Narcissistic Personality Disorder: The Development, Relationships and Treatment

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Introduction

An individual who loves and accepts themselves is one thing, yet one who is in love with their appearance is another, someone of this nature is seen as narcissistic. The word narcissism originates from a Greek mythological figure named, Narcissus. Narcissus was a young, vain, self-absorbed man who fell in love with his reflection in the water. Being unable to turn away from the beauty of his very own reflection, he eventually died by the waterside. (Brummelman, et al., 2015). However, the more extreme form of narcissism is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). A rare uncommon mental condition that affects only 1 percent of the population.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2012) DSM-IV and DSM-5 describe NPD as a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy”. Individuals who are diagnosed with NPD have characteristics that include, taking advantage of others for personal gain, exaggerating achievements, impaired ability to recognize the feelings of others and a sense of entitlement (American Psychiatric Association 2012). Ever wonder where narcissism stems from? This paper will investigate the following topics: 1) parental factors that influence the development of a child (childhood & upbringing); 2) narcissism in adults, relationships & effects on daily life; 3) Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder.

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Childhood

Parental Factors Influence the Development of a Child

Childhood trauma and parental factors may be an underlying cause for an individual to develop narcissistic behaviors that can progressively worsen one’s mentality in adulthood. Kohut (1977) proposed that a child's development of self makes along two fundamental aspects: grandiose exhibitionism and idealization. Empathy is demonstrated by guardians who quickly and positively respond to their child, giving the child an ideal sense of self. Importantly, children first compellingly idolize their parents who they see as their role model which unconsciously influences their behavior. Horton, Bleau, & Drwecki, (2006) findings suggest that “Fruitful development of the two elements of oneself is encouraged by ''optimal frustrations'' of the child by a parent.” “The frustrations are explicit occurrences in which a child is left without parental help or direction and is compelled to depend upon his or her very own resources” (p. 349). Likewise, there are two theories about the origins of narcissism in children demonstrated by Brummelman, et al., (2015)

  1. The social learning theory; a big role in developing grandiose beliefs; i.e. Parents who tend to overvalue, spoil and entitle the child that he or she is better than other children, result in them growing up to be narcissistic.
  2. Psychoanalytic theory; when guardians express little affection, gratefulness, and positive effect toward their child, the child may put themselves on a platform to attempt to get from others the endorsement they did not get from their parents.

Adulthood

Factors Contributing to Narcissistic Behaviors in Adults

The quest rises concerning where the extreme need for admiration of narcissistic personality disorder comes from. One fundamental suspicion is that the adult narcissist was spoiled as an adolescent by parents who offered over the top fulfillment. Having grown up with this establishment of luxury, the individual continues expecting and to demand this kind of fulfillment as an adult. As posed by Cramer (2011) another reason for admiration is “insufficient early gratification” (p. 19) The adult who has encountered not enough satisfaction as a child will be a person who wants over the top admiration from others to repay for the absence of it mentally when a child.

Effects on life: Relationships

Those diagnosed with NPD tend to not have healthy relationships with people in their lives because they do not have the capacity to reciprocate traits such as trust and regard, especially since they lack empathy. Additionally, discoveries have connected narcissism to relational hostility, obsessive gambling, uncontrollable spending habits, and substance abuse (Miller & Campbell, 2010). Individuals who are narcissistic generally take part in risky behaviors, like, poly-substance misuse or unprotected sex without thinking of the consequences that follow their choices. (Dudeck, et al., 2007).

Treatment

Along with other personality disorders, NPD can not be cured but can be treated with psychotherapy. Callaghan, Summers & Weidman (2003) specifies psychotherapy as type of “interpersonal therapy that utilizes essential social ideals to indicate the procedure of clinical change as a component of the therapeutic relationship” (p. 323). It is particularly useful with patients issues that are relational in nature. Since personality disorders are not curable, talk therapies and medication help an individual ease their issues.

Conclusion

In summary, the development of narcissistic personality disorder is rooted in childhood from teaching styles demonstrated by parents. In fact, parents are the foundation and role model to the child that shape the way the mind is framed.

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