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What is narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissism describes personality traits, such as vanity and self-admiration. Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition with traits that may include an excessive need for attention, an inflated sense of self-importance, and a lack of empathy.

Someone who is narcissistic may be excessively concerned with their appearance or have little time for focusing on others.

However, this is not necessarily a sign that someone has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Anyone can behave in a self-centered way at various points in their lives.

People with NPD find it difficult not to focus on themselves and may not recognize that they do this. NPD is a long-term condition that significantly affects a person’s relationships and emotional functioning.

In this article, we look at what NPD is, the signs of NPD, and how it affects relationships.

We also discuss whether narcissistic people can change and how they may go about doing this.

A person with narcissistic personality disorder may have an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), NPD is a personality disorder involving “a pattern of need for admiration and lack of empathy for others.”

People with NPD may have a grandiose sense of self-importance and a sense of entitlement. They often lack empathy and may have little interest in developing intimate relationships with others.

While someone with NPD may appear overconfident, they often have low self-esteem. Depending on how severe their disorder is, they may react badly when a person or event challenges their sense of superiority.

An older 2008 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry estimates that 6.2%Trusted Source of people experience NPD at some point in their lives. Rates are higher among males (7.7%) than females (4.8%).

The study also reports that NPD is significantly more prevalent among:

black adults
Hispanic females
younger adults
those separated, divorced, or widowed
adults who never marry

Signs of narcissistic personality disorder
The signs of NPD are wide-ranging and present differently, depending on the severity of individual cases.

People with NPD may be:

  • self-admiring or self-loathing
  • extroverted or socially isolated
  • industry leaders or unemployed
  • model citizens or people involved in antisocial activities

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