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Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)

2-minute read

Personality disorders are a group of conditions that affect people’s thoughts, behaviours and emotions in long-term negative patterns that occur in all areas of life.

People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) may appear arrogant, with an inflated self-image and disregard for the feelings of others. This disorder can cause socially destructive behaviours that damage relationships.

NPD is part of the cluster of personality disorders with symptoms of intense and unstable emotions and a distorted self-image. It’s a rare disorder, affecting more men than women and is usually evident by early adulthood.

The nature of NPD symptoms means it’s hard for people who suffer from the disorder to realise they have a problem. When you believe you’re better than everyone else, why would you think there’s anything wrong? It is often the family or loved ones who are most aware of this problem and who also suffer the consequences.

However, if left untreated, NPD can affect a person’s work, social and family life. The state of someone’s relationships can be the biggest indicator. Psychotherapy can help people with NPD to understand themselves better, and relate to others more positively. With support and treatment, life can become more enjoyable for people with NPD and their loved ones.

Where to get help

If you need help, talking to your doctor is a good place to start. If you’d like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:

  • SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) – call 1800 18 7263.
  • beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) – online help.
  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467.

Last reviewed: December 2016

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