What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Perhaps you would have come across some people that think that they’re better and superior to anyone else around them, and such people can’t bear the slightest criticism. Today, we’ll discuss what is narcissistic personality disorder; its types, symptoms, causes, complications, diagnosis, treatment, and coping mechanism. 

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? 

A narcissistic personality disorder is such a mental disorder and condition where a person perceives one’s image of great importance, requires undivided attention and appreciation, has troubled relationships, and has no sympathy and compassion for others. They have volatile self-esteem that is easily susceptible to small criticism. 

NPD badly impacts a person in various areas of life like financial matters, school, work, and relationships. People with such conditions they’re usually not happy because they don’t often receive the special favors and treatment that they think they deserve. Normal order people won’t like to be around such people, and their relationships don’t bring them happiness. 


A report by NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) showed that roundabout 9.1% of Americans experience any form of personality disorder annually. The previous reports stated that 6.2% of US adults exhibit the symptoms of NPD. Recent statistical studies have shown that the symptoms of NPD have declined significantly comprising of 0.5 to 5%. NPD is more common in males than females. 

Comparatively with the other types of personality disorders like histrionic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder; NPD is not much common. 

Types of NPD

Many research psychologists have subdivided the NPD into two main types, and they are as follows; 

Vulnerable, Covert Narcissism 

It’s such a type that describes defensiveness and hypersensitivity. People with such NPD conditions want and require the approval of others. However, if they don’t receive it, they would withdraw themselves from society, and their self-esteem is very low. 

Grandiose, Overt Narcissism 

It’s such type that describes grandiose personality traits, arrogance, and boldness. People with this type of NPD condition have exhibitionist behavior, exploiting others, aggressive behavior, and no empathy. 

Hypervigilent Narcissism 

People with this type of condition they’re easily hurtful, have high sensitivity, and experience shame. 

High Functioning Narcissism 

It’s such type of disorder that comprises self-centeredness, a sense of entitlement, no empathy, and presenting oneself normal. 

Symptoms of NPD

Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder vary from person to person. Some of them are as follows; 

  • Persistent on being the best in everything like the best house, care, office, job, etc
  • Arrogant behavior like pretentious, boastful, and conceited manner 
  • Envious of others and believing that others are jealous of you 
  • Reluctant to acknowledge the needs and feelings of others 
  • Exploiting others to get what you want 
  • Anticipate special favors from others without any claim 
  • Belittling others, monopolizing the conversation, and considering others as lower than you 
  • Considering yourself superior to other people 
  • Living in the dream fantasy of perfect partner, beauty, brilliance, power, and success
  • Exaggerating about your talent and personal achievements
  • Anticipating that others would acknowledge you as superior without any achievement 
  • The constant need for admiration and appreciation by having a sense of entitlement 
  • The exaggerated belief of self-importance 

For people with NPD condition it’s difficult for them to deal with criticism because of the following reasons; 

  • Secrete feelings of humiliation, vulnerability, insecurity, and shame 
  • They aren’t perfect and it makes them feel depressed 
  • Difficult feelings to adapt to change and manage stress 
  • Experiencing difficulty in managing their behavior and emotions 
  • Contempt, rage, and belittling others to make themselves superior 
  • Problems with building interpersonal relations 
  • Angry and impatient when others don’t offer you special favors 

Causes of NPD 

Psychologists don’t know the exact and precise causes of NPD. Researchers have found some factors that play a significant role in developing this condition. However, your childhood experiences add up to develop NPD like; 

  • Inconsistent and unreliable parents 
  • Over-involvement of parents into your life
  • Not authentic and validating environment 
  • Excessive appreciation and admiration 
  • Trauma and abuse 

Human biology and genetics also play an important role in developing NPD. Having said that earlier that finding the precise cause is difficult to know and they vary. 


Some other conditions that can occur along with narcissistic personality disorder, and are as follows; 

  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Misuse of alcohol and drugs
  • Problems with physical health 
  • Anxiety and depression 
  • Facing problems at work or school 
  • Difficulties in developing relationships 

Diagnosis of NPD

A licensed professional psychologist could make the official diagnosis by analyzing the personality impairments in performing various functions of life. It comprises of checking lack of intimacy, empathy, difficulty in developing relationships, seeking attention, and grandiose sense of self-importance. 

The expression of personality traits and impairment in personality functions should be stable over time while performing various functions in different situations. They shouldn’t be under the influence of medical condition or substance use; and not be typical for stage development, environment, and culture. 

Treatment of NPD 

People with NPD rarely ask for help or seek out treatment. They do so with the insistence of the family members or due to the symptoms of other disorders like depression. However, therapeutic treatment for people with NPD is difficult because they don’t consider it a disorder or condition. Insurance companies only pay for the short-term treatment that lowers the symptoms to some extent, the underlying problem remains there. 

Some therapeutic treatments help people to develop a sense of self, better insight in understanding their behavior and managing it. They’re as follows; 

Psychotropic Medication

It’s not effective when talking about dealing with change in behavior in the long term, but it helps in managing other symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

CBT is an effective therapeutic treatment for changing the destructive behavior and thought patterns of any person. It objective of this treatment is to change the distorted image of thoughts and develop a realistic self-image. 

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy 

It also affects therapeutic treatment for people dealing with NPD, the treatment process is difficult to carry out and takes a lot of time. 

Coping with Narcissists 

People with narcissist personality disorder have an exploitive nature and they want love, money, and attention from others without caring about them. if you know someone that exhibit the symptoms of NPD, then you should take the following steps to deal with their behavior; 

Identify Narcissistic Behavior 

Narcissistic people tend to manipulate the emotions and feelings of others and they take abusive actions. The first step towards dealing with it is to acknowledge their behavior. 

Setting Boundaries 

You shouldn’t allow them to have an extreme behavior, abusive, and angry attitude towards you. By setting boundaries means that you should have the courage to finish the relationship when they cross it repetitively. 

Talk to Others 

It’s difficult to identify such behavior when things go back to normal over and over again and you forget about their behavior. Therefore, you should discuss it with your friends, family, or therapist about their behavior, and they would help you to process things out that you’re dealing with a narcissist. 

Conclusion: What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is narcissistic personality disorder; its symptoms, causes, treatment, and coping techniques; we’ve realized that NPD is a serious condition for some people. If you know any acquaintances dealing with it; help them to recognize it and get the therapeutic treatment.