What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

David is an intelligent and successful financial planner who threw in a lucrative job to become a full-time author. Even having a short conversation with David leaves the listener with the impression that David thinks very highly of himself. In fact, a conversation with David is not so much a conversation as a monologue—David likes to talk about David and quickly steers any diversions in the conversation back to himself.

Naturally, David believes himself to be an excellent writer and the fact that no publishing company has taken up any of his manuscripts does not seem to dent David’s all-encompassing self-enthusiasm. In his mind, it is a question of his talent being unrecognized, not a lack of writing ability. He has an inflated sense of his own importance, telling his unpaid editor that their own career will flourish once it is known that they have edited his books. The fact that his books remain unpublished is immaterial to David.

He also takes enormous pride in his image and his appearance. He takes every opportunity to observe himself in mirrors and shop windows, and believes that even the most minor change in his appearance will be observed by others. When other authors are successful, he berates them—heaping special scorn on writers who win awards, stating that to win an award is the “kiss of death” for any writer. Strangely, what qualifications David does possess, however trivial, are routinely displayed, referred to, and talked about constantly.

He invariably has a number of schemes to achieve fame up his sleeve—the plot of his next novel, perhaps a screenplay, or a television appearance. David just can’t seem to keep out of the limelight and constantly dreams up ideas to keep himself there. His conversation is peppered with anecdotes about himself. He has no interest in either the good fortunes or woes of other people.

Having no time for others, it is not surprising that David has no real friends, merely a string of acquaintances that he has cultivated for the sole purpose of attaining greater public exposure, or of receiving endless flattery. He cannot bear to remain quiet in a roomful of people—within a few minutes he dominates the conversation and commandeers the floor. He allows only the briefest input from others, and even then regurgitates their opinions as his own. David suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

In further articles, we will look at what makes a person become a narcissist, the affect of narcissistic behavior on family members, and current treatment options.

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