The current paper discusses the limitations of the current studies on the phenomenon of narcissistic personality disorder. The author dwells on the history of the disorder and how it is perceived by the researchers. The core symptoms of narcissistic personality disorders are identified and thoroughly discussed. The author also reviews several preventive measures and elaborates on the key points of an appropriate treatment plan. The significance of certain parenting skills is also discussed. The study is concluded with a brief paragraph where the author summarizes the key points of the study and draws conclusions based on the findings.
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There are numerous types of personality disorders, and narcissistic personality disorder is one of them. In general, personality disorders can be characterized as certain psychophysics conditions that transform people and their behavior. Therefore, personality disorders adversely impact the ability of an individual to interact with their surroundings. The issue of narcissistic personality disorder is one of the mental health problems that influence both nursing and psychology practices (Kohut, 2012). On a bigger scale, the importance of studying this phenomenon lies in its complexity and insufficient knowledge base concerning the narcissistic personality disorder. While numerous investigators studied the subject, there is very little evidence of what might be the premise of the development of this disorder and its heredity. Nonetheless, the researchers realize the limitations of the current studies and claim that further research will shed light on the mysteries of narcissistic personality disorder.
Criteria for the Diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Often, pretentiousness and excessive bragging are considered to be the most evident criteria to diagnose a narcissistic personality disorder. To diagnose a narcissistic personality disorder, one also may address the individual’s desire to monopolize conversations and perceive the people who surround them as inferior. Moreover, an individual with a narcissistic personality disorder may become irritated or exasperated if they do not receive special treatment at all times. Another criterion for the diagnosis is the individual’s sense of privilege and desire to have everything they want. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder are not proficient in coping with exterior criticism and struggle to react appropriately when being criticized. The person with this particular type of disorder may also have feelings of serious diffidence and humiliation. In most cases, a narcissistic personality disorder is displayed by the state of anger and desire to feel and appear superior by belittling the opponent.
History of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Even though the history of narcissistic personality disorder is rather long, the concept of narcissistic personality disorder as a psychological deviation from the norm only became acknowledged in the second half of the 20th century. Numerous researchers took on the subject of narcissism and investigated its development process. The first individuals to study the problem of disproportionate self-admiration were philosophers and thinkers. They saw narcissism as a state of thrilling egotism and an inflated sense of self-importance. The contemporary study of the subject showed that this disorder might have serious implications for the mental health of the individuals and majorly impact the surroundings. One of the most extensive theories concerning narcissistic personality disorder was presented by Freud. He believed that narcissists transferred their love to other subjects and individuals. As a result, they experienced a lack of protection and were obliged to find a way to defend themselves.
Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Despite the existing evidence, there is no direct causal dependency between narcissistic personality disorder and all the probable premises that were previously identified. Nonetheless, the researchers were able to single out two key causes they believe are the origin of the disorder. First, they highlight the issues inherent in the parent-child relationships (including unnecessary cossetting or undue disparagement).
Second, the researchers identify genetics as one of the causes due to its psychobiological nature and the link between behavioral patterns and brain activity.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder are rather different and relate to an extensive array of psychological characteristics. The key symptom is the overwhelming sense of haughtiness. Narcissistic individuals tend to believe they are superior even without any accomplishments that may support their claims. Moreover, these individuals are often found exaggerating their abilities and mostly fantasize about their success and perfection (DiMaggio & Attinà, 2012). Another symptom that may be found in individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder is the feeling that they are misunderstood and should be surrounded only by flawless individuals like themselves. Another symptom is the unwillingness of these individuals to accept anything that falls short of their expectations. In this case, they prefer exploiting others to get what they want. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder are also found to disregard the needs and feelings of other people due to an atrophied sense of compassion.
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Different Types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
It is safe to say that narcissistic personality disorder can be described as a homogeneous syndrome. Nonetheless, there are several variations in how it is displayed by the narcissist individuals. The two key subtypes of narcissistic personality disorder are called “grandiose” and “vulnerable” (Levy, 2012). The first is described as a demonstration of unnecessary arrogance and abusively excessive self-assurance. The second is a vivid representation of hypersensitivity and frailty. Both these subtypes are characterized by the lack of empathy and a high level of exhibitionism.
Prevention of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
There are no known definite prevention measures. Nevertheless, several activities may help the individual to mitigate the individual manifestation of narcissistic personality disorder. First, if the problem is identified during childhood, it should be addressed as soon as possible. Second, effective communication and participation in family therapy may help to evade conflicts and emotional anguish. The parents may also prevent the manifestation of narcissistic behavior by attending special classes where therapists will provide them with necessary information concerning the narcissistic personality disorder.
