Home Diseases & Conditions Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a type of personality disorder described in people with a sense of superiority, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. They do not care about the needs of others, act selfishly and feel disappointed or depressed when their needs are not met.

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) have low self-esteem and insecurity despite their show of superiority and grandiosity. NPD is a chronic disorder occurring from the late adolescent period and progressing to adulthood.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder


NPD has a prevalence of 6% of the total population with males being more affected than females.


The exact cause of NPD is unknown however it has been linked to genetic, environmental, and social risk factors. These factors include:

  • overpraising or overpampering
  • excessively high expectations
  • unpredictable care or neglect
  • trauma
  • abuse
  • rejection


Symptoms of NPD include:

  • high self-esteem and belief of superiority compared to others.
  • need for excessive praise and admiration
  • poor reaction to criticism and disapproval
  • downplaying others and exaggerating their own talents and accomplishments.
  • attention-seeking and power-hungry behavior
  • having fragile self-esteem and feeling disappointed when admiration is not forthcoming
  • exaggerating intimacy with others, especially those with wealth or VIP status
  • believing in their uniqueness, and that only special people can understand it
  • having a sense of entitlement to favorable treatment
  • taking advantage of others to achieve their own goals
  • being unable or unwilling to identify with the feelings or needs of others
  • feeling jealous and believing that others are jealous of them
  • behaving in a way that seems arrogant or haughty to others
  • showing great charm but quickly becoming irritated or angry
  • talking at length about their own concerns but lacking interest in the concerns of others
  • a sense of shame, humiliation, and emptiness when disappointed
  • difficulty maintaining relationships


The criteria for diagnosing Narcissistic Personality Disorder as stated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) include:

  • The pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.
  • Five or more of the following must be present:
  1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance.
  2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited money, success, brilliance, etc.
  3. Believes that he or she is “special” or unique and can associate only with other high-status individuals.
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement.
  6. Takes advantage of others for self-gain.
  7. Lacks empathy.
  8. Envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her.


Psychotherapy is the main treatment recommended for a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Psychotherapy helps individuals understand the reason for their behavior and helps them learn to take responsibility for their actions. It also helps them learn how to build long-lasting relationships, manage their emotions appropriately, and increase their self-esteem.

Medications can also be for treatment when the disorder is also associated with depression and anxiety.

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