We all know THAT person. Someone who always has to be the center of attention or continually brags about themselves. You might call that person self-absorbed or narcissistic. But there’s a difference between being self-absorbed and having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). NDP is a mental illness.

People with NPD have an inflated idea of themselves and a need for lots of attention from other people. They also don’t value others’ feelings or ideas and ignore others’ needs. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to percent of people have NPD. This disorder causes people to think, feel, and behave in ways that hurt themselves or others. Signs of personality disorders usually appear in the late teen years and early adulthood.

Someone with narcissistic personality disorder might:

  • Regularly upset other people 
  • Struggle to keep relationships
  • Put themselves first
  • Think they are always right 
  • Crave attention and admiration
  • Exaggerate their talents and achievements
  • Talk about themselves A LOT 
  • Have wide, fast mood swings
  • Have a hard time taking others’ feelings seriously
  • Want to win, whatever it takes

NPD and Relationships

NPD causes problems in many areas of life and in close relationships. These interpersonal issues are often driven by symptoms of NPD, including:

  • Easily hurt
  • Overreacts
  • Can’t take criticism
  • Makes excuses for own flaws or failings
  • Refuses to take responsibility
  • Attempts to manipulate others
  • Over competitive
  • Only associates with people deemed to be on “their level”
  • Reacts with rage
  • Shames others
  • Emotionally neglectful
  • Doesn’t listen
  • Interrupts often

Diagnosing NPD

There are no lab tests to confirm a mental disorder. Many therapists use the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a list of 40 questions that measures things such as how much attention and power someone desires.

Personality disorders are long-standing, ingrained, dysfunctional patterns of thinking, behaving and relating to other people. People with NPD often deny having a mental health condition, and may be less likely to seek evaluation or treatment.

A mental health professional can determine the key symptoms of NPD. Treatment focuses on changing long-term patterns of thinking, feeling, behaving and interacting with others.

Living With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

If you have NPD, it may be tempting not to stick with treatment. Here are tips to stick with treatment:

  • Keep an open mind
  • Focus on your goals and the rewards of treatment
  • Keep your appointments and follow your doctor’s advice
  • Get help for any addictions or other mental health problems

If you are living with or in a close relationship with a person with NPD, here are tips to taking care of yourself:

  • Set boundaries
  • Don’t get caught up in their way of viewing you
  • Be prepared for the relationship to change
  • Don’t take it personally
  • Let go of any need for approval from the person with NPD
  • Look for other people who will support you
  • Look for other sources of meaning and fulfillment in your life