Narcissism has been defined as having self-importance, delusions of grandeur, and looking down at everyone else with contempt. Someone with narcissism is also a walking contradiction, as they always want the attention of those they despise. The word narcissism is derived from the Narcissus, a character in Greek mythology who cursed by the gods, falls in love with his reflection because he was completely selfish and care for no one but himself.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder – also known as Megalomania – is a dark personality disorder characterized by grandiosity, a lack of feeling or empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are usually described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also concentrate on fantasies (e.g. their success, beauty, brilliance) and may be convinced that they are entitled special treatment. These characteristics typically begin in adolescent and must be consistently evident in multiple contexts, such as at work and in relationships.
People with Narcissistic Personality disorders are more often than not abusers. The use their power or influence to manipulate people close to them emotionally. They are attention seekers, and they get angry and even become violent when their supply of attention wanes. Examples of characters in popular fiction that display that exhibit this trait are Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, the Evil Queen from Disney film; Snow White, Dorian Grey in the book A Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde.
There is no known cause for this NPD. However, genetic and biological factors, as well as the environmental factors, all play a role in the development of this condition.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder may include but not limited to:
- An exaggerated sense of self-importance or grandiosity
- Extremely fixated on fantasies of attractiveness, beauty, power, success etc.
- In constant need for attention
- Feels entitled to unreasonable expectations of good will and favourable treatment from others especially when undeserved.
- Lack of empathy and disregard for the feelings of others.
- Requires constant attention and admiration from others.
- Takes over conversions and look down on people they regard as inferior
- Unusually proud and pompous
- Over-inflated ego
- Have trouble handling criticism
- Difficulty in regulating behavior and emotions
- Have feelings of self-doubt, insecurity and shame
- Get angry when they don’t receive special treatment.
It is very common to see teenagers display some symptoms narcissistic behavior although these are transient and can be attributed to hormonal changes. True narcissism however is very obvious in adults and steady over time.
People with NPD usually exaggerate their accomplishment, skills and levels of intimacy with people they consider very influential. They can be very controlling and even abusive to their partners using tools like manipulation and gaslighting. Most times their partners serve as or source of attention and failure to supply this attention has dire consequences. Men are more likely to suffer from NPD than women.
Treatment of NPD is difficult as people may not want to believe that they have any mental disorder. This is caused by poor insight or lack of self-criticism. They may enter therapy at the insistence of friends and relatives or because they think they suffer from other mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, depressive disorders or even substance abuse.
It becomes challenging however because they do not usually follow through with treatment as they see it as an insult to their self-esteem. There are no known medications for treating narcissistic personality disorder. However, group therapy seems to work as it builds inter-personal relationships between members of the group.
One should consider seeking help if you recognize aspects of your personality that are common to narcissistic personality disorder.