What is Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

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In my blog, I will define Narcissm and a personality disorder is. Then explain some of the signs and symptoms of Narcissism.

Just as a disclaimer, I’m not here to diagnose or even label you or someone else, it’s more to help you to understand so you have a clearer idea of how things are affecting you.

Content:

What is Narcissm ?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR, published in March 2022) describes narcissism as a personality disorder defined by the nine traits listed below.

Narcissism is also a spectrum disorder, which means it is on a spectrum ranging from a few narcissistic traits to full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. 

Full-blown Narcissistic personality disorder is also really rare affecting only 3% of the population.  Even so, according to Karyl  McBride in her book, “Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers”, “nonclinical narcissism is a more pervasive problem. 

In truth, we all have some of these traits, and those at the low end of the spectrum are perfectly normal. However, as you go farther along the spectrum of narcissism, you encounter more problems.” 

These problems affect both yourself and other people.

However, diagnosing NPD is challenging because firstly, other issues may exist such as a substance misuse issue, clinical depression or other mental health issues. 

Also, many people with NPD rarely go for help as part of their difficulties is believing that there is nothing wrong with them, only with other people.

It is also difficult to diagnose because the symptoms vary so much and their are different types of Narcissism: Overt, Covert, Malignant. Please read more about it here.

There is also High Functioning Naracissm which I will explain in a seperate blog. 

Read more about the main signs and symptoms of narcissism below.

What is a personality disorder?

The word ‘personality’ refers to the collection of traits and characteristics that all of us have developed as we have grown up. These traits and characteristics make us unique and make us an individual. This also includes how we think, and feel, how sensitive we are, and how we behave.

It is usually by around 20 years old when we have developed our personality and it generally can stay the same for the rest of our lives.

However, there are factors that can affect our personality such as our culture, upbringing, things that happen to us, trauma, education, and physical health lots of things affect us but for whatever reason, it can affect us to the extent that parts of your personality can make it difficult for you to live with yourself and/or with other people.

You may not be able to learn from the things that have happened to you – the things you have done. You also may find that you can’t change bits of your personality and behavior that cause you problems. These seem to be part of you and are making life difficult for you and other people as well.

There would have been signs of this developing from childhood and from teenagers. i.e. they may have found it difficult to:

  • make or keep close relationships
  • get on with people at work
  • get on with friends and family
  • keep out of trouble
  • control your feelings or behaviour
  • listen to other people

What is Narcissism - Signs and Symptoms

Taken from the National Library of Medicine, there are nine signs of narcisissm. But NPD is indicated by at least five of the following:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing the achievements)
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
  3. Believes that they are “special” and can only be understood by or should only associate with other special people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations).
  6. Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
  7. Lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes

Problems it causes:

Narcissm causes difficulties for the individual, as they don’t get their impossibly high needs met and for their victims, the people in their lives who try to meet their needs:

  1. Become angry and frustrated when they are not treated as they feel they deserve
  2. Find it difficult relating to others on an equal level
  3. Feels that others insults or humiliates them easily, even if the intention to insult was not there
  4. Can often react out of content with contempt or rage to disparage someon else just so that they can feel better about themselves or make them feel superior
  5. Find if difficult managing their emotions: especially sadness or anger
  6. Would often find it difficult going through any changes
  7. Experience low mood if they feel they or something that is affecting them falls short of being perfect
  8. Feels shame and insecurity, even though they won’t often show it
  9. Can often make others feel shame and insecurity to make themselves feel more secure
  10. Finds it difficult understanding differences of perspectives and opinions of others

What to do next

Dealing with someone with Narcissm is extremely difficult and very often we need help to recover. Remember you are not alone and if this is something you need support with, I provide a free 15 minute consultation for you to discuss your needs.

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