Narcissism is a term that is used to describe those that tend to focus on themselves. They can take self-admiration and boastfulness to an extreme! The word “narcissism” is derived from the Greek mythological figure Narcissus who looked a pool of water, saw his reflection, and fell in love. Not realizing that what he saw was a mere image, he was unable to leave the beauty of his reflection and in an attempt to get closer and closer to what he loved, he died.
Those with teen Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) might be grandiose in his or her thinking, crave the admiration and attention of others, be extremely self-centered, in some way feel privileged and special, expecting favors from others, and possessing erratic emotions. NPD is characterized by an over-inflated sense of self-importance. Teens with NPD can be overly dramatic, exhibit emotional behavior, and are sometimes categorized in a similar way to those with Borderline and Antisocial Personality Disorders.
A personality disorder is considered to be a mental illness in which there are long-lasting unhealthy behaviors, thought patterns, and inner experiences, which seem to hold true across many areas of an adolescent’s life and are not usually well accepted in the culture. These patterns tend to develop early and are typically unchanging or inflexible, bringing about significant distress in life.
Although personality disorders have recently been categorized differently in the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness (DSM), there continues to be certain traits that would distinguish one personality disorder from another. However, the recent publication of the latest DSM, in May of 2013, grouped 10 personality disorders, those listed in the previous edition, together, narrowing them down to six. Of these six, teen Narcissistic Personality Disorder is listed as one of them. Each of the six personality disorders each have their own characterizing traits that distinguish each from the others.
As described above, the defining traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder include:
- Being self-centered and boastful
- Seeking constant attention and admiration
- Considering themselves better than others
- Believing that they are entitled to special treatment
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Reacting to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
- Taking advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
The cause of NPD is not clear. However, some clinicians and mental health professionals believe that biological vulnerabilities, social interactions with early caregivers, and psychological factors play a role in the developing temperament of a child. Some experts believe that NPD may develop when children experience parenting styles that are overly pampering or smothering or when a parent expects of their child to be talented in some way for their own self-esteem. On the other hand, NPD might develop as a result of parental neglect or abuse of their children.
Two forms of treatment are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). CBT essentially aims to change a teen’s behavior by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. This successful form of therapy emphasizes the link between thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and more importantly, it attempts to identify the way that certain thoughts contribute to the unique problems of an adolescent’s life. By changing the thought pattern, both feelings and behavior change, which can result in a healthier life. And perhaps result in changing some of the personality traits that characterize the disorder.
DBT is a form of behavioral therapy that teaches adolescents the skills they need to move closer to their life goals and assists them in integrating those skills into everyday life. The therapy is a compassionate form of treatment method that brings meaning and purpose into a teen’s life. The many dysfunctional symptoms of NPD make it difficult for a teen to function normally in school, home, and work. DBT is meant to address those issues by teaching skills to cope with them and replace the self-defeating, dysfunctional coping mechanisms.
Healing from Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not a possibility for everyone. The extent to which a teen changes is to the degree that he or she participates in treatment and recognizes the problems they face and works to change them. With enough effort, desire, and will, it is possible to make these changes and lead a healthier life.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder. WebMD. Mental Health Center. Retrieved on May 21, 2014 from: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/narcissistic-personality-disorder
By Robert Hunt
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