Definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder


An individual would need to have five or more of the following aspects to their personality to qualify for a diagnosis of NPD:

The following traits are representative of Grandiose Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There are variations of NPD known as Closet or Vulnerable NPD and Malignant NPD.

  • 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 success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes
These criteria are from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5 published by the American Psychiatric Association.

The 3 types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

There are 3 types of NPD. These are grandiose/exhibitionist, closet/covert and malignant/toxic.

The behavioural traits are very similar with slight differences.

Grandiose narcissists can be unashamedly attention seeking and may often seek careers in acting, social media influencing, or reality television. They tend to be the easiest type to spot.

A closet or covert (also known as vulnerable) narcissist is someone who is not so obviously narcissistic and they can appear to be self deprecating and even humble at times. They tend to be more secretive about their feelings of grandiosity.

Malignant narcissists veer towards sociopathic behaviours, have a sadistic streak and are often paranoid.

All 3 types of narcissists are manipulative and self-centred.

How Narcissistic Are You?

Partners of narcissists and/or co-dependents will often achieve an extremely low score on a narcissism quiz.

Clicking on the link will take you to a quiz which will score you on your levels of narcissism.

Ross Rosenberg on Narcissism

Ross Rosenberg answers 12 important questions about narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

What is narcissism and is there healthy narcissism? Why do narcissists get angry when confronted? Why are narcissists judgmental of others and why do narcissists behave in a superior and entitled way? Can Narcissistic Personality Disorder be cured? Does our society celebrate or value narcissism? Does narcissism get worse over time? When does reality catch up to the narcissist? How do you spot a narcissist and how do you set healthy boundaries with narcissists? What happens when you break up with a narcissist?

The Ten Personality Disorders

Information on all ten personality disorders as defined by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5 published by the American Psychiatric Association.

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Sarah Graham

I am a Counsellor, based in Bournemouth in the UK, with specialist knowledge of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am trained in treating Complex Trauma. I work online and am insured to work in most places in the world.
Unfortunately, I can't work with people in the USA or Canada due to state licensing requirements.

Link to my Counselling Website Here