What are the Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

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Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental condition characterized by grandiosity and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. While a person with this condition may seem very conceited or in love with themself, this behavior is really a front for deep feelings of insecurity. A person with NPD isn’t really in love with themself as they are, but are captivated by an idealized version of themself.

Like other personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder, NPD can lead to problems in many aspects of life. A person with this disorder always expects to be admired and to receive favorable treatment. When others don’t give the amount of admiration they expect, they may end up feeling disappointed or disillusioned.

Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The number of symptoms and the intensity of these symptoms can vary from one person with NPD to another. Some of the most recognizable symptoms of narcissism include:

  • Unrealistic sense of superiority
  • Preoccupation with fantasies of power and success
  • Intense preoccupation with self
  • Need for constant admiration and praise
  • Expecting to always be the center of attention
  • Expecting to be thought of as superior whether or not anything has been done to earn this opinion
  • Expecting others to go along with whatever they want
  • Expecting others to be fascinated with them and their experiences, leading to monopolizing conversations
  • Boasting and exaggeration of accomplishments
  • Sense of entitlement and expecting they’ll always get special treatment
  • Extreme feelings of jealousy
  • Difficulty tolerating criticism

Even though a person with NPD usually projects an image of arrogance or haughtiness, they usually struggle with low self-esteem. Personality disorders are characterized by unhealthy and rigid patterns of thought and behavior leading to significant problems in relationships with others. People with personality disorders including NPD  don’t think there’s anything wrong with them because their patterns of thinking and behavior seem natural to them.

How a Person with NPD Treats Others

With a deep-seated belief in their own superiority, a person with NPD unsurprisingly has difficulty recognizing or relating to the thoughts or feelings of others. They have a hard time putting themself in someone else’s shoes. They don’t think twice about taking advantage of other people, and simply don’t give any thought to how their behavior may affect others. If other people try to communicate feeling hurt, a narcissist isn’t likely to feel ashamed or guilty.

Narcissists may feel threatened if others are critical or more successful than they are. They may bully others or put them down in an effort to remain in a position of superiority. They may also manipulate others for their own best interests and may use magnetism and charm to accomplish this. They appear to be much more confident and successful than they are, which frequently is a successful tactic for drawing other people in. In relationships, they may try to make others feel like they’re to blame for anything that goes wrong.

Ongoing Problems and Complications of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Untreated NPD can lead to erratic symptoms and behaviors such as impulsivity, violence or suicidal tendencies. Difficulties with work or with interpersonal relationships may lead to other mental health disorders like substance abuse, depression, or anxiety disorders.

An individual with NPD is likely to believe there’s nothing wrong with them, and for that reason, they aren’t likely to seek treatment unless the condition begins to interfere with their life in some way. Treatment of this condition usually involves long-term psychotherapy. Medication may be prescribed for co-occurring conditions such as anxiety or depression.

In therapy, a person with NPD can learn to relate to others in healthier ways, to get better at tolerating failure or criticisms, and at accepting responsibility for their actions. Including family members or other loved ones in therapy may be beneficial and can also provide support and education to loved ones.

If you or a loved one are struggling with a personality disorder or other mental health concern, we’re here for you. Our clinicians have experience with and expertise in treating personality disorders at our Women’s Treatment Center, our Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center, and our outpatient treatment centers. Call us today at 844.973.2072 or fill out our contact form


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