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personality disorder

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Donna Christianson, LCSW, Outpatient Therapist 

The term narcissist tends to be a catchphrase in today’s culture to describe someone who seems full of themselves; however, narcissistic personalities are much more grandiose. People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) will have an inflated self-image, lack of empathy, and a constant need for admiration that affects their relationships with others. Keep reading to learn the signs and symptoms of a narcissistic personality disorder.  

Related: ADHD: Learn All About the 3 Types  

What is a Personality Disorder?  

Before we delve into NPD, Nystrom & Associates provider, Donna Christianson, defines personality disorders:

A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviates from the expectations of a person’s culture. Often, people with personality disorders experience inflexible thoughts that impair their ability to adapt to stress, problem solve, or engage in healthy relationships with others. This pattern usually starts in late adolescents or early adulthood and leads to significant distress in major life areas.  

While there are several types of personality disorders, NPD falls under Cluster B, which affects how individuals manage their emotions and impulses.  Experts say about 6% of people have NPD, although narcissism is still being explored since many do not seek treatment. But, there are common traits of NPD that you may be able to recognize. 

Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder 

There are plenty of signs of NPD, however, we’re going to focus on a few key characteristics.

  • Lack of empathy: Narcissistic individuals’ need for self-protection brings out a lack of empathy. They are typically unwilling or unable to put themselves in another person’s shoes. In other words, since they are so focused on themselves, they don’t recognize the feelings and needs of other people. 
  • Grandiose sense of self-importance: An unrealistic sense of superiority is another key characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder. They tend to believe they are better than everyone else, and often exaggerate or lie about their talents and achievements. In addition, they think that rules don’t apply to them.
  • Manipulative behavior: Exploiting others for their own desires is a common trait for NPD. Narcissists will most likely try to impress someone in the beginning. However, eventually, they will put their own needs first and exhibit controlling/manipulative behavior in doing so.
  • Sense of entitlement: Narcissists consider themselves special and above those around them. They believe that they should receive favorable treatment and that others should cater to their wishes. If people don’t comply with their demands, they are considered useless. Likewise, be prepared for an outburst if someone does not obey their requests. 

Narcissists are very charming and confident, which tends to draw people in under false pretenses. Meanwhile, you may not notice that your own needs are being pushed aside. If you have a narcissist in your life, it’s important to learn how to set healthy boundaries and protect your mental health.

Related: Mental Health Awareness 

How Therapy Helps  

By working with a skilled therapist, those with NPD can develop emotional intelligence and improve their relationships.

Psychotherapy can help a person gain insight and knowledge into the disorder and what is contributing to their symptoms. Therapy can also teach coping skills to manage symptoms and reduce behaviors that are causing issues in functioning and relationships. Actively participating in treatment is important in any type of mental health care. 

Donna Christianson, LCSW, Outpatient Therapist. 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

Narcissists tend not to seek professional help since it does not match the self-image they have of themselves. They might need the support of a loved one to encourage them to receive treatment. Nystrom & Associates offers individual, family, and couple’s therapy that can be valuable for repairing relationships and providing support to learn new skills for narcissistic personality disorder. Left untreated, NPD can be toxic for other people, society, and the individual in the long run. To get the help you need, request an appointment or look through our qualified providers today.  

Related: Tips for Having a Successful Summer Break 

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