Personality Disorder - Narcissism
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There are several personality disorders that effect individuals in a variety of ways. One of the more common personality disorders is narcissism. This particular disorder falls into a group of conditions called dramatic personality disorders… narcissism is when an individual focuses on the self and self-admiration that is taken to an extreme. Individuals who suffer from narcissism personality disorder typically have a false sense of reality. They see things in ways others do not.
There are several identifying characteristics individuals with narcissism personality disorder possess. Some of these indicators are inclusive of, but not limited to: being self-centered and boastful, constantly seeking attention and admiration, exaggerate their talents and achievements, and believe they are entitled to special treatment. There is no one specific known reason for what causes this particular disorder. However, some would argue this disorder is a result of nurture as opposed to nature. In fact, many health professionals believe the disorder results from extremes in child rearing. Assuming there are no physical reasons for why the disorder exists, an individual living with narcissism may be referred to a psychiatrist in an effort to change his or her behavior.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes individuals with NPD as having a sense of entitlement and the need to distinguish themselves from others. These individuals possess the following characteristics:
- Unrealistic views of “grandiose self” whereby they believe they are special due to their talents, and therefore, should be put above others in terms of importance.
- They are convinced their needs, desires and dreams should come first.
- They act in ways to command attention and expect others to do them personal favors.
- They show very little, if any, attention or concern to the needs of others.
- A person with NPD is only interested in others as a means to confirm his or her importance.
- They tend to use others to fulfill their needs and view this as perfectly acceptable and normal.
- At the same time they may exhibit feelings of envy of others although they go out of their way to show how they have more value than the individuals envied.
- They tend to set low standards for themselves so that goals are easily met.
- When they do fail, they find a way to blame the failure on others.
- People with NPD are especially talented at manipulating others and situations.
Narcissistic personality disorder is often comorbid with other mental and personality disorders. As many as 66 percent of individuals who suffer from NPD also suffer from symptoms that fall under the heading of antisocial, borderline, and histrionic personality disorders. As stated by the Harvard Mental Health Letter, “Histrionic personality is characterized by a craving for attention and admiration; antisocial personality by arrogance and disregard for the feelings of others; and borderline personality by emotional volatility,” all of which are traits of NPD. In some cases NPD is not diagnosed until after drug and counseling therapies help bring the other personality disorders under control. The comorbid nature of the disorder is confirmed in that no two people seem to exhibit the disorder in the exact same way.
The prevalence rate of NPD in adults younger that 50 diagnosed in the clinical setting is 12.6 percent. Less than one percent of the population in general suffers from the disorder according to the DSM-IV classifications. A majority of NPD patients, 50 to 75 percent, are men. The onset of the disorder is usually in childhood or early adolescence and has been linked to childhood abuse or trauma. Patients suffering from narcissistic personality disorder are at increased risk for suicide. The suicide risk is greatest during periods of depression although it is still significant during times when the patient is not suffering from depression. The risk of suicide in NPD patients is increased due to their fragile self-esteem. The narcissistic patient would rather die than have his or her perceived level of importance threatened. Additionally, a person suffering from NPD may commit suicide to prove their mastery over death. Findings from one study showed patients with narcissistic personality disorder were 14 percent more likely to commit suicide than patients suffering from other personality disorders.