Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which the individual is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. This condition only affects one half percent of the population. In the United States this accounts for approximatly 1,500,000 individuals. First formulated in 1968, it was historically called megalomania, and it is closely linked to egocentrism.
Symptoms of this disorder include, but are not limited to:
Reacts to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
May take advantage of others to reach their own goal
Tends to exaggerate their own importance, achievements, and talents
Imagines unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
Requires constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
Easily becomes jealous
Lacks empathy and disregards the feelings of others
Obsessed with oneself
Mainly pursues selfish goals
Trouble keeping healthy relationships
Is easily hurt and rejected
Sets unrealistic goals
Wants "the best" of everything
Appears as tough-minded or unemotional
The symptoms of Narcissistic personality disorder can be similar to the traits of individuals with strong self-esteem and confidence; differentiation occurs when the underlying psychological structures of these traits are considered pathological. Narcissists have such an elevated sense of self-worth that they value themselves as inherently better than others. Yet, they have a fragile self-esteem and cannot handle criticism, and will often try to compensate for this inner fragility by belittling or disparaging others in an attempt to validate their own self-worth. It is this sadistic tendency that is characteristic of narcissism as opposed to other psychological conditions affecting level of self-worth.
In children, inflated self-views and grandiose feelings, which are characteristics of narcissism, are part of the normal self-development. Children are typically unable to understand the difference between their actual from ideal self, which causes an unrealistic perception of the self. After about age 8, views of the self, both positive and negative, begin to develop based on comparisons of peers & become more realistic. Two factors that cause self-view to remain unrealistic are dysfunctional interactions with parents that can be a lack or excessive attention. The child will either compensate for lack of attention or act in terms of unrealistic self-perception.
The CNS, Childhood Narcissism Scale, measurements concluded that narcissistic children seek to impress others & gain admiration but do not have any interest in creating sincere friendships. CNS researchers have measured that childhood narcissism has become more prevalent in Western society: any types of activities (raising a child to their education applications)[clarification needed], which focus on overly praising the individual, can raise narcissistic levels. More research is needed to find the reasons that promote or protect against narcissism.