Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Serious Self Interest
Many people have a tendency of putting their own needs and interests above those of their friends and family members. Our culture often dictates that it is good and reasonable to have your own best interests in mind at all times. We are told that we must look after ourselves because nobody else will. However, there are times that this preoccupation with our own self-interest goes a little too far. If you belong to this small segment of the population, you might be suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a diagnosable condition that you can receive treatment for, but identifying the key characteristics can be a little tricky. Finding a qualified counselor or psychiatrist is essential if you want to move beyond this disorder.
If you think that you might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it’s time for you to see how many of these symptoms describe you.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Most people are probably familiar with the Greek myth of Narcissus, the namesake for this disorder. The story goes that Narcissus was walking along a lake when he decided to stop for a drink of water. He saw his own beautiful reflection looking back at him and became caught up in the image of himself. Because he could never fully obtain the vision of himself, it is said that he died at the banks of this river, staring at himself.
Our modern version of Narcissistic Personality Disorder has some of the same origins as the original myth. Generally speaking, Narcissistic Personality Disorder has to do with having an inflated self-image. Your friends and family members might describe you as extremely vain, obsessed with power and a sense of your own proficiency in every area.
Egocentric is a word that quickly comes to mind when dealing with people who are diagnosed with this condition, but that does not truly describe the full extent. The United States Library of Medicine notes that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder have an inflated sense of self-importance, a preoccupation with themselves, and a lack of empathy for others.
Trained counselors and psychiatrists typically refer to the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) when attempting to make a diagnosis. This makes diagnosing patients much more uniform and more likely to produce the same results from professional to professional. Now in its fifth edition, the DSM is clear on what traits fall under this order:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupation with unlimited success, power, beauty, brilliance, or love
- A belief that you are special and can only be understood by similarly special individuals
- A need for excessive admiration
- A sense of entitlement
- Exploitation of others
- Lack of empathy for others
- Envy of others or the belief that you are the object of envy
- Arrogant or haughty behavior and attitudes
While you may find that you meet all of the criteria, trained professionals must only spot five of these criteria to make a diagnosis. These traits must be persistent and occur across all contexts such as at work, at home, and around the community. If you only display these characteristics in certain settings, it is unlikely that you would be labeled as someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Many narcissists have other traits in common as well. For example, a narcissist tends to be very sensitive to criticism. They do not believe that they could possibly be in the wrong due to their own spectacular nature, brilliance, or beauty. When faced with criticism, they may fly into a blind rage or withdraw entirely. This is often because a narcissist has a great deal of insecurity lurking just beneath the surface despite all of their bravado.
It is not uncommon to find that people diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often have extremely volatile emotions. They may swing wildly from blind rage to utter depression in a matter of hours. For the most part, they refuse to take responsibility for their actions or their failures.
Keep in mind that someone can show some traits of being narcissistic without developing the full disorder. You may have a great sense of self-esteem, but it may not impact your life in any serious kind of way. A small touch of charisma can be a charming feature, after all. Many good leaders have some of these qualities in small amounts.
Those who are diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often find that their troublesome behavior and worldview does disrupt their life. They have a difficult time managing their emotions and have rocky relationships with others. When it crosses the line into being harmful and disruptive, it is time for you to consider seeking professional treatment for your disorder.
Who is Diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
What does the average person that has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder look like? Unfortunately, researchers have not yet found a specific cause for the development of this disorder. Many people suspect that genetics may play a role in causing some of the symptoms, but the issue of upbringing cannot be overlooked.
Some scientists speculate that circumstances during childhood could be linked to higher rates of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in adults. Children who faced high expectations from their parents may grow up to have a stronger sense of their own brilliance. Similarly, a child who has been pampered since the beginning may begin to feel entitled to this form of special treatment.
Others think that neglect or abuse might spark some of these self-centered behaviors. A child that witnesses manipulation in their formative years becomes a master at it as they grow older. This is one of the most prominent traits among those who have this disorder.
It is estimated that roughly 6.2% of the population will be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Men are slightly more likely to receive this diagnosis than women at 7.7 percent compared to 4.8 percent. Black men and women, Hispanic women, and young adults were the most commonly diagnosed. Men and women who had been separated, divorced, widowed, or never married were also more likely to receive this label.
Researchers also found that there are levels of comorbidity with other conditions. Among the top conditions that were likely to be comorbid with Narcissistic Personality Disorder were:
- Substance abuse
- Mood disorders
- Other personality disorders
In particular, it was often seen that patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder had some weaker associations with bipolar I disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and borderline personality disorders.
