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The word Narcissism comes from a Greek myth, where an attractive man named Narcissus looked at his reflection in a pool of water—and fell in love with it.

You may know somebody like Narcissus. He thinks the world of himself and all of the great things he accomplishes in life. You can’t miss hearing about it because this person will let you know how wonderful they are in nearly every conversation you have with them. You may have a coworker who does just about everything better than the rest of the staff. Maybe your relative knows more than anybody, and she has to give her two cents in every conversation. Maybe you have a friend who makes all conversations—no matter what the topic is—about herself. The point is, you’ve likely encountered a narcissist in your life.

While it’s normal to brag or be selfish every now and then, people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have an inflated sense of their importance, an extreme need for admiration, and a lack of compassion for others. In addition, individuals with NPD don’t value other people’s feelings and ignore their needs. What lies beneath this ultra-confidence is a person who has a fragile self-esteem and is sensitive to even the smallest criticism. People with the disorder may have problems at work, school, and in relationships. They are disappointed when they don’t get special favors or the admiration, they think they should get. Other people really don’t like being around them, and their relationships are unfulfilling.

Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

When a person has NPD, they may find that other people are often upset with them. It is difficult for them to keep relationships, and they often put themselves first. These are only a few traits of a narcissist. The following are more signs of a person with the disorder.

  • Narcissists are likable and make wonderful first impressions. They’re personable and are usually fabulous in job interviews. However, that’s at first glance, and over a period of time people find that the positive person they thought they knew is actually very negative.
  • Some narcissists are quiet, while others are louder. That said, narcissists are not always either one or the other—grandiose or shy—these are the extreme levels.
  • Many times, narcissists are in leadership roles. It isn’t because they are good leaders, but because they want to be in the position.
  • A conversation can be about your plans for a luxurious vacation or a piece of jewelry you just received, but somehow the conversation becomes all about the narcissist.
  • Narcissists like to name-drop in order to make themselves seem more important.
  • Narcissists like to tell stories about themselves, and it’s not uncommon to hear the same one again and again. The story is usually about something wonderful he did. However, if the story is about something negative, it is never caused by the narcissist.
  • The narcissist likes to buy nice things—clothes, jewelry and fancy cars—because it is their way of showing how important they are or the position of prestige they are in.
  • Narcissists take great care in how they present themselves and set a high value on looking physically attractive, such as making sure their hair is always neatly styled and nails are perfectly polished.
  • They love to have lots of friends on Facebook, and narcissists make sure to have only their most attractive pictures posted.
  • People who are narcissistic are very sensitive to criticism.
  • They blame everyone else for their mistakes and have dozens of excuses.
  • Many narcissists destroy working relationships and go from one job to another. They also often commit infidelity in their relationships and move on to new ones.
  • When things don’t go their way or they don’t get the recognition they think they deserve, the narcissist may get angry. They believe people are against them and misunderstand them.
  • The narcissist exaggerates his talents and achievements.
  • When it comes to taking other people’s feelings seriously, the narcissist has a hard time.

Causes and Risk Factors for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A rare disorder found in only 1% of the population, NPD affects more males than females and often begins in early adulthood. The cause of NPD isn’t known, but researchers think that extreme parenting behaviors—neglect or excessively indulging the child—may be at least partly the cause. The following are some of the causes of NPD:

  • Little affection or praise toward the child from his parents.
  • Emotional abuse or extreme neglect as a child.
  • Parents ridiculing or scorning the fears the child expressed.
  • Parents were unreliable in their care of the child.
  • A hypersensitive temperament at birth.
  • Parents, family and friends overly praised the child.
  • Learned manipulative behavior from his parents.
  • Constant praise for exceptional looks or talents.
  • Extreme approval for good behavior, and extreme criticism for bad behavior in childhood.
  • Genetics may also play a role in the development of NPD.

Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Talk therapy is an effective treatment for NPD. With the help of a therapist, the individual with NPD can learn to relate better with other people in order to enjoy closer and more meaningful relationships. The therapist will work with the individual to identify the cause of his emotions and why he feels the necessity to compete with and distrust others. In addition, a therapist will work with the person to be able to find out his true competencies and talents in order to better receive criticism or deal with failure. He will learn to understand the issues that cause distress to his self-esteem and strategize ways to deal with them.

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