The person diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a need for the admiration of others, little empathy or understanding of other’s feelings, and a superior attitude (grandiosity) towards others. These clients consistently overestimate their abilities and exaggerate their accomplishments. When overestimating and exaggerating their own issues, they tend to devalue or ridicule the accomplishments of others. Clients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are oversensitive to failures and tend to be prone to extreme mood swings between self-admiration and insecurity. These clients tend to exploit interpersonal relationships.
This disorder is more commonly diagnosed in men than in women–about 50-75% of the persons diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are men. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is diagnosed in approximately 16% of the people currently in treatment for mental health issues, and that is approximately 1% of the general population. The following characteristics are used to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder if five (or more) of these are present in an individual.
- Demands constant admiration.
- Preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty or love.
- Exaggerated sense of self-importance. Wants to be recognized whether or not their accomplishments merit them.
- Takes advantage of others to meet their own needs.
- Cannot empathize with others feelings.
- Is jealous of others, or believes everyone is jealous of him or her.
- Exhibits arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
- Expects and/or demands automatic compliance with their demands. Or expects/demands favorable treatment in situations.
- Convinced that because of their superior nature or stature, that they should only associate with others who are as special and high status as they are.
Long term psychotherapy is the treatment of choice for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Insight-oriented psychotherapy is particularly effective. Insight-oriented psychotherapy is also called psychodynamic therapy. Insight-oriented psychotherapy analyzes aspects of the individual’s personality and tries to relate them to childhood conflicts. As with other personality disorders, the client-therapist relationship is crucial. Therapists try to empathize with clients about their sensitivities and disappointments which encourages the client to develop the same skills.
As with other personality disorders, there are no medications that will treat or cure Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but medications are sometimes used in conjunction with other symptoms present in this personality disorder, such as anti-depression medications for the depression that a narcissistic personality may be dealing with.
Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago. Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance. He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”