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Narcissistic Personality Disorder

by Jyotsna Ramani

Narcissistic personality disorder is one among several other types of personality disorder and affects less than 1% of the general population. The term itself was first coined by Heinz Kohut in 1968. It has been scientifically defined as a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

There are five classes of this disorder namely unprincipled narcissist, amorous narcissist, compensatory narcissist, elitist narcissist and fanatic type. A person suffering from NPD can fall into one or more categories. An unprincipled narcissist is one who has antisocial features such as being fraudulent, deceptive and exploitative. An amorous narcissist exhibits histrionic features whereas a compensatory narcissist exhibits negativistic and avoidant features. A fanatic type very often shows paranoid features.

Some researchers have also categorized this disorder into two subcategories namely oblivious and hypervigilant. An oblivious person tends to be grandiose, arrogant and thick-skinned whereas someone who is hypervigilant is easily hurt, oversensitive and ashamed.

The exact cause for this disorder is not known and a variety of factors have been identified by some researchers. These include considerable emotional abuse in the formative years, overindulgence, and excessive admiration particularly during childhood. Mostly this disorder begins in the early part of adulthood and often aggravates with the passage of time. Complications arising of this order include relationship and family problems along with increasing dependence on alcohol or other drug.

Psychotherapy has been observed to have positive effects on persons suffering from the disorder and helps in becoming more compassionate to others. The psychotherapy treatment has two goals: the short term goal is to seek independence from substance abuse and the long term goal being a fundamental change in the person's character. There are no medications for this disorder as such but antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to persons who exhibit severe depression and anxiety.

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