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Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Causes & Risk Factors|Symptoms & Diagnosis|Treatment & Management|Key Takeaways
Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a type of personality disorder in which the patient has an inflated sense of self. As a result, one of the signs of narcissistic personality disorder is the intense and unfounded feeling of superiority. People with NPD overrate their talents while underestimating other people’s abilities. NPD got its name from Narcissus, a mortal hunter from Greek mythology who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water.

Causes & Risk Factors

What causes narcissistic personality disorder?

Until now, medical experts still do not know the exact cause of NPD, but they theorize that it is linked to the patient’s environment while they were growing up. It’s possible that during childhood, the patient was overly praised or excessively criticized by their primary caregiver, which in turn deterred them from establishing a well-rounded sense of self.

What are the risk factors?

Although the exact cause has yet to be determined, scientists believe that a combination of the following factors may result in the development of NPD:

  • Childhood trauma, which may include physical, verbal, or sexual abuse
  • Hypersensitivity to light, noise, or texture during childhood
  • Genetics, meaning that the patient may have inherited the condition

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Symptoms & Diagnosis

What are the signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder?

The signs of narcissistic personality disorder usually manifest during adolescence or early adulthood. Please note that some children may show characteristics of narcissism, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will develop NPD in the future.

Patients with NPD exhibit unfounded grandiosity, which means they exaggerate their achievements and overestimate their talents. They believe that they are one of a kind, and so they look down on those around them.

With narcissistic personality disorder, patients usually:

  • Expect to be acknowledged even if they did nothing to warrant recognition
  • Indulge in fantasies of success, beauty, power, and brilliance
  • Dominate the conversations and refuse to acknowledge people whom they believe are inferior
  • Expect to receive special treatment
  • Do not consider the feelings of others
  • Suppose that others are envious of them
  • Demand the best of everything, such as the biggest office space in the company
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want

The signs of narcissistic personality disorder also include the inability to handle criticisms. When someone points out their mistakes, the patient may become enraged and belittle others, become depressed, or viciously counter. Finally, people with NPD show general difficulty in handling their emotions and quickly feel slighted. They also find it hard to cope with stress and don’t like adapting to change. Secretly, they may feel insecure and vulnerable.

How do doctors diagnose this disorder?

Doctors base their NPD diagnosis on:

Signs and symptoms. Please note some traits of NPD are similar to those of other personality disorders. It’s also possible to have more than one personality disorder at a time.

Physical exam. Doctors thoroughly assess the patient to rule out the possibility of a disease causing these personality traits.

Psychological evaluation. Doctors follow the NPD criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

Treatment & Management

What are the possible complications?

When the signs of narcissistic personality disorder are not correctly managed, they may result in complications such as alcoholism and drug abuse, anxiety and depression, conflicts in school or work, and suicidal thoughts and behavior.

What treatments are available for narcissistic personality disorder?

To manage the signs of narcissistic personality disorders, doctors often recommend counseling and certain lifestyle changes. They may also prescribe medication to treat symptoms related to anxiety and depression.


Counseling for NPD is usually centered on psychotherapy or talk therapy. Psychotherapy helps patients better understand and handle their emotions so that they can establish and maintain healthier, more enjoyable relationships.

Two psychotherapy approaches that doctors use to treat NPD are:

Mentalization-based treatment. In this approach, the therapist helps the patient identify their emotions and understand why they feel them. Mentalization-based therapy also helps the patient recognize other people’s state of mind.

Transference-focused psychotherapy. This method emphasizes the interaction between the patient and the therapist. Here, the therapist asks questions and guides the patient to evaluate their unrealistic sense of self. Transference-focused psychotherapy centers on the present rather than the past.

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As of now, there are no medications to treat the signs of narcissistic personality disorder. However, if the patient exhibits anxiety and depression symptoms that disrupt their life, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and/or antipsychotic drugs.

Are there any home remedies for NPD?

Since the primary way to treat NPD is psychotherapy, the lifestyle and home remedies for this personality disorder work hand in hand with the treatment plan. It is crucial to:

  • Stay focused on the goals
  • Form healthier relationships and be contented with one’s life
  • Attend psychotherapy sessions as long as necessary
  • Manage complications that may halt treatment, such as alcoholism and drug abuse

The outcome of the treatment depends on the patient’s willingness to change and the severity of the condition. According to experts, starting with psychotherapy is already half the battle, as the therapist can guide the patient through the rest of the treatment plan.

Key Takeaways

The signs of narcissistic personality disorder include an inflated sense of worth and underestimating other people’s abilities. Since the disorder often lead to poorly managed emotions and interpersonal conflicts, starting on a psychotherapy treatment should be a priority.

Learn more about Healthy Mind here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Nov 24, 2020
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel