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In today’s society, we hear the term “narcissist” thrown around a lot, usually describing a person who is exhibiting negative and selfish behaviors. However, what does it really mean? Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person experiences a very specific view of themselves and their relationships with others. As with other personality disorders, this condition can negatively impact a variety of areas in a person’s life.
NPD is characterized by consistent thoughts and behaviors that reflect an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Individuals with NPD tend to have a self-centered worldview and have trouble empathizing with others. Likewise, they also commonly crave admiration and believe they deserve special treatment.
Negative Effects on Behavior Caused by Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Because a person exhibiting signs of NPD tends to think they are superior to others, it has a negative effect on their interpersonal skills and ability to function in relationships. They might be overly critical of others and not want to spend time with people they don’t see as their equals. This can make it difficult to maintain healthy social connections.
A person with NPD often expects other people to do what they are told without questions. They may experience confusion when people deviate from their expectations. This comes from an egocentric pattern of thinking that leads to an inability, or unwillingness, to understand the needs and feelings of others. Sometimes this lack of empathy can also lead to being manipulative or taking advantage of others to serve their own needs.
Criticism is not something that a person displaying NPD characteristics can handle well. This stems from feelings of insecurity and shame, which they will often hide from others. They are often easily offended and become angry at perceived slights. Adapting to change and managing stressful situations can also be very challenging because they have trouble regulating their emotions.
What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Although the exact cause of NPD is unknown, there are some factors that are known to contribute to its development. There is research to suggest that genetics play a part in the development of NPD. Early childhood experiences are also seen as strong predictors, some of which include:
- Childhood abuse or trauma can lead to narcissistic behaviors
- The overuse of praise or criticism from a parental figure
- Being overindulged as a child
Unreliable parenting can have a big impact on a child and how they develop into adults. It can affect everything from attachment styles to self-esteem. Often, therapy and other treatments are necessary to overcome childhood instability.
Relationships and Narcissistic Personality Disorder
NPD is most often treated with a combination of therapies and medications. Because a person facing the challenges of NPD has such a hard time admitting to themselves that anything is wrong, they rarely seek out treatment. This can be difficult for their friends and loved ones and especially so for significant others. NPD causes the person experiencing it to have a confused sense of self. This can cause a wide range of damaging behaviors that are an attempt to get more attention, more success, or more love.
If you care about someone that is exhibiting symptoms of NPD, there are a few things to keep in mind. As with any mental health issue, education and awareness are key. When you have a good understanding of the behaviors associated with NPD, it can make it easier to recognize them and cope with them.
Learning to recognize narcissistic behaviors can help you deal with them more effectively and may give you a little bit of emotional space from the issues. Understanding how to set clear and firm boundaries is another important skill. You should never allow the other person to direct their angry, abusive, or other extreme behaviors toward you. Communicate your boundaries and be willing to follow through with the consequences of violating them.
Seeking Extra Support
Sometimes in relationships that are unhealthy or abusive, aberrant behaviors can become normalized for the people involved in them. It can be hard to recognize unhealthy behaviors and warning signs.
Communicating with others can be one of the most useful tools you have to stay grounded in reality. Talking with friends or family members can be helpful to process your experiences and emotions. If you are not comfortable discussing your relationship with friends and family, you may want to consider seeking support from a mental health professional.
Often, a skilled therapist can help you understand the dynamics of your relationship. They can help you identify problems and suggest solutions. Helping you determine your boundaries and how to implement them is also something that a therapist can help you with. Most importantly, they can provide mental and emotional support to you if you are struggling.
At Alter Wellness Care, we understand that everyone needs help and support sometimes. Our top priorities are helping our clients learn how to set boundaries for themselves, gain more awareness of their mental health, and achieve their goals. Our compassionate team offers a variety of resources, such as therapy and group activities, that can help you feel better. If you, or a loved one, have been affected negatively by narcissistic personality disorder, we can help. We care about your mental health, safety, and overall wellness. We will work with you to identify your goals and establish a plan to achieve them. Call Alter Wellness Care today at (866) 311-3510 for more information about how we can support you.