People who have narcissistic personality disorder are often regarded as arrogant, manipulative, demanding, and self-centered. They come across as unsympathetic, exaggerated, and as someone who takes advantage of others to get what they want. Individuals who suffer from this may act as though they are special and all-knowing. That person may behave as though others are jealous of them and may view themselves and their life in grandiose ways. It can be especially difficult for friends and family members to interact with someone who suffers from this because that person may not take blame for their own actions or may blame others often to make themselves feel better about a situation.

Many people may feel the urge to criticize those who suffer from this disorder, but empathy is a more appropriate response because it is a disorder and should be viewed as such. A person who suffers from narcissism may appear to be very self-confident and powerful, but deep-rooted is a fragile self-esteem and sense of insecurity. Behind the narcissist’s mask is a person afraid of being humiliated, afraid of being less than perfect, and afraid of being viewed as weak or powerless. If we can hold this perspective, we can see these actions for what they really are – part of a disorder.

While there are no scientific causes behind narcissism, it is a mental illness and could have been developed during a person’s childhood, especially if they received excessive nurturing or criticism. The best plan of action for someone who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder is to see a doctor and psychologist to work through those ingrained beliefs and feelings.

To create a more productive societal conversation around mental illness, we should start by acknowledging that narcissistic personality disorder is an illness and a person who suffers from this deserves love, kindness, and compassion just as any other person does. Instead of criticizing or feeling defensive regarding someone’s behavior, we should view their actions as a component of their disorder and nothing more. We shouldn’t take those behaviors personally, because they are simply reflections of a mental illness.

We can make the choice to research narcissistic personality disorder further to learn more about the symptoms and causes, as well as meet with a psychologist, doctor, and/or support group to get helpful ways of coping. If we choose to educate ourselves on this mental illness, we can decide to continue providing our love and support, regardless of the disorder’s symptoms.


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