Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, an intense need for attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are often described as arrogant, self-centered, and manipulative; a person with this disorder may initially reel in potential friends or love interests through their charming behavior but may later turn them away because of their sense of grandiosity. While there are a lot of assumptions surrounding this disorder – such that a person believes they are better than everyone else – there is a major factor that isn’t taken into consideration: shame.

Shame is considered a negative evaluation of the self; a painful feeling of humiliation or distressed caused by doing wrong or embarrassing behavior. There are two types of shame, exhibited as explicit or implicit. Explicit shame is the deliberate feeling, while implicit shame may be shown through body language that appears to make the person smaller, downward eye gaze, and more. Previous research has shown that narcissism is a first defense against feelings of shame, as a person attempts to seek admiration on the outside, despite how they are feeling on the inside.

A study published in the journal Psychiatry Research sought to explore how shame is experience by those with NPD. Thirty-one individuals diagnosed with the disorder completed measures related to shame, their proneness to feel shame, and their proneness to feel guilt. Other related tests were conducted, and results from the study showed that participants with NPD experienced higher levels of explicit shame than those without the disorder. Participants with NPD were also shown to experience higher levels of implicit shame than those without NPD. From these findings, what does this mean for someone who has been diagnosed with this disorder?

If you have NPD, this means that there may be underlying feeling that you are trying to suppress, making treatment a very important option for you. Shame has been shown as a central emotion to NPD, as many people with this disorder try to mask their true feelings with displays of grandiosity. If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn of how you can work through the symptoms that have been holding you back.

Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.

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