Narcissistic personality disorder is a relatively newly defined disorder that first appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980. The diagnostic criteria were revised in 1987 and 1994.
Dr. William Samek, a clinical and forensic psychologist in Miami, explains the disorder:
1. All about me: It's a character disorder in which a person tends to: have an inflated sense of self-importance; be preoccupied with thoughts of his or her great success, power, brilliance, or beauty; believe that he or she is special, unique or better than everyone else; desire, expect, or demand excessive admiration from others; have a sense of entitlement; exploit and take advantage of others; lack empathy and emotional connection to others; and be arrogant and act superior.
2. Deep down: People with narcissistic personalities, in spite of their thoughts and behaviors, unconsciously feel inferior and inadequate.
3. Successful treatment: Many experts believe narcissistic people can never be successfully treated. In fact they can be successfully treated. Treatment usually needs to be compelled, is long term (several years), and often requires both a mental health professional with special expertise in treating narcissistic personalities and another person or institution that has the power to require that the narcissistic person completes treatment. Treatment is usually best done in group therapy with other individuals who have narcissistic personality problems.
4. Dysfunctional childhood: Narcissistic personality disorders are often caused by poor parenting and a dysfunctional childhood. The parents of a narcissist either overly spoiled and pampered the child or they were overly harsh and abusive. Either extreme may cause a child to develop a narcissistic personality.
5. Mild to severe: Narcissistic personality disorder comes in all levels of intensity, from very mild to very severe. Mild forms are attracted to and may become leaders in industry and government.