What Narcissist Means | Narssisitic Personality Disorder Causes and Treatments

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There is a very high possibility that a person could have encountered at least one Narcissist in their life.

Narcissists can be anyone among your friends, family, life partner, or any stranger/acquaintance you meet.

This article helps you to identify a narcissist and briefs about who narcissists are, how they become one, NPD disorder, and therapy involved to overcome NPD.

I have suggested few self-help tips a narcissist can follow to overcome their personality disorder.

Let’s dive in. 


Who are Narcissist?

Narcissists are people who have a long term pattern of grandiosity, arrogance, superficial behavior, entitlement, lack of empathy, inability to tolerate frustration or disappointment, very dishonest and manipulative.

In other words, we can define narcissists as people who bury their true selves in response to early injuries and replace it with compensatory false selves. Studies show that there are possibilities that a person can obtain narcissist personality due to genetical and psychological factors.

What does narcissism mean?

It is a condition where people are highly self-centered, manipulative and in need of excessive attention.  Even though they seem to wear confidence as a mask, they have a weak self-esteem and are vulnerable to the slightest criticism.  

What is the difference between Narcissist and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

I have often seen people getting confused between narcissists and NPD. Both have similarities but are different.

Disorder is a condition in which a person experiences impairment in physical or mental health. So when a person suffers impairment due to his/her narcissistic personality, it is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).  

Narcissistic Personality / Narcissism:

This is when the person has a Narcissistic Behavior but does not face any problems in life because of their behavior.

You might observe such people getting promotions, being attractive to women and sometimes financially independent.

They believe that there is nothing wrong with their behavior and that no treatment or therapy is required.

The way of being a Narcissist works for them and so they don’t feel bad about hurting others around them and killing them emotionally.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD):

This is when a person’s life is getting deteriorated due to his/her narcissistic personality.

They start experiencing impairment in their lifestyle, sadness, insomnia and understand the need to seek help to overcome their flaws.

They start to face problems in work and personal life. Few people accept they have NPD and begin to take action on their behavior, whereas others blame everyone around them.

“All people with NPD are Narcissistic, but not all Narcissistic people have NPD.”

It is difficult to say if a Narcissist is suffering from an NPD unless they feel free to talk about what is happening within them.

Why do people turns into a Narcissists?

There are no evidences to confirm what turns a person into a Narcissist and it is very complex to find the root cause.

But studies show that there are factors that can turn a person into a narcissist such as childhood experiences, psychological factors and genetic reasons. 

The below chart represents various reasons which can turn someone into a narcissist.

NPD Causes

Types of Narcissist:

According to Dr.Ramani Durvasula, we can classify Narcissist depending on their behavior.

If you have a friend or a family member with below characteristics, you can analyze and identify the category they can fall into from their narcissist behavior and it will help you to understand them.

  1. Toxic Narcissist/ Malignant Narcissist: – They are over manipulative and have exploitive behavior. These types of Narcissists are arrogant and try to manipulate others by force or by pressurizing them to do something so they can feel superior.
  1. Grandiose Narcissist: – They brag a lot about themselves and are an attention seeker. You might come across people like this often.
  1. Covert/vulnerable Narcissist: – They are hypersensitive, cannot take criticism, have self-sympathy and blame the world for everthing. They have low self-esteem and they feel others don’t care much about them. Even though people feel like helping them by hearing their sad and sensitive story, they will still be ungrateful to others.
  2. Communal Narcissist: – They focus more on the society for a social image but show their real narcissistic traits to their family and friends. Everything they do is only for validation from others, but deep inside, they lack empathy.
  1. Benign Narcissist: – They tend to be mean and annoying to others but not much manipulative. They pass negative comments on other people’s life and belongings to show their superiority in knowledge and taste.

Even though there are different ways in how they express their Narcissistic traits, they all have the same underlying patter where they lack empathy, be manipulative and an attention seeker.

They validate themself based on how others view them and go to extreme levels to seek attention and be kind only for validation. They always have a Narcissistic personality inside but they don’t seem like it on the outside.

Narcissistic Relationships:

Narcissists are so charming and attractive which makes it hard to spot one in the beginning.

But as days goes by when their true character come to light, you become completely puzzled about their behavior and get highly uncomfortable with them.

Check out this article where I have explained and given clear cut ideas on how to identify if your partner is a Narcissist and what to do next: Are you dating or in a relationship with a Narcissist : Everything you need to know.

 The blog covers all the information required for a person in a relationship with a Narcissist.

  • Signs you are dating or in a relationship with a Narcissist 
  • How to Handle a Narcissist relationship?
  • How to break up with a narcissist?
  • What will happen after you break up with your Narcissist Partner?

Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

NPD therapy is a complex process as there is a need to find the cause that triggered the character change in that person. Therapy can help a narcissist to boost his/her self-esteem and overcome their flaws.

There is no medication involved to treat NPD but sometimes it is used to treat if that person has any co-existing disorder.

Before starting therapy, a narcissist is examined about the challenges they face in each of the following criteria.

Here is a quiz to find out if a person has Narcissistic traits: Quiz 

  1. NPD causing Impairment in self: 

Understanding on what level their Narcissist traits act as a barrier to accomplish their goals and hinders their way of living.

Analyzing if their extreme self-centered nature causes hesitation to get into a process that destroys their desire to accomplish a goal.

Check on what level the nature of being validated by the opinion of others obstructs their normal life.

  1. NPD causing Impairment in interpersonal function:

Observe if they show involvement or offer help when other people are going through difficulty. How much self-centered thoughts they have and get involved only if they can benefit from the situation in the future.

Analyze if they have issues being in intimate relationships due to their insecurities and fear of becoming vulnerable.

  1. If they possess strong pathological personal attributes:

They are observed and analyzed to know if they display strong narcissistic behavior such as grandiosity, entitlement, and lack of empathy.

Understanding their personal reason that maps to their current mentality is a serious work. Therapy is done based on inferences made from the observations. 

  1. Examined to find the existence of any co-related disorders:

A Narcissist is well examined to check any pattern of the co-existing disorder as it becomes complicated to treat NPD.

If found any, they are cured using therapy and medication before starting NPD therapy.

Therapy for NPD:

Once the Narcissist is examined clearly, the therapist approaches with caution to not trigger or make the patient insecure about his flaws. 

The therapist offers individual, group, and family programs to help a person overcome NPD.

  • Cognitive behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help a Narcissist replace his grandiose and entitled thoughts with more positive and realistic ideas.
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) helps the therapist understand and identify the incidents in the patient’s childhood which made them develop Narcissistic traits. Depending on that, they give therapy to overcome NPD.
  • Family Therapy: Involving family members in therapy helps patients to recover better also makes them understand the magnitude of the impact they have caused in their loved one’s life. 
  • Metallization-based therapy (MBT) a patient with NPD is asked to project their thoughts and then mention their views on other people’s ideas on the same scenario. So that therapists can find a connection between their mental states and proceed therapy accordingly.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is similar to CBT, concentrating on Mindfulness, emotions, distress tolerance and relationship skills. This therapy is best suited to help a patient realize his thinking pattern and his desire for excessive attention. 
  • Metacognitive interpersonal therapy (MIT) has two stages: stage setting and change promoting: 
  1. Stage setting: In this stage, a therapist tries to dig deeper and understand a person’s interpersonal relation skills by examining his memories. This stage helps them to realize their feelings and emotions.
  2. Change Promoting: This stage involves making the patient realize the situations can be understood and inferred differently when seen from another angle and it need not always reflect their own ideology.

Supportive psychotherapy:  This therapy focus on making a patient attain his highest functionality level which includes imparting social skills and lessons on how to manage destructive thoughts. 

Final thoughts:

It is natural for a Narcissist to deny treatment and think there is nothing wrong with them until their NPD kicks in and causes serious harm to their lifestyle.

I believe that everyone can change but the duration of change varies from person to person. A same event cannot spark compassion in everyone. 

In the case of narcissists, most of them never want to change or get into a situation that can help them to be better, which the main reason why most of the narcissistic relationships fail.

Below are some of my ideas that a Narcissist can try to revamp themselves. 

  • Acceptance :

The main key factor to be considered is the ability to accept who they are.

Only if they accept themself, they will be able to create a space for improvement. 

  • Start to develop Empathy

It isn’t easy at the beginning, as they never had any concerns or regards for fellow humans.

When narcissists force themselves to help others the sense of compassion can grow. 

  • Less of bragging and more of listening : 

We need someone who can listen to what we have to say, the same goes for others as well.

Be a listener before you say something. Only say stuff when asked about it. 

  • Reach out for help : 

It’s always better to reach out to a therapist and get their guidance to fight NPD.

Therapists can guide you on where to start and things you should keep in check.

  • Work on your relationship : 

Once identified that their attitude is causing fights and disagreements in their relationship, it is crucial to work on that immediately.

People are fortunate to have someone holding on to them even in a difficult time.

But in some cases where a Narcissistic person has no will to change and involves in domestic violence, it is better to end a relationship and work on overcoming NPD.

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