While the label of “Narcissist” is being tossed about these days to describe people who are self-centered and self-absorbed, there is much more to understanding the actual psychological conditions of Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is defined as a mental disorder, one of 10 personality disorders officially classified in the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association (the DSM-5) and used as the basis of clinical diagnoses by mental health professionals.
Individuals with NPD demonstrate a pervasive and long-standing pattern of grandiosity (in their fantasies, thoughts and behaviors), an intense need for admiration and a marked lack of empathy for others. Being interpersonally exploitive is a common trait (taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends) as is possessing a sense of entitlement (the right to do whatever serves their interests, even if their actions are extreme or outrageous in the eyes of others). Some are envious of others or believe that others are envious them. Some are arrogant or haughty, among other characteristics.
While their behaviors can convey a strong sense of self-confidence, professionals in the field point to personal insecurities and low self-esteem often hiding behind the facade that they outwardly present.
To be diagnosed with NDP a person must meet at least 5 or 9 official diagnostic criteria. However, diagnosis can be difficult as those who have the disorder avoid seeking professional help — or resist cooperating if they end up in therapy, since they tend not to believe they have a problem (and they can be skilled at convincing even professionals of a false identity).
The condition is typically rooted in adolescence or early adulthood and can show up in overt (conspicuous) form or be hidden from plain view by charm, perceived benevolence, manipulation and deception.
Covert Narcissists can cause tremendous damage before their victims know “what hit them”. Obvious, aggressive Malignant Narcissists can be highly destructive as well.
The condition is a complicated one with many facets and not all Narcissists are the same.
For those who wish to see the diagnostic criteria and read more about the condition, its causes, treatments and other considerations, several resources (among many others) are here:
Valuable resources for further understanding and positive action are featured under the SOLUTIONS tab above.