The 10 Personality Disorders: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

mental health

This post is intended to list characteristics of personality disorders, causes & treatments.

*These are characteristics often observed in a personality disorder though every feature may not apply to each specific personality disorder. Appreciate what is of value to you in this post and leave the rest.

Individuals with a personality disorder often experience chronic, pervasive difficulty with relationships, impulse control, & emotions. The features may be present in childhood, often become prominent in teen years, but often a diagnosis is withheld until adulthood.

Typically, a personality disorder is in sync with one’s ego. Due to this the person may lack self-awareness and externalize the problems associated with their personality disorder. Personality disorders can co-occur.

In order for a diagnosis a person must exhibit difficulty in at least one of the four, (among other criteria specific to the personality disorder);

  • Distorted thinking
  • Problematic emotional responses
  • Over or under regulated impulse control
  • Interpersonal difficulties

Data supports that any person with a personality disorder is more likely to have a substance use disorder. Though, sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate which is causing the other. Personality disorders should be diagnosed with caution.

Personality disorders are grouped into clusters based on common similarities;

Cluster A: Social withdrawal or awkwardness driven by distorted thinking

Cluster B: Dramatic, impulsive and emotional thinking/behavior

Cluster C: Driven by fear

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

[Cluster B]

Somewhat of a controversial diagnosis

A ‘narcissist’ is a term we hear A LOT. People will place this disorder on others or even self-diagnose themselves. It’s commonly accepted that there are subsets of this personality disorder that would include the more commonly socially accepted version of a narcissist, (though sub sets are not recognized in the DSM-5).

Someone who is often referred to as ‘narcissistic’ has traits of the personality disorder and may even obtain the diagnosis. Commonly, the traits are behavioral and created by environmental factors such as trauma, abuse, neglect, etc.

A person who does depict narcissistic traits or has narcissistic tendencies may not necessarily have a narcissistic personality disorder, though some recognize this personality disorder to be on a ‘spectrum’. This would imply that a ‘narcissist’ would fall on the less severe end of the spectrum.

Here Are Helpful Strategies to Deal With a Narcissist

You can take what is of use to you regarding this personality disorder & leave the rest.

Malignant narcissism is the most severe end of the spectrum of ‘narcissistic personality disorder’.  As a mental health professional, I’ve only met a handful of people that had a malignant narcissistic personality disorder. 

This is not to imply that someone society commonly refers to as a ‘narcissist’ is any more or less than, in any way & there is no clear line to differentiate the two, so feel free to share your perspective or experience on this disorder..

Remarkably Erich Fromm, who first coined the term malignant narcissism, called people with this type “the quintessence of evil.”

Though, ANY person with a personality disorder is not inherently bad, there are a combination of factors that come together regarding an person that can, but not always, indicate negative outcomes.

with that being said,

Narcissistic Personality Disorder



  • Inflated sense of importance
  • More prevalent among those born as males
  • Deep need for admiration and attention
  • Troubled relationships
  • Lack of empathy

The term ‘narcissism’ originates from the Greek mythology of Narcissus. He was a young man known for his beauty and rejected all romantic advances. He fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, then fixated on it until his death. Succeeding his death, in his place, grew a flower named Narcissus (daffodils belong to the same genus).


  • Paradoxically may possess a fragile self esteem
  • May find relationships unfulfilling
  • See others as friend or foe
  • May feel empowered by causing others pain
  • Others may not enjoy being around them
  • Require constant attention
  • Preoccupied with fantasies about success or perfection
  • Believe they are superior

“For me to say I wasn’t a genius I’d just be lying to you and to myself.” Kayne West

  • Often retaliate when directly challenged
  • May take advantage of others
  • Behave arrogantly
  • Pretentious
  • Denial, will reject reality
  • Susceptible to suicidal thoughts
  • Often co-occurs with substance use disorder
  • Easily become impatient
  • Feel easily slighted
  • Try to belittle
  • Often depressed and moody
  • Secret feelings of shame and humiliation


Genetics, brain chemistry and environmental factors play a role. Caregivers may have lacked discipline, reinforcing maladaptive behaviors, inconsistent attention/approval from caregivers. Depending on the subset of this personality disorder, the origin can alter.


Therapy > Medication

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT

Support groups | Help to understand how to relate to others, skill building for social and emotional responses

Group therapy | May find solace in others with environmental factors that contributed

Couples counseling | If this is a barrier within relationship, may help partners understand one another

Family therapy | Can support family members, help them become more supportive and more constructive

Medications | Most common are anti-anxiety, antidepressants & mood stabilizers, sometimes low doses of anti-psychotics can be useful in the treatment of narcissistic personality disorder

Antipsychotics | Antipsychotics can help control intense emotional responses in the treatment for narcissistic personality disorder

Mood Stabilizers | Lithium and Tegretol for example can help control abrupt or severe mood shifts


“I feel like I’m too busy writing history to read it.” Kanye West

More on Kanye West

Ironically, Taylor Swift has also been speculated to have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder


If you feeling like doing a deep dive into why, I’ve included a link below to a thorough look at Taylor’s tendencies.

*Spoiler Alert*

It may change your perception of this megastar.

Taylor Swift: A Very Popular Narcissist?

Again, Here Are Helpful Strategies to Deal With a Narcissist

& More Information On Narcissistic Personality Disorder


For the other 9 personality Disorders or other mental health topics visit