14 Mar 2021

What Exactly is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

This one word "Narcissism" is spreading like a pandemic these days. There is so much mention of it everywhere. People suffering from narcissism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder are causing chaos in the lives of their loved ones especially children and spouse to the extent of causing various mental illnesses and sometimes personality disorders.

What exactly is this narcissism. Sometimes people use this word in rage for someone who has deeply hurt them or with whom they are angry or want to just call them a bad name. But narcissism is more than just being "a bad person". Narcissism is a real "Personality Disorder". It is complicated and poison for society. Let's see what it is.

According to psychologists, a person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder has an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They are preoccupied with seeking attention,  admiration. The most important trait is that they lack empathy.

According to specialists in the field of psychology, there are two types of Narcissists, Grandiose and Vulnerable.

Grandiose Narcissists: Their dominant traits are aggression, dominance, and grandiosity due to which they overestimate their and underestimate others' abilities. They possess a high sense of entitlement. They brag a lot about their achievements, qualities, capabilities, and talents, etc. For this type of Narcissist, their family is a victim of abuse and dysfunctionality as they are arrogant, demanding, aggressive, outspoken, hard-headed, assertive, and determined in close relationships. This type of Narcissist doesn't see any problem with them are happy with themselves. 

Vulnerable Narcissists: This type has a very fragile sense of self-esteem. They are hypersensitive towards criticism and rejection from the outside. They use arrogance and disdain to hide this shame. They fear intimacy and commitment which results from the fear of rejection and criticism by their intimate partner. Though they look absorbed with achievement and fantasies but in reality, they harbor profound shame about their ambition. Unlike the Grandiose, this type of Narcissist feels miserable about themselves as they have a high level of negative affectivity like worrying, emotional, defensive, anxiety, bitter, tense, and complaining.

Both of these show low modesty is arrogance, have a superiority complex and a sense of grandiosity(fantasy or behavior) along with low altruism, and low empathy beginning by early adulthood.

Diagnostic Criteria:-

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by FIVE (or more) of the following:
  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or autonomic compliance with his or her expectations).
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Note:-The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and, are not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of a qualified mental health professional with any questions you have regarding a medical health condition.


Reference: American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013).

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