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What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of many personality disorders and is differentiated from others based on the following characteristics: an inflated sense of self/importance of self, a deep need for attention and or admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. Although a narcissistic individual may seem confident, they have fragile self esteem that is vulnerable to any form of criticism. Additionally, their relationships have underlying currents of exploitation, where they expect to receive favors or use the relationship as a means to get what they want or need. Because of the foundation of their relationships, an individual who is a narcissist usually finds their relationship unfulfilling and others may not enjoy being around them. Narcissistic behavior may also create an overall experience of feeling emptiness and insecurity.

How can Narcissistic Personality Disorder affect individuals?

The characteristics associated with narcissistic personality disorder can affect an individual’s social and occupational well being, as well as their functioning within their family and community. They may become angry or impatient when they don’t receive special treatment or feel criticized when given feedback. In these situations, it is common for the individual to react with rage or contempt, belittling the other person and proceeding to make themselves feel superior. Individuals who are narcissistic have difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviors, which makes it difficult for them to cope through stress or adapting to change.

How do people cope with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder may not want to think that anything is wrong with them and, therefore, are unlikely to seek treatment. If treatment is sought, it is more likely to be for mood irregularity, depression, addiction, or another presenting mental health issue. Moreover, their therapist’s interventions may sometimes be perceived as “attacks and lead to the narcissistic individual refusing to follow through with treatment. Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder could involve medication to stabilize mood irregularities or depression and talk therapy to help address underlying characteristics that are affecting the individual’s functioning and engagement.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.