.
Here are some of the most common Narcissistic Personality Disorder symptoms:
1. Grandiose Self-Importance
Someone with NPD will have an unrealistic sense of superiority. While normal people are able to practice self-love in a balanced way, narcissists will have a grandiose feeling of self-importance that will have them acting selfishly.
Because they believe that they are more important than others, they will often look down on others as more inferior to them. They don’t perceive other people as their equals. This kind of thinking often leads to mistreatment of others, disrespect to authorities, and other rude behaviors.
2. Excessive Need For Admiration
One of the most common symptoms of NPD is the excessive need to be admired. Admiration and adoration are fuel for a narcissist, so they constantly seek out compliments and affirmations from other people.
Without a constant stream of attention, they will feel incomplete. This is why narcissists often surround themselves with people who can fuel their egos. While they enjoy feeling superior and important, they have a deep feeling of insecurity and shame.
3. Delusions Of Grandeur
Being ambitious is a good thing but you need to have a sense of reality too. Narcissists are often disconnected from reality, which is why they have delusions of grandeur. They often have fantasies of having power, wealth or brilliance but their real life could not be farther from the truth.
Narcissists can subconsciously choose to live in their delusions to protect their self-image. When their realities are exposed, they can get extremely defensive because they are in denial.
4. Belief That They Are Special
Narcissists take self-love and confidence to the extreme. They believe that they are special and unique, therefore deserve to be treated as such.
Because of this, they may also have the need to only associate with others who are special like them. A lot of narcissists will enjoy being associated with high-status people or institutions that will help them feel that their social standings have been elevated as well. Maintaining a good image is important to a narcissist.
Someone who has NPD believes that the normal rules don’t apply to them because they are more important than others. Because of this, they develop a grand sense of entitlement, which can hurt the people around them.
This often presents as disrespect to others, even authorities, and also being insensitive to others’ needs. In a narcissist’s mind, they are the most important person, so everyone else should abide by their rules and expectations.
They can also become exploitative to get what they want. Narcissists have no problem taking advantage of others because winning is most important to them.
While they may appear like they care, it may all be an act to control you. Narcissists are master manipulators. They can easily twist the truth and tell coldhearted lies to manipulate their victim into doing what they want. Because they do this with such ease, you may not know that you are already being exploited.
7. Lack Of Empathy
Normal people have some perception of how others are feeling. Narcissists, on the other hand, have a lack of empathy for others. This is one the key defining characteristics of someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
They can easily manipulate others because they don’t understand how people feel. They rarely consider that their actions can hurt the people who love them. Because they don’t know how to empathize, it is not uncommon for narcissists to mistreat, devalue and even humiliate others. They can act cruel while remaining oblivious to how their victim feels.
8. Envious And Resentful
While someone with NPD may appear cool and confident on the outside, they can be extremely insecure and self-conscious on the inside. Their low self-esteem can cause them to become envious of others.
When a narcissist sees that someone else is in possession of traits, possessions or recognition that they want, it can be jarring for them. This can make them envious and resentful, as it reminds them of their inadequacies.
Alternatively, narcissists can also think that people are envious of them. They project feelings of envy and insecurity into others to hide their own feelings of shame. Reasoning that others are envious of them makes them feel more secure of their false superior status.
Because their egos are inflated and they always carry around a sense of entitlement, narcissists will often exhibit arrogant behavior.
They might act sweet to those who they are trying to impress but the gloves are off when they are dealing with others who they deem more inferior. It is common for narcissists to patronize, bully or insult others to assert their dominance.
When they feel threatened, they fight back by showing off their material possessions, achievements or anything else that would place them back in a position of perceived power.
What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
The exact cause of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is still unknown. Researchers have concluded that it could be a mixture of genetic components, childhood experiences and other psychological factors.
Some of the environmental factors that can increase the risk of developing NPD includes:
- excessive pampering during childhood years
- unrealistic expectations or extremely high expectations from critical parents
- suffering from childhood abuse or neglect
- learning manipulative behavior from parents
- having parents who are narcissists
- receiving excessive admiration from peers
- other cultural influences
Different Types Of Narcissists
The official diagnosis for this mental health disorder is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But, researchers have found out that there are different subtypes of NPD. As it is a complex condition, it exists on a spectrum. Different types of narcissists exhibit varying degrees of severity and may require different treatments as well.
