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February 29, 2012 at 11:21 AMComments: 6 Faves: 0

Narcissism a Disorder?

By Brad Plaggemars More Blogs by This Author

Everyone has a little bit of narcissism in them, some more than others.  How serious is narcissism though?  Is it serious enough to be considered a personality disorder?  An article from Medical News Today says yes.

What is NPD?

It is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).  A person with NPD "has a distorted self image, unstable and intense emotions, is overly preoccupied with vanity, prestige, power and personal adequacy, lacks empathy, and has an exaggerated sense of superiority", according to Medical News Today.  Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a disorder that is also closely associated with egocentrism, a personality trait in which a person sees only themselves, their opinions, and their interests as superior.

People who have this disorder have no interest in other people's feelings and lack empathy.  They are incapable of acknowledging any feelings that are not their own.

Although people with NPD may seem to have it altogether, this is not particularly true.  Those who have it tend to posses a delicate self-esteem and are usually over sensitive to even the smallest amount of criticism.

Common Symptoms of NPD

There are many symptoms people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder may typically experience:

  • Responding to criticism with either anger, shame, or humiliation
  • Frequently overstating their own talents, achievements, and importance
  • Often having exaggerated fantasies regarding their own good looks, power, intelligence and success
  • Consider their skills in romance to be superior
  • Generally jealous people
  • Seek and demand positive reinforcement
  • Demand attention
  • Lack of empathy
  • Most of their goals considered selfish by others
  • Have difficulty sustaining healthy relationships
  • Very sensitive and easily hurt
  • Can easily feel rejected
  • Must have the best of everything
  • Appear to be unemotional
  • Appear arrogant
  • Believe they deserve special treatment
  • To achieve goals, they will take advantage of others
  • Expect others to go along with what they want


There are not any specific causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  There are theories that suggest that a person could develop NPD from childhood instances, such as high expectations, neglect, over-pampering, and possibly abuse. 

Diagnosing NPD

In order to diagnose a person with NPD, a doctor will first check their medical history and perform a physical exam looking for signs and symptoms.  They don't have any tests specifically directed at NPD, but they may give the person an x-ray or a blood test checking for any physical illness resulting in the symptoms.  There is, however, no cure to NPD.  Psychotherapy is often recommended to treat it though.

Hopefully, researchers will come up with a more concrete treatment to effectively help those with NPD.


Photo Credit:

Amanda Azzi


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  • Great article! It'd be interesting to know if there's a genetic link to NPD , or if
    it's mostly a result of environment and social upbringing. (Classic nature vs. nurture debate)

  • I might have to look into that because that is definitely an interesting point.

  • Brad, let me throw out a situation here, tell me what you think. We currently live in a world where over a third of the population relies on social networking to facilitate a large part of their daily communications (that they care about). The setting upon which these communications take place tend to be behind a screen of some sort, adding a certain bravado to those doing the communicating. Without a face to speak to, these "people" let loose with exaggeration after exaggeration, pumping up every deed that they have done as something heroic, every misstep in their life as the most dramatic event this world has ever seen, and overall just being ignorant idiots.
    After almost a decade of this type of interaction, and a base of those using this form of communication continuing to build, there is a personality trend that starts to emerge. If you look at those types and compare them with your list of traits, there are some eery similarities.
    Now, if you are at the head of a major medical research firm and you see the social networking revolution coming to fruition, wouldn't you start to pay attention to all the personality information that is provided by this pathetic spewing of personal information? Wouldn't you take that information and spin it in a way that will benefit you? Like a medical examination for a personality trait?
    These mental "disorders" are the easiest way to get people afraid of what they may be. By listing a group of "symptoms" based on personality traits, each potential patient can identify at least one trait that they display. After rooting themselves in the seemingly logical explanation, they are hooked....on to the doctor's appointment....on to the pharmacy to medicate their life away. Rinse and repeat.

  • I had never thought that narcissism was a "disorder" until I came across this article and I understand exactly what you are saying too. I think that a person would have to be experiencing a certain number of "symptoms" in order to be diagnosed with NPD. This number of symptoms would have to be determined by the doctor they visit.

  • Great Article Brad! This actually gives people a lot to think about, and allows us to become aware of when we are portraying Narcissism.

  • Thanks!

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