It should be noted that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not something that is diagnosed in children. Most professionals agree that they start to look for signs and symptoms of this disorder toward early young adulthood, but they hold off on making a formal diagnosis until the adult years have been fully reached. While children may display some narcissistic tendencies, they rarely demonstrate the symptoms that would qualify them for the full diagnosis.
Famous People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder
If you think that you may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you might be searching out famous examples of others who suffered similarly. Identifying these prominent individuals gives you a sort of mirror to look through to determine if you can see yourself in any of their character traits or behaviors.
There are many people in pop culture today who would likely receive the label of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Many people look to the power couple of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian as a textbook example of narcissists. Both of them are obsessed with their own beauty, fame, and brilliance. We get to see their obsession play out on the public stage through reality television programs and award shows.
Even President Donald Trump has displayed some of these characteristics. Before his presidency, he would often speak about his own extensive success in business and engaged in quite a bit of self-promotion. He is very sensitive to the criticism of others and disregards the people whom he feels are beneath him.
It’s important to note that many celebrities and leaders worldwide and throughout history have been known to exhibit the characteristics and traits associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Unfortunately, some of those diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder may not be the type of people you would willingly associate yourself with.
Perhaps the most notorious individual who would likely have received this diagnosis is Adolf Hitler. He had an intense disregard for the feelings of others and spent years dedicating his life to creating the “perfect” race. Of course, he believed that he himself was a member of this elite class. He manipulated those around him and convinced them to fight a war where millions died due to his ideological and self-centered beliefs.
Joseph Stalin is another prominent leader who would likely have been diagnosed with this condition. He had an extreme thirst for power and frequently demonstrated just how much power he had by sentencing political opposition to harsh punishments. He felt that his way was the only correct way, and his vanity led to his development as one of the cruelest leaders in Russian history.
It’s important to think about how what made these leaders dangerous and awful wasn’t their Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but how they used their power to harm others.
You are more than your disorder and more than anything, by displaying an interest in managing your disorder, you are already ahead of the curve and on the road to managing it more effectively.
Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Many areas of psychiatric concern can be addressed through the use of modern medication. Unfortunately, there is no medication that can help to treat Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You may want to try medications to help with concurrent conditions like anxiety or mood disorders. However, treatment for narcissists involves talk therapy alone.
Finding a qualified counselor is an absolute necessity if you want to learn to maintain healthy and balanced relationships. Someone who has experience working with different personality disorders would be an ideal choice. Together, you should work on setting goals that help you to achieve a better balance in your daily life.
There are many different areas that you may want to tackle during your talk therapy sessions. For many people, it is helpful to first recognize and accept their own limitations. Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder tend to inflate their own abilities because they believe that they are superior and special. In turn, this makes them extremely sensitive to the criticism of others. Understanding your real abilities can help you to interact better with others when criticism does eventually come your way.
You might also need to work on developing a sense of empathy toward others. Learn how to look at situations from more than one perspective. This simple skill can deepen your relationship with friends, family members, and coworkers.
Last but not least, you need to consider the goals that you set for yourself. Those diagnosed with this disorder tend to set extremely lofty goals that are not always achievable. This sets them up for long-term disappointment when they inevitably fall short. Goal setting is an important skill for everyone to learn, but it can be particularly useful for those diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
While you are working on all of these important skills, you may naturally find that you are better able to balance your emotions. You might be less inclined to fly into a rage or to withdraw from life completely. Many people experience a much more even mood when they have realistic expectations and healthier relationships.
Hope for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Whether you feel like you have been suffering from this condition for years or are just discovering it, it is easy to feel hopeless and overwhelmed after a new diagnosis. Remember that it is impossible for you to self-diagnose something as serious as a personality disorder. This short guide should simply give you a few pointers for when you may want to begin to seek professional help and counseling.
Despite the fact that Narcissistic Personality Disorder can disrupt your life, your emotions, and your relationships, there is hope for healing. A competent therapist can make a major difference in how you approach your life and future. By making a few minor adjustments to your mindset, you can see significant changes in your day to day life.
Keep in mind that these changes will not happen overnight. They require lots of diligent hard work, but they will eventually pay off. Don’t delay getting help for your Narcissistic Personality Disorder another day. Contact a local therapist in your area to get started.
If you’re in or near Southern California, The Meadowglade might be what you need! Reach out to us in order to find out how our facility can be a help in your healing process! Having Narcissistic Personality Disorder isn’t a death knell! Searching for help is the first step towards managing your disorder! The Meadowglade can help!