Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, was first included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) that is used by mental health professionals in 1980. While this syndrome affects less than 1% of the population, men make up 75% of those exhibiting the symptoms and suffering from the consequences of this condition. Narcissism, like all of the other harmful conditions in this family of personality disorders, needs specialized psychological treatment intervention if the sufferer is to overcome his or her difficulties with self-aborption.
What is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
People with NPD are not just conceited; they are so focused on their own psychological and physical needs that they have difficulty taking into account the feelings of other people, even those who are very close to them. Their actions are based predominantly on their own needs and objectives, and other people do not enter into their behavioral equations. Men and women who suffer from this disorder may honestly believe that they are more important than their peers and often behave inappropriately because of these feelings of superiority. This makes relationships with family, friends, and casual acquaintances difficult to maintain.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Behaviors exhibited by those suffering from NPD are often unusually provocative. People with this problem may:
- Consider themselves to be better or more important than the people with whom they associate
- Dream of reaching the pinnacle of success and holding power over others
- Believe that they are worthy of great admiration or praise
- Enhance stories of their successes and abilities
- Express jealousy or envy of other people’s success
- Desire to monopolize every conversation
- Need constant positive reinforcement
- Display behaviors that indicate that they think they are exceptional and deserve special treatment
- Have an inability to empathize with the emotions of other people
- Suspect that other people are envious of them
- Harbor unrealistic expectations or goals
- Feel contempt for anyone they feel is beneath them in status or achievement
- Appear to be stubborn or hard-hearted in dealing with others
- Become enraged when unable to control a situation or when challenged by others
- Feel overly sensitive to hints of rejection
- Have difficulty maintaining long-term relationships
- Boast or speak in a pretentious manner
People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder do not have normal self-esteem; instead, they require constant confirmation of their merit. This causes them to act and speak in such as way as to be admired by others. In turn, this causes them to be viewed as arrogant and conceited by those around them and places a strain on most of their relationships.
Causes of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Research is still in progress concerning the cause of NPD. Many have theorized that this condition is connected to the type of parenting one receives as a child. The hypothesis is that parents who give in to every whim of their children or who set unrealistic goals for them may be setting them up for this psychological disorder. In contrast, some researchers feel that this disorder may develop out of childhood neglect or harsh parenting. Still others feel that there could be a genetic connection or maybe even some biological cause for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Some believe that NPD could partially be a learned behavior that develops when children copy the manipulative techniques used by their parents. Currently there is no definitive answer.
Types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Although researchers are not in agreement about the way narcissism should be classified, Theodore Millon divides this disorder into 5 different subtypes even though some individuals with narcissism may not fit into these categories:
Unprincipled Narcissist: This person have traits associated with antisocial personality and lies, cheats, and exploits other people with limited remorse for misbehavior or wrongdoing.
Amorous Narcissist: People in this subtype are extremely emotional and are inappropriately erotic.
Compensatory Narcissist: This person may have some passive-aggressive tendencies and feel inadequate when dealing with social situations.
Elitist Narcissist: This subtype includes people who have a highly-inflated opinion of themselves and seek admiration through social success. They may seek approval by overcompensating and bragging.
Fanatic Narcissist: People in this category may have suffered some childhood trauma that resulted in a lack of self-esteem. Consequently, they fantasize about and put into play grand schemes that will make them appear significant in the eyes of others. When these actions fail to impress their associates, they begin to think of themselves as a hero with a great mission to accomplish.
Men and women who have narcissistic tendencies based on their intellectual abilities or scholarly achievements may be labeled as “Cerebral.” Those who base their narcissism on the shape of their body or other physical assets may be labeled “Somatic.”
Treatment Options for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Psychotherapy is the tool most often used to treat NPD, and results cannot be expected quickly. Therapists usually work to help the patient overcome related issues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, guilt, shame or depression first. The patient may work on long-term personality changes through various forms of psychotherapy, working toward eliminating undesirable concepts of self and modifying them so that the narcissist makes behavioral choices that are less alienating to others. Treatment for NPD may also include family therapy and group therapy as well. These can help patients to become more empathic and to work toward developing communication skills that will help in maintaining healthy relationships with others.
