Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder that is predominantly featured by a pattern of abnormal behaviour characterised by:

  • exaggerated feelings of self-importance, 

  • exhibiting features of self-righteousness, 

  • have an excessive need for admiration, 

  • display a lack of empathy.

  • For the most part, their thinking is dominated by how to achieve power or success in their life, and they can be very concerned about their appearance socially and by the way they look. 

  • they often take advantage of the people around them which is why they also have enduring features of control and emotional manipulation over others which on the outset comes across as charming or helpful (as mentioned above) but long term those they manipulate quickly learn about their underlying need to be dominant.  

The behaviour typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of social domains in their life.  Unfortunately, the cause of narcissistic personality is unknown, and it is at times difficult to treat because those with NPD do not necessarily consider themselves having a problem.

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Michelle Barratt is a Fellow of the Clinical College at the Australian Psychological Society.