It is sometimes good to think highly of yourself. A little self-love and a healthy self-image would go a long way in boosting your confidence, be assertive in your opinions, and makes you a little more resilient and better able to handle setbacks.
However, as with all things, too much of anything is not so good.
Take, for instance, the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology, who was described as the most beautiful man around, and beloved by both gods and men. Unfortunately, all he did was to show disdain and contempt for everyone around him.
And for this reason, he was cursed to fall with his reflection in a pool where he committed suicide after realizing that his love for himself could not be materialized. It is for this reason that Narcissistic Personality Disorder was named after him.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder that is characterized by an inflated opinion of self, a lack of empathy towards others, and the intense need for admiration.
People with narcissistic personality disorder usually spend a lot of time thinking about achieving success and power, or about their appearance. They may be unhappy and full of disappointment when not given special favors or praise they feel they deserve.
They can sometimes be perceived as being snobbish and vain, and people may generally avoid being around them.
They also often take advantage of the people around them, manipulating friends, and loved ones. These behaviors usually begin to show by early adulthood and could cause problems in many areas of life, including work, school, and relationships.
There is no known cause of narcissistic personality disorder. However, it has been attributed to be due to childhood abuse or neglect, cultural influence, unrealistic expectations from parents, over-pampering, and sexual promiscuity.
The American Psychiatric Association has included under the cluster B personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The diagnosis of the condition is made by a healthcare professional via interviews.
Treatment of narcissistic personality disorder is typically by psychotherapy. This can, however, prove difficult because people with the condition do not consider themselves to have a mental health problem.
A relatively small number of people are believed to be affected by NPD at some point in their lives. Narcissistic personality disorder occurs more frequently in men than in women and typically affects younger people.
The condition was first described by the Austrian psychoanalyst, Robert Waelder, in 1925, and Heinz Kohut later coined the term “narcissistic personality disorder” in 1968.
Narcissistic personality disorder often occurs along with other mental disorders. People living with NPD are prone to episodes of depression. They may also be associated with substance abuse disorders, bipolar disorder, and anorexia.
Other associated mental health issues include borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.
How to Spot Person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissists tend to be selfish, arrogant, and demanding. They often feel that they are superior to other people or more unique compared to them.
They believe that other special people can only understand them. They would sometimes lie or exaggerate talents and achievements. They, however, need excessive praise and validation from others, often reacting badly to perceived criticism.
People with narcissistic personality disorder live in a make-believe world that supports their delusions of grandeur.
They create extensive worlds with distortion, magical thinking, and self-deception, spinning fantasies of unlimited brilliance, power, and success. They use this as a coping mechanism to protect themselves from feelings of shame and emptiness.
They detest being contradicted with reality and rationalize facts to suit their narrative. Anything that opposes their world view is met with extreme defensiveness, and sometimes, aggression.
Narcissists have an intense need to be the center of attention; they need constant praise and admiration to feed their ego and sense of superiority. They surround themselves with people who are willing to cater to their constant need for attention.
These relationships, however, are usually one-sided. It is always about what the admirer can do for the narcissist and not the other way around. An interruption in the admirer’s attention or praise is seen as a betrayal.
Furthermore, narcissists are entitled and expect favorable treatment as their due. They expect everyone to comply with their whims and demands because they genuinely believe that whatever it is they want, they should get it.
They treat people based on how much value they have to them, and defying their will can sometimes be met with rage. Narcissists lack empathy and exploit others without guilt or shame.
Due to their selfish nature, they never identify with the feelings and emotions of others. They instead see people as tools that can be used to serve their needs and further their agenda. They very good at manipulation, and they truly believe what they do is right even when pointed out to them.
People with narcissistic personality disorder are, more often than not, bullies. They feel threatened when they encounter someone with something they lack, or by people who challenge them and do not bow to there demands.
They would treat them with contempt or in a dismissive or condescending manner as if to show the other person that their actions do not affect them in any way. They can sometimes resort to petty insults, name-calling, and bullying.
Narcissists might even engage in impulsive behaviors such as risky sex, drugs, and gambling. Some of these traits may appear to be similar to confidence; however, narcissistic personality disorder and healthy confidence are not the same.
Treating Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is the primary treatment for NPD. Other medications may be used if the condition occurs with other mental health issues like anxiety or depression. There are, however, no treatment for NPD.
Psychotherapy can be difficult because the narcissist truly believes that they do not have a problem. But with progress, it can help them learn how to relate with other people better.
Talk therapy can also help to maintain wholesome relationships, and improve cooperation with peers and coworkers. Other benefits include coping with self-esteem issues and recognizing strengths and potential to build tolerance against criticisms and failures.
The treatment for narcissistic personality disorder may take a while before the result is noticeable. The patient may see the exercise as a waste of time and may be tempted to quit. But sticking with the treatment plan is vital to developing healthy relationships with other people.
Lifestyle changes that would help with therapy include:
- Exercising at least thrice a week to help boost mood.
- Avoiding alcohol, drugs, and other substances that trigger negative behaviors.
- Engaging in relaxation techniques, like meditation and yoga, to reduce stress and anxiety.