Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by an inflated sense of superiority and a constant need for attention and approval. A person with narcissistic personality disorder tends to think the world revolves around her. Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder last for years and are present across a variety of situations. Up to 6 percent of adults may be affected by this disorder, which is more common in men than in women, according to a study published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychiatrity” (2008).
On the surface, narcissistic personality disorder may appear to be nothing more than healthy self-esteem or confidence. But there are important differences between being self-confident and having narcissistic personality disorder. People with narcissistic personality disorder have an inflated sense of self-worth. Healthy confidence doesn’t involve putting yourself on a pedestal or devaluing other people, but narcissistic personality disorder does.
Narcissism is defined as excessive self-love or admiration for oneself. The narcissism definition comes from the Greek myth about Narcissus, a young man who fell in love with his own reflection. People with this narcissistic personality disorder have an abnormally strong love of themselves; they believe that they are better than anyone else and that their needs should always come first.
Signs of Narcissism
Pathological narcissism falls under the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders. Common symptoms of narcissism include:
- Disdain for inferiors
- Expecting constant attention and praise
- Failure to recognize others’ feelings and emotions
- Feelings of superiority
- Fantasies about power, success and attractiveness
- Lack of empathy
- Tendency to exaggerate about talents or achievements
- Tendency to take advantage of others
- Trouble maintaining healthy relationships
- Unemotional facade.
In addition, a person with narcissistic personality disorder symptoms will tend to think he is better than others. He believes that he’s special, and behaves in accordance with this belief. People with this disorder also have a tendency to think that their ideas are best, and people should go along with them without hesitation.
Beneath all this bravado, however, often lies a fragile ego and low self-esteem. Someone with pathological narcissism is easily hurt. In addition, he has a tendency to take criticism personally, often reacting with shame, humiliation or anger. He may disparage others in an attempt to make himself look better.
People with narcissistic personality disorder are often attractive and charming, at least at first. They may have initial success in their career or when dating. However, the signs of narcissism soon become apparent, making long-term relationships difficult, if not impossible. As is the case with most personality disorders, symptoms of narcissism are strongest in young adults but tend to subside as the person ages.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Narcissistic personality disorder. Retrieved September 7, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652