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Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)

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Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) can impact all areas of life, since symptoms are present during work and at home. It can be hard for others to tolerate the symptoms of NPD, which can mean the sufferer becomes isolated.

Key symptoms include:

  • inability to listen to others 
  • fantasising about power, beauty and success
  • exaggerating achievements and abilities
  • superiority, specifically towards people perceived as ‘lower’ in status
  • lack of awareness regarding others
  • increased risk of using drugs and alcohol
  • social withdrawal
  • inflated sense of entitlement
  • obsession with class and status
  • exploiting others for personal gain
  • lacking empathy, especially for perceived weaknesses
  • strong desire for control over relationships
  • envy for those perceived as being of a higher status
  • inability to admit wrongdoing
  • distant, practical manner in regards to personal relationships
  • believing that others are envious of them
  • severe anger if orders or directions are not followed by others
  • can ‘write off’ friends permanently over small or imagined issues
  • great pride in the accomplishments of children or family
  • expecting constant praise and recognition for achievements
  • unrealistic goal setting
  • difficulty maintaining healthy relationships
  • feeling hurt and rejected easily.

People with NPD may have feelings of deep insecurity beneath an arrogant exterior. With effective treatment, it is possible for people to learn to change their behaviours and have more positive relationships.

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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