Although prescription drugs may be used in the treatment of NPD, they are not employed with the intention of curing this disorder. No combination of drugs has yet been found to be effective in eliminating the problematic behaviors typical of this disorder. However, doctors may utilize certain medications in an effort to keep any associated anxiety, guilt or depression under control during treatment. Patients should be extremely careful to keep their doctors apprised of all medicines that they have been using, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, as serious interactions may occur.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder FAQ
Many newly diagnosed patients and their families have questions about NPD and the treatment process. The following information may answer some of these preliminary queries:
When does NPD usually develop?
Although some children and teens have been known to exhibit many of the signs of NPD, most doctors prefer to take a watchful attitude and rarely make this diagnosis at such a young age, because narcissistic patterns and behavior may be normal at some stages of child and adolescent development. NPD is usually diagnosed in the early stages of adulthood or later.
Which prescription drugs are appropriate for the treatment of someone with NPD?
Doctors will sometimes use medications to treat the symptoms of NPD and associated illnesses. The drugs most often used may be anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-psychotic prescriptions. Some patients may not receive any of these while others may need several of them in combination for effective treatment.
How often are therapy sessions scheduled?
The amount of time spent in therapy often changes as progress occurs. Most patients go to therapy at least once a week and often several times a week during the first months of treatment. Follow-up visits are then scheduled as needed.
How does talk therapy help someone with NPD?
During psychotherapy, patients with NPD learn to speak honestly about their thoughts and emotions. They begin to identify their core assumptions and beliefs about themselves and see them clearly enough to consider the impact that their self-concept may have upon their behavioral choices. Talk therapy can also help patients deal with the guilt resulting from the damage that their actions might have caused in past relationships.
What can friends and family do to be supportive of those with NPD?
Friends and family can show that they care by learning as much about this Narcissistic Personality Disorder as they can. They can encourage patients to follow their prescribed treatment plans and to stay focused on their long term recovery goals. Loved ones can also help by participating in family therapy sessions, if needed, and by practicing stress reduction techniques with the patient once he or she completes the residential program.
Why Should People Choose Bridges to Recovery for Narcissistic Personality Disorder Residential Treatment
Many patients feel that they want a Narcissistic Personality Disorder treatment plan that will have the least impact on their normal activities; however, this may not be the best option for speeding recovery. Residential treatment programs for NPD, such as those offered by Bridges to Recovery, can provide every aspect of therapy in a single setting. Any medications that are prescribed can be monitored for side effects, and doctors can work toward finding the appropriate balance of these drugs before the patient returns home.
All of the concerned doctors, therapists, and staff at Bridges to Recovery are experienced in helping men and women with Narcissistic Personality Disorder learn to cope with this condition and learn to respond appropriately in challending social, occupational, and personal situations. At Bridges to Recovery, patients will also be treated for other mental health issues that may have developed in conjunction with NPD. In the calming environment provided by residential treatment, patients are removed from the normal stress and strain of their lives so that they can have this period to focus on learning to manage their NPD. Once their condition is under control, they can then slowly reintegrate back into their normal activities under the guidance of their treatment team at Bridges to Recovery.
For people who need transitional care but are no longer candidates for hospitalization, Bridges to Recovery can offer treatment in an alternative residential setting. This licensed program uses a holistic approach with treatment provided by therapists trained at the doctoral level. For almost ten years, this state-of- the-art residential treatment facility has helped patients recover from the trauma, anxiety, and fear associated with phobias.
The medical team and staff at Bridges to Recovery use all of the most advanced techniques to help patients triumph over the fearsi that have been a part of their lives for so long that some can no longer carry out daily activities. Bridges to Recovery provides a safe place for frightened people to regain their equilibrium and establish new patterns for living. This caring residential environment can give patients the right attitude, optimism and hope necessary to complete treatment and find peace.