Overt narcissism, or grandiose narcissism, is the most classic form of the disorder, and also the most obvious one out of all. This can also be called the “grandiose” form of the disorder because of the obsession with grandiosity.
An overt narcissist places high value on how people see them. Because of this, they are focused on climbing up the social ladder, gaining an excessive amount of wealth and being in a position of power.
It is common for overt narcissists to be high-achieving because they are fueled by their inflated egos to succeed. But, while they may already be successful, it will be never enough for them.
Covert narcissism is also called closet narcissism or vulnerable narcissism. Unlike grandiose types, this subtype is less obvious than the others.
They also have an inflated sense of self-importance and crave attention, however, they are not as loud and overbearing. Most covert narcissists are more introverted and withdrawn. While an overt narcissist might be more demanding and outright, someone who is a closeted narcissist resort to shaming, passive-aggressive behaviors, or emotional manipulation to get what they want.
They are extremely sensitive, especially to criticism, and always think of themselves as the victim of the situation.
This type of narcissism is focused on winning. They are extremely competitive and always want to come out on top.
Antagonistic narcissists are aggressive and ambitious. They are highly driven and are often in high seats of power. Because of their selfish drive to win, they can perceive any situation as a competition.
They also have a tendency to take advantage of others and manipulate situations to ensure that they end up being victorious.
Much like the covert narcissist, a communal narcissist also may not play the part at first glance. They appear to be charitable and generous, often coming across as a martyr, but the acts they are doing is only to feed their egos.
Communal narcissists believe that they have a profound role in society. It is common for them to be devoted to charities or causes. But, rather than helping to achieve a goal, they are more performative, placing high value on how people perceive them. Without an audience, they may not be as helpful or charitable.
How To Deal With A Narcissist
Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging and sometimes even dangerous. Because they are master manipulators, they can leave you feeling worthless and devalued. Eventually, your self-esteem will be destroyed as the narcissist continues to use and abuse you.
Knowing how to deal with a narcissist can help you navigate your situation better and protect you from their cruel behaviors.
NPD is a complex psychological disorder that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Educating yourself about the disorder can become an armor when you come across a narcissist.
Learn what you can about the disorder to help you better deal with the narcissist in your life. You might not get the answers you need from the narcissist, so it is best to find your own resources. You can also seek the help of a therapist to help you cope with narcissist abuse.
Set firm boundaries
It is common for narcissists to always want to get close to fulfill their narcissistic supply. This can deplete your energy, especially if they continuously target and manipulate you.
If you can’t distance yourself, set firm boundaries and make your limits known. List out behaviors – like name-calling, rudeness, or threats, as non-negotiables. When they cross that boundary during conversations, make sure to follow through and walk away as soon as you can.
This will teach that they need to make an effort to adjust their behavior so that they can spend time with you.
Watch out for gaslighting
Gaslighting is a common tactic of a narcissist, where the victim is manipulated into questioning their judgment or reality.
This is a form of emotional abuse that often happens when you are in a relationship with a narcissist. It usually happens when you confront a narcissist for their bad behavior. But, even if they get caught in the act, or are presented with proof of their deception, they can twist the truth and lead you to believe that you are just “making things up” or “acting crazy”.
When this happens, be aware that you are being manipulated. It is ideal to save evidence or have concrete proof of important conversations, so you wouldn’t be left doubting your reality.
Boost your own self-esteem
When you are in a relationship or living with a narcissist, your self-esteem may suffer from the dysfunctional dynamic.
It is important to boost your self-esteem and practice self-love regularly. This can be done by engaging in positive self-talk, advocating for yourself and doing activities that boost your happiness.
When your self-esteem is high, it will be difficult for a narcissist to control you. Additionally, don’t be afraid to seek support from family members and trusted friends. Surround yourself with people who can provide the positive energy that you need.
How Narcissistic Personality Disorder Is Treated
Treating Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a long process. There are several methods of treatment for NPD. The ideal approach will depend on the specific diagnosis as well as coexisting conditions.
One of the most common treatments used is Psychotherapy, or talk therapy. A therapist will explore past traumas and experiences that led to current narcissistic behaviors. Talk therapy also helps the patient understand their emotions, how to better control them and how to maintain personal relationships.
With proper medication, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, improvements can be made. There may be no cure but NPD can be managed.