Narcissistic personality disorder has always been an important issue to analyze. Like any other psychological condition, this notion is rather complicated and is difficult to explore and treat. However, there are already many findings regarding the nature of the disorder and medical solutions. Narcissism is characterized by the inadequate self-esteem of patients and an obsession with their own personality. This research paper will explore the main symptoms of these psychological abnormalities. The negative impact of the disorder on patients and their social environment will also be studied in detail. Although the condition requires an individual approach in every case, the paper will focus on the general principles of treatment, such as the collaboration of patients and therapists and the combination of medical and therapeutic treatment. The analysis of the most important aspects concerning the disorder will help understand this condition better.
Psychological diseases and syndromes remain one of the most unexplored fields of medicine. However, many studies have already been conducted to analyze the case of narcissistic personality disorder, specifically, its symptoms, consequences, and treatment. This problem seriously affects different aspects of the patient’s life and behavior, and therefore, it is necessary to understand the most important features of this psychological condition. In this research paper, the main aspects concerning narcissistic personality disorder, such as its symptoms, effects, and methods of treatment, will be analyzed in detail.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a complicated notion connected with the inadequate perception of oneself. NPD is defined as “a form of pathological functioning that drives the individual to be obsessed with their own importance, beauty, status or body image combined with insensitivity or compassion for others” (Arterburn & Kuhlman, 2018, para. 2). Self-admiration, in this case, is the central idea of patients, which distinguishes them from healthy people who like to be praised or admired.
Researchers confirm that the syndrome can be caused by multiple factors, such as inheritance, psychological trauma, or the individual peculiarities of a person’s life and temperament. The main symptoms are associated with the disconnection between feeling and relating. It means that patients become detached from their feelings and have difficulties connecting them to interpersonal relationships and communication. Additional signs of the disorder are connected with “challenges in emotion processing in patients with NPD, especially related to shame, fear, and anger” (Ronningstam, 2016, p. 37). Finally, patients become “emotionally detached with negative reactivity, interpersonal maneuvering, or critical attitude” (Ronningstam, 2016, p. 35). Researchers consider these signs sufficient reasons to start a comprehensive treatment.
Narcissism is a long-term disorder that is often accompanied by other psychological issues and unhealthy habits. Arterburn and Kuhlman (2018) mention anxiety, drug or alcohol addiction, and eating disorders. The condition also has a significant influence on a person’s overall perception of oneself and the surrounding world. The patient may experience various shifts in interpersonal attitudes, such as being appreciated, or, on the contrary, excluded; they can significantly influence the self-esteem of an individual (Ronningstam, 2017). In the most serious cases, inadequate self-esteem may lead to depression and even suicide. The patients also demonstrate incapability of emotional empathy and are unable to identify the thoughts and feelings of others.
It is necessary to understand that NPD may affect people in the patient’s social environment as well. NPD patients are likely to behave aggressively with others, as they tend to consider other people responsible for their life difficulties (Arterburn & Kuhlman, 2018). In some cases, this attitude may lead to physical or psychological abuse. Therefore, the patient’s intimate, social, and professional environments can also be significantly affected, and it is important to engage a person in treatment as soon as possible.
In general, the treatment of patients with NPD includes a combination of medicating and therapeutic consulting. Since the disorder is often connected with psychological distress, medications are aimed at eliminating the problem on the neurological level. It is necessary to mention that every case of the disorder is individual, and it is important to choose a type of treatment according to the particular characteristics of a patient (Hermann et al., 2018). It is also confirmed that narcissistic patients are difficult to engage in the treatment, and the possibility of dropout is rather high.
The researchers emphasize the importance of psychiatric treatment, namely the collaborative approach in consultations. The challenge of such sessions is to engage the patients’ self-reflecting ability to understand the patterns of their behavior (Ronningstam, 2016). The task of a therapist is to encourage a patient for self-analysis, which can be done through the discussion of certain experiences or the general changes in the patient’s life. Through understanding the self-focused perspective of a patient, the therapist can identify the degree of the disorder and its underlying reasons. It is also important to deal with co-existing disorders, such as alcohol abuse or depression (Arterburn & Kuhlman, 2018). Improvements can be achieved with the help of medications and family support, which is especially emphasized in many studies.
There is not much known about the nature of narcissistic personality disorder and how to identify and treat this condition. Narcissism is one of the cases that draw attention from psychologists and other medical specialists. People with this condition have an abnormal perception of themselves; their feelings do not correspond to their behavior, and the inadequate attitude to others harms their personal life and relationships. The treatment includes both medication use aimed at positive changes at the neurological level, and psychotherapeutic sessions focused on understanding the degree of the patient’s imperception. Such treatment taken in time can avert the negative consequences of the disorder and stabilize the overall behavioral patterns of an individual.
- Arterburn, S., & Kuhlman, P.A. (2018). Understanding and loving a person with narcissistic personality disorder: Biblical and practical wisdom to build empathy, preserve boundaries, and show compassion. David C Cook.
- Hermann, A.D., Brunell, A.B., & Foster, J.D. (Eds). (2018). Handbook of trait narcissism: Key advances, research methods, and controversies. Springer.
- Ronningstam, E. (2016). Pathological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder: Recent research and clinical implications. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 3, 34-42. doi:10.1007/s40473-016-0060-y
- Ronningstam, E. (2017). Intersect between self-esteem and emotion regulation in narcissistic personality disorder – implications for alliance building and treatment. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 4(1), 1-13. doi:10.1186/s40479-017-0054-8