Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder generally believe that the world revolves around them. This condition is characterized by a lack of ability to empathize with others and a desire to keep the focus on themselves at all times.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder involves arrogant behavior, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration-all of which must be consistently evident at work and in relationships. People who are narcissistic are frequently described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. Narcissists may concentrate on unlikely personal outcomes (e.g., fame) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. Related Personality Disorders: Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic. Narcissism is a less extreme version of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissism involves cockiness, manipulativeness, selfishness, power motives, and vanity-a love of mirrors. Related personality traits include: Psychopathy, Machiavellianism.
Narcissists tend to have high self-esteem. However, narcissism is not the same thing as self-esteem; people who have high self-esteem are often humble, whereas narcissists rarely are. It was once thought that narcissists have high self-esteem on the surface, but deep down they are insecure. However, the latest evidence indicates that narcissists are actually secure or grandiose at both levels. Onlookers may infer that insecurity is there because narcissists tend to be defensive when their self-esteem is threatened (e.g., being ridiculed); narcissists can be aggressive. The sometimes dangerous lifestyle may more generally reflect sensation-seeking or impulsivity (e.g., risky sex, bold financial decisions).
Also, narcissists are usually physically attractive and charming at first glance, so they may have advantages when they first meet people (making a sale, getting a first date, gaining popularity). However, the long-term outcomes for narcissists are usually quite dismal, especially socially (e.g., long-term relationship difficulties). On average, levels of narcissism drop quite dramatically by age 30.
Causes are not yet well-understood. Genes play a significant role (approximately 50%), but the unique ways that environments shape people (e.g., peer interactions) also influence narcissism. Related hypotheses include:
Clinical treatment is rare because most narcissists avoid therapy. However, narcissists can learn to be more caring about others, and narcissism can be reduced when these individuals are included in social groups.
Psychotherapy may be useful in getting the individual with narcissistic personality disorder to relate to others in a less maladaptive manner.
(Additional information by Nicholas S. Holtzman)