Personality disorders that are mental illnesses – 1: Narcissism

The way an individual behaves, communicates and conducts life is known as his/her personality. Personality traits should fit the bill set by the social norms. However, many a times people are observed to behave abnormally and conduct activities that are not only upsetting but also invite troubles. Such people are commonly said to be suffering from personality disorder.

Personality disorders are a section of mental conditions that are characterized by disturbing behavior patterns, cognition and inner experience displayed in public as well as personal environment. These patterns can be seen developing in the early stages of life. Such people often find it distressing to change their habits and traits.

The recently published DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) categorizes personality disorder similar to any other mental disorder. Besides, personality disorders are officially listed in the mental and behavioral disorders section of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), published by the World Health Organization (WHO). The series “Personality disorders that are mental illnesses” talks about few common personality disorders that have been diagnosed as mental illnesses suffered by people.

Defining narcissism

Have you observed an individual looking in the mirror for as many times as he/she could, always self-praising and talking about himself/herself? They are very casually termed as narcissists — self-obsessed persons. Narcissism is a serious mental disorder. People suffering from the condition experience inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others.

Appearing to be a harmless condition, narcissism can lead to serious problems in various aspects of life such as relationships, work or financial affairs. For people afflicted with the condition, not getting special attention or favors can be disappointing as it goes against their belief that they deserve the favors.

Symptoms of narcissism

People suffering from narcissism are often seen to be boastful and pretentious. They easily get offended and angry of not treated in a special manner and given extra attention. While all these symptoms can be at the surface, experts suggest that these people are very insecure and vulnerable from inside. Hence, they are very bad at handling criticism, up to the extent that they can also slip into depression or think of attempting suicide. These people often experience unpleasant feelings of shame and humiliation without any reason and tend to demand constant admiration or belittle other people whom they perceive to be inferior.

Causes of narcissism

Despite categorized as a mental disorder, studies have not been able to identify the exact cause of the condition. Experts researching on the subject have linked the development of the mental condition with mismatched parent-child relationships — either excessive pampering or excessive criticism — genetics or psychobiology (the connection between the brain and behavior).

The prevalence rate of narcissism is rare. Many times, children and teenagers are wrongly presumed to be suffering from the condition due to typicality of their age. According to experts, parenting styles that overemphasize the child’s specialness and criticize fears and failures increase the risk of developing the condition in children.

Treating the condition

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is the first line of treatment to cure narcissism. A therapist initiates a conversation with the patient to identify the weak points and enables him/her to establish better relationship with others and understand his/her own emotions and feelings.

Everybody is conscious about themselves and enjoys attention and admiration. It is important to note that there is a fine line between personality disorder and lifestyle. Looking in the mirror at frequent intervals may not be due to narcissism. Therefore, it is advisable to seek medical intervention to confirm the existence of the condition.

If you or a loved one is suffering from any kind of personality disorders or other mental disorder, you can seek help from the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to know about mental health and mental disorders. You can call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with our representatives, who can guide you to one of the best mental health centers and mental health facilities in your vicinity.