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
Cause of this disorder is unknown. Early life experiences, such as insensitive parenting, are thought to play a role in developing this disorder.
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.
Talk therapy may help the person relate to other people in a more positive and compassionate way.
Outcome of treatment depends on the severity of the disorder and how willing the person is to change.
Complications may include:
- Alcohol or other drug use
- Relationship, work, and family problems
Personality disorder - borderline; Narcissism
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.
Review Date 7/29/2016
Updated by: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.