Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an excessive sense of self-importance, an extreme preoccupation with themselves, and lack of empathy for others.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Cause of this disorder is unknown. Early life experiences, such as particularly insensitive parenting, are thought to play a role in the development of this disorder.
A person with narcissistic personality disorder may:
React to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
Have excessive feelings of self-importance
Exaggerate achievements and talents
Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
Need constant attention and admiration
Disregard the feelings of others, and have little ability to feel empathy
Have obsessive self-interest
Pursue mainly selfish goals
Signs and tests
Narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation that assesses the history and severity of the symptoms.
Talk therapy may help the affected person relate to other people in a more positive and compassionate way.
Outcome of treatment depends on the severity of the disorder.
Alcohol or other drug dependence
Relationship, work, and family problems
Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadellphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 39.
David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.