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The Oxford English Dictionary defines a personality disorder as “a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior of a specified kind that deviates markedly from the norms of generally accepted behavior, typically apparent by the time of adolescence, and causing long-term difficulties in personal relationships or in functioning in society.”

Many teenagers may appear to exhibit narcissistic behaviors from time to time, but there is a big difference between that and a young person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A narcissistic personality disorder is generally not diagnosed in people under the age of eighteen. The Mayo Clinic explains that people with NPD “have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” Narcissistic personality disorder will affect all areas of a young person’s life. Most often beneath the grandiose façade, individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are hiding and avoiding deep feelings of self-doubt.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms that present with a narcissistic personality disorder will differ in severity and combination from person to person. When diagnosing narcissistic personality disorder, qualified mental health professionals rely on the diagnostic criteria provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which are indicated by the presence of a minimum of five of the following nine traits and must be exhibited in a variety of contexts:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, success, beauty, brilliance, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is special and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a sense of entitlement
  • Is interpersonally exploitative (e.g., takes advantage of others for personal gain)
  • Lacks empathy, and is unwilling to identify with the needs and feelings of others
  • Is envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Young people with a narcissistic personality disorder will often think only of him or themselves, feel that he or she is better or more special than others, be constantly attention-seeking, set unrealistic goals, and exaggerate their achievements. A teen with a narcissistic personality disorder will appear to have healthy self-esteem, but under the façade lays deep insecurity. While there is no cure for narcissistic personality disorder, with proper treatment teenagers can learn how to effectively manage their symptoms. Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder will help a young person learn to build up his or her damaged self-esteem and learn to relate to others in a productive fashion.  

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at [email protected] We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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