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The information contained on this page is provided as general health information and is not intended to substitute as medical advice and direction from your physician or health care provider. Please direct any questions related to your health care provider. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency center.


Narcissistic personality disorder

Definition

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition in which a person has:

  • An excessive sense of self-importance
  • An extreme preoccupation with themselves
  • A lack of empathy for others

Alternative Names

Personality disorder - borderline; Narcissism

Causes

Cause of this disorder is unknown. Early life experiences, such as insensitive parenting, are thought to play a role in developing this disorder.

Symptoms

A person with this disorder may:

  • React to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
  • Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
  • Have excessive feelings of self-importance
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
  • Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  • Need constant attention and admiration
  • Disregard the feelings of others, and have little ability to feel empathy
  • Have obsessive self-interest
  • Pursue mainly selfish goals

Exams and Tests

Narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation. The health care provider will consider how long and how severe the person's symptoms are.

Treatment

Talk therapy may help the person relate to other people in a more positive and compassionate way.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Outcome of treatment depends on the severity of the disorder and how willing the person is to change.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

  • Alcohol or other drug use
  • Mood and anxiety disorders
  • Relationship, work, and family problems

References

American Psychiatric Association. Narcissistic personality disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013;669-672.

Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA, Hopwood CJ. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 39.