An inflated sense of self-importance or an obsession with oneself, as well as grandiosity are the terms used to describe the personality disorder, which is known as the narcissistic personality disorder. The name of this disorder has been derived from the name of a Greek mythological hero, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. The name of the disorder implies excessive self admiration and self-love. The individuals with this personality disorder not only develop an exaggerated sense of self-importance, but also an unusual need for admiration.
Though the exact causes are not known properly, several factors are believed to have an association with the development of this disorder. It is generally observed that this disorder develops in childhood and early adolescence. So, it is believed that the upbringing of a child, and a child's relationship with her parents or elders can play a very crucial role in shaping her personality.
Factors that are often thought to contribute towards the development of this disorder are, overindulgence or excessive pampering, over-expectation from children, excessive praise for achievements or beauty, and harsh criticism for poor behavior and performance, etc. Even child abuse and neglect, a lack of affection and admiration, and emotional abuse can be associated with this disorder.
The failure of the parents or caregivers to establish a healthy relationship and empathetic attachment with the child, can also be associated with this personality disorder. As a result, the child may begin to regard herself as non-significant and unconnected to others. This can make her believe that her personality is defective, which is the reason why her parents or elders have not accepted her. Eventually, this can make her self-absorbed and intolerant to the needs and views of others.
With growing age, the child is also likely to become extremely sensitive to criticism, which can compel her to vehemently defy even the slightest criticism, and withdraw socially. Gradually, in order to protect her from criticism and rejection, the child may begin to feign a sense of excessive self-importance and superiority.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissist individuals can be quite egoistic and unsympathetic towards the feelings and emotions of others. A lack of empathy towards others, fantasizing about success, power, and attractiveness, as well as a belief of being superior to others are some important characteristics of such individuals. But in reality, the affected individuals can suffer from low self-esteem. So, all those boasting and self-importance can be termed as a deceptive mask they wear to conceal their inadequacies, and avoid the painful experience of criticism and rejection.
Some other symptoms of this personality disorder are, exaggerating talent or achievement, expectation of constant attention and admiration from others, disdain or contempt for people whom they consider inferior, jealousy and a belief that others are jealous of them, arrogance, and haughty behavior. However, a little bit of self-admiration may be quite common among adolescents, and hence need not be interpreted as a personality disorder. Even mature individuals can have a little bit of self-admiration and self-love. But excessive self-adulation can adversely affect the life of an affected individual, and the people around her.
Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The treatment of this disorder is a subject matter of psychotherapy. Generally, both cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy are employed for treating this disorder. There are no medications to treat the disorder, but if the affected person is suffering from depression and anxiety, then antidepressants can be prescribed by the therapist. This personality disorder can sometimes cause certain major complications, like drug or alcohol abuse, depression, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, problems at work, and troubled relationships. The treatment is therefore, aimed towards preventing these complications and bringing about a change in the personality of the affected individual.
An in-depth understanding about this disorder can help diagnose the condition. An understanding about the causes of narcissist personality disorder can help parents or caregivers know the adverse effects of excessive admiration and harsh criticism. This in turn, can help them avoid some common mistakes that people make in the upbringing of their children.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.