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How to Spot Narcissistic Personality Disorder

UnknownNarcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is when a person is excessively preoccupied with power, vanity, prestige, and are unable to see the damage they may be causing themselves or others. People with NPD have an exaggerated feeling of self importance, sense of entitlement, and lack empathy.  Those who have NPD believe they are superior and have little regard for other peoples’ feelings. It is rare and to affects more men than women. It often begins in early adulthood. So how can you identify NPD? Below, you will find symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What are the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

  • Fantasizing about power
  • Believing you are special
  • Being easily hurt
  • Fantasizing about success
  • Believing others are jealous of you
  • Being jealous of others
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • Failing to recognize other people’s emotions
  • Fragile self-esteem

Some features of NPD may  seem like you have a strong self-esteem or confidence, but it is not the same. People with NPD put themselves on a pedestal and think highly of themselves. In contrast, people with self esteem do not value themselves more than they value others. When you have NPD, you monopolize conversations and belittle people you see as inferior or less than you. When a person with NPD does not receive the treatment they are looking for, they become angry.

Underneath this behavior however often lies a fragile self- esteem.  You have trouble handling criticism and in order to feel better you react in anger and start to belittle others.

What are the Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

As with other mental disorders, the causes are unknown. It could be linked to a dysfunctional childhood, abuse, excessively pampered, neglect, or genetics.

Children may be brought up with lack of affection and praise, may have unpredictable caregiving, or learn manipulative behaviors from parents.  Children may lose to empathize with others when they learn from their parents that vulnerability is unacceptable. Children may also mask their feelings and needs with grandiose and egotistical behaviors.

What is the Treatment?

There are no medications used to treat NPD. Treatment is usually centered around therapy. Cognitive behavior therapy, group therapy, or family therapy can be helpful. Therapy can help you learn to relate with others and better help you to understand your emotions. It can also help you to reshape your personality so you can change patterns of thinking and create a realistic self image.


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How to Spot Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Helen Nieves

Helen Nieves is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Attention Deficit Consultant Specialist. She teaches ADHD on line and is on the Advisory Board at The American Institute of Health Care Professionals. She also received advanced training in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and in Grief Counseling.

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APA Reference
Nieves, H. (2015). How to Spot Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Apr 2015
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