Treatment Plans for Short-term Goals and Long-term Goals
Short-term treatment revolves around several goals. The first and the most important is to help the person to equalize their relationships with others. The personal nature of the relationships should be supported, and the person with a narcissistic personality disorder is expected to stabilize their relationships with colleagues and family (Marissen, Deen, & Franken, 2012). Another short-term goal is to increase the ability to understand one’s feelings. This means that the person will have to give up on their unreachable objectives and perfect conditions. In this case, the short-term goal is aimed at bringing the patient back to real life.
Several long-term goals may only be achieved after several years of therapy. First, the individual with a narcissistic personality disorder has to re-evaluate his or her behavioral triggers and acknowledge the origin of the displayed emotions. With time, the person will be able to react to criticism adequately and learn how to recover from failure (Marissen et al., 2012). This is the second long-term goal which is aimed at discovering the individual’s genuine competencies and potentials. The third long-term goal is to help the person accept that the problem with their self-esteem exists and realize the impact it has on them and their surroundings.
Tips or Suggestions on How to Overcome Narcissistic Personality Disorder
When it goes down to overcoming narcissism, it is crucial to learn to be an empath and understand others’ perspectives. Patients with narcissistic personality disorder should re-educate themselves and pay attention to the feelings and needs of other individuals. Another suggestion is to train responsiveness and highlight the differences between narcissistic personality and other individuals. The patients have to learn how to listen to other people and focus on their perspectives.
Parenting Skills to Help the Individuals
Parents are responsible for a lot of things when it comes to their children and everything that happens to them. First, the parents are required to educate themselves and conduct research on narcissistic personality disorder. On a bigger scale, this is a perfect possibility to acknowledge the symptoms of the disorder, quickly identify the risk factors, and organize a treatment plan. The parents should know the medications that serve as the treatment for mental health problems. To evade emotional pain and any other difficulties linked to sentiments, the parents should know how to relax and correctly perceive the key aspects of stress management (Vater et al., 2013). One of the strategies that may be used to reduce stress is meditation (including yoga). Another important parenting skill is the ability to stay focused on the ultimate goal of the treatment. It is a well-known fact that narcissistic personality disorder cannot be rejected in a matter of a week or two. It is important to motivate yourself and keep the goals of the treatment in mind at all times. In the end, the focus on the restoration of the relationships can be explained by the ability to transform the life to the better and repair the parent-child connection.
Evidence-based Therapies for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The most prevalent evidence-based therapy for a narcissistic personality disorder is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This approach can be used with all types of narcissistic personality disorder and patients of all ages and backgrounds. This therapy is intended for the improvement of the quality of life of the patients and their families. The effect of this therapy is called behavioral modification. Ultimately, the individual with a narcissistic personality disorder will replace detrimental activities with those that are not harmful (Beck & Freeman, 2013). There are two types of cognitive-behavioral therapy. First, the therapists use exposure therapy which allows them to decay the sensitivity of the narcissist patients. Second, the therapists help the patients to engage in psychoeducational activities. This assists the latter in understanding their mental condition and its impact on the mental processes occurring in their brain.
The current literature on the subject of narcissistic personality disorder does not provide a satisfactory amount of information concerning several aspects. Regardless of extensive research, a vast number of questions remain unanswered. It is safe to conclude that further research in the field is obligatory. Future investigations should be aimed at identifying the key premises of the development of narcissistic personality disorder. It would be beneficial for all the parties involved in the issue of dealing with this particular disorder. Moreover, it is also possible to conclude that the process of treatment is unequivocally real, but the therapists have to take into consideration the time-frame of the treatment plan which may expand dynamically based on the patient’s condition.
Beck, A. T., & Freeman, A. (2013). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
DiMaggio, G., & Attinà, G. (2012). Metacognitive interpersonal therapy for narcissistic personality disorder and associated perfectionism. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(8), 922-934.
Kohut, H. (2012). The analysis of the self: A systematic approach to the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders. New York, NY: International Universities Press.
Levy, K. N. (2012). Subtypes, dimensions, levels, and mental states in narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(8), 886-897.
Marissen, M. A., Deen, M. L., & Franken, I. (2012). Disturbed emotion recognition in patients with a narcissistic personality disorder. Psychiatry Research, 198(2), 269-273.
Vater, A., Ritter, K., Schröder-Abé, M., Schütz, A., Lammers, C., Bosson, J. K., & Roepke, S. (2013). When grandiosity and vulnerability collide: Implicit and explicit self-esteem in patients with narcissistic personality disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 44(1), 37-47.