Narcissistic Personality Disorder Causes, Statistics, Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder that is characterized by an inflated sense of self coupled with an intense need for admiration and respect. Individuals who suffer with narcissistic personality disorder typically feel as though they are superior to others, with little or no regard for how other people may feel or think. Narcissistic personality disorder is one of the many types of personality disorders, which are conditions in which men, women, adolescents, or children have traits that cause them to behave in socially distressing manners. Several other disorders may commonly occur with narcissistic personality disorder, including eating disorders, mood disorders, substance-related disorders, and some personality disorders (histrionic, borderline, antisocial, and paranoid).

Individuals suffering with narcissistic personality disorder will often exhibit traits of arrogance, dominance, superiority, and the desire to seek power. However, most of these individuals typically struggle with low self-esteem and often attempt to compensate for this fragility by degrading others. These behaviors can help an individual with narcissistic personality disorder build their own self worth, and this characteristic is often seen as a sadistic tendency. Narcissistic personality disorder results in severe social, emotional, and behavioral implications, as a person with these character traits will often isolate themselves and have limited ability to maintain relationships or function in work or school. If you or a loved one has been suffering with narcissistic personality disorder, you may understand directly the negative implications of this mental health issue. With the assistance of a professional treatment team, you or your loved one can address narcissistic personality disorder and begin a journey of healing and wellness.

Statistics on Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Statistics about narcissistic personality disorder are helpful as they can provide greater comprehension about this state in addition to creating improved outcomes for those who are suffering with this mental health condition. The following are important statistics about narcissistic personality disorder that may be helpful in forming better understanding:

  • Life prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder is estimated at 1% in the general population and 2-16% in clinical populations [1].
  • In 2009, Twenge and Campbell conducted studies suggesting that the incidence of NPD had more than doubled in the US in the prior 10 years, and that 1 in 16 of the population have experienced NPD [2].
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that narcissists may be common within the financial sector as they are “able to make quick, bold decisions without any thought for the consequences these might have on other people”. [3].
  • Narcissistic personality disorder can be comorbid with DSM Axis 1 major depressive disorders [4].

Causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

While there is no known cause for narcissistic personality disorder, there are several factors that may be associated with the development of this disease. Possible losses that may cause narcissistic personality disorder include the following:

  • Severe emotional abuse in childhood
  • Unpredictable or negligible neglect by caregivers in childhood
  • Excessive pampering or praise in childhood
  • Excessive criticism for poor behaviors in childhood
  • An oversensitive temperament at birth
  • Genetic abnormalities impacting psychobiology (connection between brain and behavior)

Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

When a man, women, adolescent, or child is struggling with narcissistic personality disorder, they will exhibit certain signs and symptoms that will be indicators of this mental health disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with narcissistic personality disorder, these symptoms may help you become aware of what you are dealing with or lead you to reach out for professional help. Common signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include but are not limited to:

  • Obsession with self
  • Appearing unemotional
  • Setting unrealistic or unattainable goals
  • Easily rejected or hurt
  • Becoming jealous easily
  • Using others to an advantage to reach own goals
  • Reacting to others with shame, anger, or humiliation
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Requiring constant positive reinforcement and attention from others
  • Dramatization of own importance, talents, and achievements
  • Desiring the best of everything
  • Fantasizing about success, power, and attractiveness
  • Having a fragile self-esteem

If you or your loved one has been exhibiting any of these character traits or symptoms as a result of narcissistic personality disorder, consider obtaining help and professional support from a narcissistic personality disorder treatment center, as this resource can help guide you through any issues associated with the development of this disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Effects

Though narcissistic personality disorder may not appear to have many negative implications, this mental health issue can result in many complications if left untreated. As a result of this, consequences may arise that can affect every aspect of your well being, including physically, mentally, and socially. Those who have narcissistic personality may come across as those that are too superior to accept help or treatment. Understanding how narcissistic personality disorder might negatively affect the life of a loved one or you might support your decision to seek treatment for this mental health condition. The following are some of the effects of narcissistic personality disorder:

Physical Effects – Narcissistic personality disorder can impact one’s physical health. These are some physical effects that may be experienced:

  • Suicidal ideations
  • Increased risk of abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Arrogant behavior or attitude

Psychological Effects – Narcissistic personality disorder will have a tremendous impact on your mental health. Some of the psychological effects that may be experienced include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Increased feelings of depression or anxiety
  • Hypersensitivity to insults or criticism
  • Lack of interpersonal skills

Finally, narcissistic personality disorder can have negative consequences on your social life. Social effects of narcissistic personality disorder include:

  • Inability to maintain or initiate relationships
  • Decrease in performance at work or school
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Lack of meaningful relationships due to demeaning attitude towards others

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treatment

Many people who live with narcissistic personality disorder may not necessarily be aware of how this mental health illness is affecting their well-being or their need for help or treatment. Though you can continue to live with narcissistic personality disorder, your abilities and potentials may be severely limited as you deal with the ramifications of this disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder will impact you physically, socially and psychologically as you push others away through demeaning behaviors, damaging your potential to share in a meaningful relationship with others. Though you may feel deep in despair, loneliness, or even secluded from the rest of the world, you can find hope and healing through the process of getting the necessary help and treatment. By seeking the appropriate help and care you need, you can find the resources you need to address your narcissistic personality disorder and heal from any underlying issues that may be influencing this disease. A narcissistic personality disorder treatment center can provide the tools and resources you need to recover and heal from any situation you may have endured.


[1]: Megalomaniacs abound in politics/medicine/finance Business Day 2011/01/07

[2]: Twenge, Jean M. & Campbell, W. Keith The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2009)

[3]: “When narcissism becomes pathological”, Adrian Tempany, Financial Times, 4 September 2010, accessed 23 June 2012.<>


Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 15th, 2013
Published on, Assistance for Addiction