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Treatment Option for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.

Treatment is more than stop having a high opinion of yourself...or staring endlessly at your reflection.

Treatment is more than stop having a high opinion of yourself...or staring endlessly at your reflection.

The Drugs Don't Work

When it comes to narcissism ( Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD), the drugs don’t work. Medication for this specific condition doesn’t exist. In fact, for most personality disorders, medication is non-existent.

NPD is a condition the involves personal attention, therapy and an overabundance of patience. Often, medication is used to treat secondary symptoms that may show up in an diagnosis. It's not uncommon for someone with narcissism to also have attention deficit disorder (ADD), other personality disorders, or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

ODD is a behavioral childhood disorder that is characterized as a person being uncooperative, defiant, and hostile toward others, especially those in authority (something that those with narcissism have been accused of doing). To make matter complicated, ODD, itself, is usually diagnosed with other conditions, too. This condition's main treatment happens to be psychotherapy.

Similar to ODD, psychotherapy for NPD can be the answer. However, the condition is one that can be lengthy, possibly lasting over several years. Still, this form of treatment is viable in helping a person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) develop a better, lasting personality trait.

Challenges of Treatment

Changing one’s personality trait is not an easy task. It requires that the individual “unlearn” traits that have been acquired over the years. Then, learn new ones to replace those old traits.

The antecedent in many case are coping skills, as well as a means of changing one's world view. This takes practice and constant prompting.

Another major problem is self-awareness of the condition. Most people with NPD or any form of personality disorder will not necessarily seek help with this condition. In part, many don't feel they have a problem and will often ignore friends and family who may have recognized the condition. In many cases, they will accuse them of being the ones with the problem.

from Original Artist

from Original Artist

Aside from self-awareness issues, the very things that make a person narcissistic can make them difficult to deal with. These include:

  • Arrogance,
  • Condescension,
  • Lack of empathy

In addition to that, those with narcissistic personality disorder have a tendency to take control of sessions or take conversations off-topic.

Still, despite its difficulty to implement treatment among those with narcissism, several forms of therapy can help.

The Therapeutic Approach

Still, whether done by intervention or the choice of the individual, NPD can be treated through one of three forms of psychotherapy. Often, they are initiated or guided by a psychiatrist. This may involve utilizing family members, other professionals, and group members with similar conditions. Often, the members in such group may have the same condition or simply be those that the patient can trust.

...much of the strategies and coping skills taught to the individual with NPD is coming through like-minded members of the group.

There three popular forms of psychotherapy. According to the Mayo Clinic Website, they are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy -- this therapy helps the individual with NPD identify their unhealthy behaviors. After identification, the behavior(s) are replaced through the teaching and practice of healthier, positive ones.
  • Family Therapy -- in this meeting, the family members of the individual with NPD are included in the session.
  • Group Therapy -- As the name implies a group of people with similar conditions meet on a regular basis in a psychiatrist’s office. While the psychiatrist monitors and heads the group, much of the strategies and coping skills taught to the individual with NPD is coming through like-minded members of the group. It can be a brain-storming tactic or a lesson conducted through experience

In all cases, conflict resolutions, communication skills, problem-solving tactics, and coping skills are taught to the individual and his/her family.

The Probability of Long Term Therapy

Due to the complexity of the condition -- and the fact that many patients are reluctant to self-identify this condition as a problem -- therapy meetings may last for years. And, possibly, for a lifetime if the patient is consistent and persistent.

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Then again, it may not last that long, considering their nature to not believe they have a problem.

In some cases, a person with NPD may need therapy for most of his/her life or until ideal behavior has been reached to some degree.

Short-Term Prospects

Short-term therapy for NPD is nearly non-existent. In many cases, therapy may help with other issues rather than narcissism.

As mentioned earlier, narcissism can exist with other conditions. It's usually people with coexisting conditions that may benefit the most from both short-term and long-term therapy. Even medication may help with the other conditions.

These "other" conditions can be easily identified, possibly much easier than NPD can. Often, a person with NPD will have such coexisting conditions such as :

  • physical and emotional abuse,
  • depression,
  • low self-esteem, or
  • shame.

Another condition (although not considered a mental disorder) is extreme perfectionism. This is a need to be achieve success or to be "perfect". The condition can be toxic and actually force a person with this mindset to hinder taking chances, avoid conflicts, and self-examination. Most importantly, it can heighten a person's unhappiness. Often, a person with narcissism and perfectionism will have problems adjusting to an ever-changing world that has the potential for failures and never being able to reach a perfect result.

Difficult but Possible

NPD is a personality disorder in which a person has a grandiose perception of him/herself. The person with this condition may lack empathy for others; have fantasies of being successful; have an inflated ego, and appear to be tough-minded or unemotional.

Some cases, these qualities will be perceived as positive traits. It's not uncommon to hear those with this condition state that they are "strong-willed" people.

There are no known causes; however,it is believed that some of these traits and factors may the patient's childhood.

There are no known causes; however,it is believed that some of these traits and factors may have existed in the patient's childhood. Whether it is caused by genetics or congenital factors is still up for debate.

A person with NPD is often diagnosed by the use of certain criteria established by a psychiatrist or professional specializing in mental health. Often, as mentioned by the Mayo Clinic Website, diagnose is made by:

The important aspect of treating NDP is for the patient to recognize he or she has the condition and wants to change it. Afterward, therapy can help, as long as the patient sticks with it and realize it will take time.

Group therapy in action (originally posted on

Group therapy in action (originally posted on

Work Cited

  • Perfectionism | Psychology Today
    Perfectionism is a trait that makes life an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. When healthy, it can be self-motivating and drive you to overcome adversity and achieve success. When unhealthy, it can be a fast and enduring track to unhap
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) in Children | Johns Hopkins Medicine
    Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a type of behavior disorder. It is mostly diagnosed in childhood. Children with ODD are uncooperative, defiant, and hostile toward peers, parents, teachers, and other authority figures.
  • Why Are Narcissists So Hard to Treat?
    By Wendy Behary - Narcissists are notoriously difficult clients. The key to working with them is being direct about the roiling emotions they trigger in us, and remembering that their self-aggrandizement almost always covers up painful longings for t
  • Narcissistic personality disorder - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic
    This mental health disorder includes an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive admiration, fragile self-esteem and troubled relationships.

© 2015 Dean Traylor


Akhil Anil on January 06, 2015:

Treatment Option for Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a good article

Karine Gordineer from Upstate New York on January 05, 2015:

Interesting Hub. I don't believe I've read one like it yet. You may want to move the description of what NPD is up to the top though as I was wondering as I was reading what the clinical definition was and then found the description towards the end of the Hub. Curious what your interest is on the topic? I would actually love to see more information on the subject; the mention of the connection of criminal behavior and NPD, NPD in our society, etc. All in all good and thought provoking hub - thanks for sharing!

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