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BACKGROUND: Few studies have examined the prevalence and treatment of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Narcissistic personality disorder

Last reviewed: November 10, 2012.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an excessive sense of self-importance, an extreme preoccupation with themselves, and lack of empathy for others.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

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

Symptoms

A person with narcissistic personality 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

Signs and tests

Narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation that assesses the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

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

Expectations (prognosis)

Outcome of treatment depends on the severity of the disorder.

Complications

  • Alcohol or other drug dependence
  • Relationship, work, and family problems

References

  1. Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadellphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 39.

Review Date: 11/10/2012.

Reviewed by: David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

What works?

  • Community mental health teams for people with severe mental illnesses and disordered personalityCommunity mental health teams for people with severe mental illnesses and disordered personality
    Since the 1950s there has been a trend to close institutions of care for people who are mentally unwell. In addition, government policy has sought to reduce the number of hospital beds available in favour of care being provided in the community to enable people to live more independent lives. The aim of Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs) is to bring a specialist care package to people in the community. We reviewed the available evidence on CMHTs compared with standard non‐team community care. We found only three trials which indicated some benefit in terms of acceptability of treatment, but overall the evidence for CMHTs is inadequate and further trials are needed to determine its effectiveness.
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