Humanistic Approaches to Positive Growth and Self-Acceptance

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

People with narcissistic personality disorder are generally grandiose, need much admiration, and feel no empathy with otherspsych narcissist

  • People with this disorder exaggerate their achievements and talents, and often appear arrogant
  • People with this disorder are seldom interested in the feelings of others
    • Many take advantage of others to achieve their own ends
  • Around 1% of adults display narcissistic personality disorder
    • Up to 75% of these are men
  • This type of behavior is common among normal teenagers and does not usually lead to adult narcissism

How Do Theorists Explain Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Psychodynamic theorists more than others have theorized about this disorder, focusing on cold, rejecting parents

  • Object-relations theorists interpret this grandiose self-presentation as a way for people with this disorder to convince themselves that they are self-sufficient and without need of warm relationships
  • In support of this theory, research has found increased risk for developing the disorder among abused children and those who lost parents through adoption, divorce, or death

Cognitive-behavioral theorists propose that narcissistic personality disorder may develop when people are treated too positively rather than too negatively in early life

  • Those with the disorder have been taught to “overvalue their self-worth”

Finally, many sociocultural theorists see a link between narcissistic personality disorder and “eras of narcissism” in society

Treatments for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  • This disorder is one of the most difficult personality patterns to treat
    • Clients who consult therapists usually do so because of a related disorder, most commonly depression
    • Once in treatment, the individuals may try to manipulate the therapist into supporting their sense of superiority
  • None of the major treatment approaches have had much success

Bernstein, D.A. & Nash, P.W. (2008). Essentials of psychology (4th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Comer, R.J. (2013). Abnormal Psychology (8th ed).  Worth Publishers
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5) American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013
Feldman, R. (2013). Essentials of understanding psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2012), Personality: classic theories and modern research (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
McGraw-Hill.McGraw Hill Higher Education (2013), The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
Sue,Sue, and Sue (2014).  Understanding Abnormal Behavior (10th Ed), Cengage Learning


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