You've probably heard of Narcissus of Greek mythology; the handsome mortal who fell in love with his own reflection on the pond. This story is fiction, of course, but its theme - excessive self-love and admiration - is a thing of reality. Familiar with the term, "narcissism"?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), from the term narcissism, is taken from the Greek mythology mentioned above, or "God complex." It is a kind of personality disorder classified with other conditions such as borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
How can you tell if somebody has Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
He projects too much self-importance. A person with this disorder may feel that everything revolves around him. He feels that he is entitled to become very successful and popular, and that he should associate only with people of his same high standards. He is generally self-absorbed and believes that his opinions and feelings should be the utmost priority of everybody around him. He is very ambitious to the point that he would like to achieve his goals, no matter what.
He requires excessive admiration. He would not only like to be praised and admired but he would live for it. One of his primary reasons for wanting to excel and succeed is because he believes it would cause others to approve of him. This symptom, in fact, may be due to a latent need to be accepted.
He tries to control other people's behavior or opinions. As a person with NPD is intolerant of other people's viewpoints he would insist on having his way, sometimes to the point of becoming physically or emotionally abusive toward others.
He is extremely sensitive to criticism. Beneath his very confident and arrogant exterior, he usually has a deep, innate need to be loved and wanted by others. A person with NPD might feel that he is highly flawed, and he would compensate by asserting and promoting himself more in order to avoid disapproval. In addition, he might often react with disdain or rage to real or imagined criticism.
He lacks empathy. A person with NPD is pathologically unaware of other people's needs and the effects that his behavior has on them. As he is self-absorbed, he chooses only to focus on himself and his situations. He is tagged as extremely insensitive and uncaring, even toward his loved ones. As a parent, he has a tendency to neglect his child.
As you can see, the symptoms are related to one another, and all revolve around the central theme of excessive preoccupation with one's self. Some people may exhibit narcissism, but will not necessarily be diagnosed with NPD; mostly, it's NPD if they display the above symptoms in a way that would disable them from maintaining long-term career development, or meaningful social relationships. In fact, it is typical for adolescents and young adults to exhibit these symptoms, but they would usually grow out of it.
What could be the possible causes of NPD? Several factors may be at play, but generally psychologists place the time of these causes as during the person's early childhood. It may be because of the parents' overindulgence or excessive admiration that was never balanced by realistic feedback; it may be because his parents placed a high premium on achievement and strict punishment for poor behaviors; or it may be due to unpredictable or unreliable care giving from parents or even severe emotional abuse during childhood.
Whatever the reasons may be, if you feel that a person close to you or you yourself have NPD, respond to it as you would any other psychological condition. Don't judge the person himself and brush off his behaviors in annoyance; it is important that you understand that his behavior is a manifestation of a deeper, underlying condition, which needs professional treatment.