What is narcissistic personality disorder?
Narcissistic personality disorder is a complex problem in which the individual struggles to maintain his or her self-esteem without going to extreme measures to preserve it, or becoming highly devastated when she or he is emotionally threatened.
Most people understand that the narcissistic personality often presents as someone who feels special or requires admiration or attention. Such persons can become entitled and can react with anger when their needs are not recognized. The narcissistic personality struggles with seeing the perspectives of others, often devaluing the wants or needs of someone else and enhancing or prioritizing their own needs above all others.
However, the narcissistic personality can also become depressed and overwhelmed when they are not able to feel satisifed with their work or relationships. Work or relatoinship failures may lead to strong depresive or negative reations, which brings them into the care of mental health professionals. They take great measures to avoid feeling shame, which is often at the core of their identity. They also may engage in self-defeating actions, believing that they are immune from the deleterious effects of such actions. When this happens, they find themselves headed on a path of self-destruction, all the while believing that they are functioning well.
As a result, the narcissistic personality has a sense of self that is frequently grandiose, but at times might appear more vulnerable or inadequate. Such persons tend to engage in idealizing the self and devaluing others, though that pattern might reverse itself (i.e., others are idealized) when the individual is feeling envious. At their most extreme, narcissistic individuals may feel highly toxic to be around. At more benign levels, they may seem more annoying, generating a feeling in others that one's own efforts or ideas are not as good or valid as the more narcissistic person.
How To Treat Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Successful treatment options are available. I adopt an approach based upon transference-focused psychotheapy, which is a twice-a-week treatment that seeks at getting at core understandings of self and others, along with the underlying motivating factors in relationships. I work to establish a trusting and understanding relationship with patients, particularly since many who are called narcissistic have felt very misunderstood. Treatment requires time and effort, but I have found many individuals to improve when they make a commitment to their well-being.
Similarly, I have worked with many individuals who have someone with strong narcissistic tendencies in their lives. Knowing how to interact and engage with such people can be challenging, and my treatment focuses upon each person's individual reaction to the problematic person. I find that strong self-awareness, even when dealing with someone very difficult, can be a good first step in learning how to relate to those who are difficult.
Contact Steven K. Huprich, PhD
If you or someone you care about may have narcissistic features, please contact my office today. We will help establish a customized treatment program that is tailored explicitly to your needs.