Narcissism is a psychological disorder that is characterized by a grandiose sense of self, the need for acknowledgement and devaluation of others. These characteristics can be normal and even expected in adolescents, but tend to decrease into adulthood.
Narcissism as a personalty disorder usually starts in the first phases of adulthood, and is more common in men than women. It can occur with other disorders, like anorexia or substance abuse disorder. It can affect your social circle, family and work or school life.
The diagnosis of this disorder is usually confirmed by a psychologist or psychiatrist based on assessment of the presenting symptoms. Treatment is done with psychotherapy, but in some cases, the doctor can prescribe medications to manage symptoms like anxiety or depression.
A narcissistic personality has many ego-centric characteristics, with the main ones being:
- A feeling of grandeur and entitlement
- Need for attention and admiration
- Lack of empathy
- Expecting special treatment or privilege
- Jealous of other people or believing other people are jealous of them
- Arrogant attitude or behaviors
- Poor social relations, not many friends
- Taking advantage of other people for their own benefit
- Devaluing other people
- Constant worry about their own appearance, power or success
- Manipulative behaviors to get their way
- Fear of rejection or humiliation
People with narcissism disorder tend to have a vulnerable self-esteem, which makes them not very receptive to criticism. They take criticism as a personal attack, leading them to feel humiliated or angry enough to fight back. It is also possible for people with this disorder to have a low income, as they tend to avoid situations in which they may lose or may jeopardize their feelings of grandiose.
This disorder can be accompanied by other situations, like anorexia nervosa, substance abuse or other personality disorders (e.g. borderline, paranoid or antisocial).
How to deal with a narcissist
Normally, people who have narcissistic personality disorder do not know they have it, and think they are in a completely normal situation. Nonetheless, friends and family who observe traits that are specific to narcissism can recommend psychological assessment, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
People who associate with narcissists on a daily basis should also be assessed by a psychologist, as the constant depreciation received from a narcissist can trigger feelings of sadness and depression.
Treatment for narcissistic personalty disorder is completed with conversion psychotherapy. It aims to improve the person’s quality of life and encourages the development of strategies to cope with different aspects of life, like relationships, and emotions.
In some cases, the psychiatrist may recommend medications like antidepressants or anxiolytics to treat symptoms that can appear in stressful situations. These are usually used to complement psychotherapy.