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Understanding Mental Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)

Overview of NPD

Whereby an individual shows patterns of grandiose self-importance, a need of admiration and/or a lack of empathy. These individuals may believe they are ‘special’, expecting to be accepted as superior to others without any explanations as to why and expect only to associate with high status people or institutions. They may spend a great deal of time fantasizing about superficial things, such as unlimited power, success or beauty and have a sense of entitlement. Individuals may behave selfishly, arrogantly or take advantage of others and lack empathy, yet show a need for excessive admiration from others and become jealous of them.


Although we can’t be certain of the exact cause of NPD, it is most likely a combination of genetics, childhood experiences and psychological factors. Childhood risk factors include generally insensitive parenting, such as being over-praised and excessively indulged as a child, with parents focussing on a specific talent, or physical appearance. Contrarily, being criticised excessively or being set extremely high expectations may also be risk factors. Abuse, trauma and unpredictable levels of care can also be a risk factor.


Treatment for NPD can take a long time to reach a breakthrough, however it is certainly possible to improve the symptoms and effects of the disorder. Psychotherapy is the first line of treatment for NPD, mainly cognitive behavioural therapy which helps the individual to replace grandiose and distorted thoughts with more realistic ones. Psychodynamic therapy is effective in reviewing past relationships and the self in order to see what may have modelled the narcissistic behaviours. Medications may be prescribed if the individual presenting with NPD is suffering with symptoms that may respond to medication, such as SSRI’s for depression or anxiety.

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