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What Leads To Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) & Can it be Cured?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition whereby people have an overblown sense of their own importance, and need excessive attention as well as admiration. Adding to that, individuals with Narcissistic personality disorder lack empathy for others and have troubled relationships with other people. Despite all the negative traits exhibited by Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD, deep down they have a frail self-esteem that’s vulnerable to criticism. People with narcissistic disorder have troubles in various areas of their lives including school, work and financial affairs. Needless say, they may lead an unhappy life full of disappointments, especially, if they aren’t favored or admired enough, as they think they deserve.[1]

What Leads To Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

Biologic, psychological, social, and environmental factors can all lead to an individual developing a narcissistic personality disorder. Regardless, there is no known defined cause of Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD. As per environmental factors, it is believed that children brought up by parents who have very high expectations, are over-pampering, neglectful, insensitive, or even abusive are at a higher risk of having Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD. Also, focusing intently on a child’s particular talent or physical can push him/her into developing Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD.

A child can easily adopt any manipulative behaviors they observe in their households while growing up, and those behaviors may later on affect their personalities. On top of that, if a child learns that vulnerability is unacceptable, it may affect their ability to coincide with other people’s feelings and needs.

Development of narcissistic personality disorder has also been associated with biological factors such as genetic predispositions and biochemical factors. In other words, Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD can be caused by abnormalities in their genetic composition that affects the connection between their brain and behavior.[2] [3]

Understanding People With Narcissistic Personality Disorder Better

It is not difficult to discern individuals with narcissistic personality disorder. This is highly due to their obvious characteristic traits that sets them apart from others. As earlier mentioned, people with Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD have a need for attention, admiration, and sense of being grandeur. On the other hand, they lack empathy for others and often experience troubles in relationships with others. This personality disorder could have been fueled by one’s childhood experiences and the kind of environment they were raised in. Characteristics of Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD usually start in early adulthood and can easily be identified at various situations of their lives including relationships and works.

People with Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD can be described as manipulative, self-centered, arrogant and demanding. This is basically due to how they carry themselves and interact with others. Additionally, they like to associate themselves with people they believe are unique or gifted, in an attempt to enhance their self-esteem. In cases where they are criticized, experience defeat, or not acclaimed as they’d wish to be, they usually react with disdain or anger. This can be because they have difficulties tolerating criticism, defeat and handling not being seen as grandeur in other’s eyes.[4]

Identifying A Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The symptoms that an individuals with Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD exhibit helps in identifying the condition much easier. They may include;

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • A sense of entitlement and need of constant, excessive admiration
  • Expectations of being recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Having fantasies about success, power, brilliance and even beauty and the perfect mate
  • The sense of superiority and self-importance brings about a belief that they should only associate with equally special people
  • Look down on individuals they perceive as inferior and monopolize conversations with them
  • Responding to criticism with shame, anger, and humiliation
  • Expect special favors and total compliance with their own expectations
  • Inability or unwillingness to recognize needs of other as well as their feelings
  • They are envious of others and believe others are envious of them
  • Behave arrogantly and haughty and come off as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • They exploit others so as to get what they want or achieve a particular goal
  • An exaggeration of achievements and talents
  • Crave and yearn only for the best
  • Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships[1] [2] [4]

Can Narcissistic Personality Disorder Be Cured?

Psychotherapy, which involves a combination of individual, group and family therapies, is the basic treatment for individuals with Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD. The therapies are meant to help one understand their actions, why they’re not right, the effect they have on others and above all, how they can change their ways. According to researchers, empathy can be learned, meaning that it can be possible for someone with Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD to understand the importance of considering the perspectives and emotions of others. Additionally, with therapy, people with NPD can learn to accept the responsibilities of their actions, develop realistic goals, get a better sense of proportion, as well as create and maintain healthy relationships.[5]

Psychotherapy, which is basically talk therapy, can be a long, slow process. This is because it is mainly focused on changing one’s personality traits, which may take many years to get through to. Personality traits are molded over time and during that time, they become steady and permanent. So, before one reaches a point of break-through, it may be a while. Other ways of improving narcissistic personality disorder include; tolerating criticism and failures, besides, understanding and regulating one’s feelings. Also, understanding and accepting the impacts of issues related to one’s self-esteem, as well as, foregoing your desires for unattainable goals and embracing the ideal conditions on what you can accomplish.

Some individuals with narcissistic personality disorder may also be living with anxiety and depression. Therefore, antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds should be given to help manage the conditions. In addition to that, people with NPD are likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. So, treatment for any addiction problems should also be considered so as to better manage the disorder. At first, you may be against treatment, but it is crucial to improve your condition. Therefore, you should be willing to keep an open mind on treatment, stick to the treatment plan chosen, and stay focused on the goal of getting better. You should be willing to get better and take any necessary steps to get there including keeping yourself motivated.[6] [7]

Can People With Narcissistic Personality Disorder Change?

If you are living with narcissistic personality disorder or you are a loved one to someone living with narcissistic personality disorder and wondering whether they will ever change, there is good news. Yes, people with narcissistic personality disorder can change, and for the better. They may not be cured or be able to change their narcissism, but they can totally change their behaviors. The first step to doing that is accepting that they have a problem.

For most people with NPD, they are usually unwilling or unable to change, which is often driven by a selfish, internal motivation. Approaching a person with a narcissistic personality and telling them how much they are wrong or using logic on them will not help in changing their ways. To effectively be able help a narcissistic person, you had had to help them overcome the patterns and impulses, which have become part of who they are. Once a person with narcissistic personality disorder has made the choice to change, the next step is all about trying to maintain a balance between internal and external motivations which trigger reactions and celebrating any small victories in the right measure.[8]


Living with someone with narcissistic personality disorder can be difficult, since they can be tough to handle. Needless to say, the kind of emotional and physical impact they have on others can be severe, even for colleagues. All hope is not lost though for individuals with narcissistic personality disorder. Psychotherapy can be of tremendous help in ensuring that individuals understand the causes of their behavior and how to handle them and relate with others more positively. It may not cure narcissistic personality disorder, but it can definitely help in changing one’s ways and result in more constructive behavior.[2] A narcissistic personality cannot be cured. However, there are steps which can be taken to improve one’s condition by getting in touch with their actions and consequences. Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is the best approach to managing narcissistic personality disorder, and it may take years for someone to fully recover from the condition. It is important, nevertheless, that an individual with NPD understands that the need for the change of their behavior comes from understanding what’s at stake if they don’t change and what they stand to gain if they do choose to change.[8]


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 15, 2019

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