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Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a Cluster B personality disorder. These disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional, or unpredictable thinking or behavior. People with narcissistic personality disorder have an unrealistic sense of self-importance, entitlement, and need for admiration. They often have fantasies of greatness and can be envious when confronted with other successful people. They also tend to be interpersonally exploitative and show little empathy towards others.


The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include:

• Grandiose sense of self-importance

• Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

• Belief that they are “special” and can only be understood by, or should only associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

• Requests for excessive admiration

• Sense of entitlement

• Is interpersonally exploitative

• Lacking in empathy

• Frequently envious of others, or believe others are envious of him or her

• Exhibits arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes


The etiology of narcissistic personality disorder is not well understood, but it is believed to possibly be the result of poor parenting practices. Infants begin life as greatly demanding and self-centred, yet the vast majority of people are properly socialized and become less egocentric by early childhood. However, parents who fail to adequately socialize their children or who are unempathetic toward them can cause their children to remain at this developmental stage.


Compared with other personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorder is associated with a greater risk of death by suicide.


Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder often focuses on addressing the sense of grandiosity, hypersensitivity to evaluation, and lack of empathy for others.

Because those with narcissistic personality disorder are vulnerable to severe bouts of depression, treatment frequently focuses on this aspect of their condition. Antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, are commonly used.

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