Treating personality disorders isn’t easy, and narcissistic personality disorder is no exception. Narcissistic personality disorder, which is characterized by an inflated sense of self-worth and entitlement, is best treated with psychotherapy. However, most people with this disorder think so highly of themselves that they can’t imagine they need help, so they don’t seek treatment on their own.
Narcissistic Personality Inventory
Narcissism is typically diagnosed using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), an assessment designed in 1979 consisting of 223 pairs of situations, one reflecting narcissistic behavior and one not. Based on the patient’s responses to these questions, a psychiatrist can determine whether or not the patient needs narcissistic personality disorder treatment.
Typical signs of narcissism include:
- Arrogant behavior
- Expectation of preferential treatment
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism and rejection
- Lack of empathy
- Preoccupation with beauty, success and power
- Tendency to expect others to go along with his own plans.
The Narcissistic Personality Inventory helps to rule out other personality disorders, such as antisocial or histrionic personality disorder–two other disorders characterized by dramatic behavior. A thorough assessment is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment for Narcissism: Medication
No medications have been specifically approved as a treatment for narcissism, and medication is not generally recommended for dealing with narcissisistic personality disorder. In some cases, drugs may be prescribed to manage symptoms such as anxiety and depression. However, some antidepressant medications, such as SSRIs, may boost narcissism symptoms such as grandiose behavior and lack of empathy.
In severe cases, hospitalization may be required for narcissistic personality disorder treatment. This is usually necessary only when the patient exhibits self-harming behavior or seems severely out of touch with reality. The most effective hospital treatment is often short, with an emphasis on treating specific symptoms.
Treatment for Narcissism: Therapy
Psychotherapy is often the preferred treatment for narcissism. A trained therapist helps the patient identify learn to better relate to other people and to cope with his feelings and emotions.
Short-term therapy is particularly useful for dealing with the side effects of narcissism, which may include substance abuse and feelings of shame, low self-esteem and depression. Family therapy, which involves the patient’s family, and group therapy, which involves meeting other people with narcissistic personality disorder, may also be beneficial.
Although therapy is the best method for dealing with narcissistic personality disorder, it may pose problems. People with this disorder may have trouble trusting their therapist or doctor. Their narcissistic behavior may also cause them to belittle and criticize the therapist, leading to a strained relationship.
Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (n.d.). Narcissistic personality disorder. Retrieved September 7, 2010, from http://www.minddisorders.com/Kau-Nu/Narcissistic-personality-disorder.html
Grohol, J.M. (2010). Narcissistic personality disorder. Retrieved September 7, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx36.htm
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Narcissistic personality disorder. Retrieved September 7, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. (2009). Narcissistic personality disorder. Retrieved September 7, 2010, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_narcissistic_personality_disorder.aspx