Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
To get right to the point; yes, narcissistic personality disorder is treatable. It is not, however, curable. There is no cure for a personality disorder. There are only things that you can do to manage it.
When it comes to many personality disorders, there are medications that can be taken to help alleviate the symptoms. For example, someone with bipolar disorder will take medications to help control the ups and downs of their condition.
If someone has NPD, there are no medications. The only treatment is psychotherapy. Now you may know someone who has NPD and is taking medications. They may be taking antidepressants, for example.
This medication isn’t for NPD, though. Rather it’s for the depression that can often be a comorbidity or a condition that often goes along with other conditions.
Accepting Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) begins when a person is willing to accept that they may have a condition and they’re willing to go talk to a therapist and get diagnosed.
Now you’ve read the signs and symptoms of someone with narcissistic personality disorder so you know that this first step is incredibly difficult.
If someone believes that they are perfect and that everyone around them should bend to their will, why would they visit a therapist?
In many cases a person with NPD visits a therapist because their life just isn’t going the way they think it should. They seek answers. They may have just lost a mate or a job, or be dealing with something else that was a blow to their ego.
Or they may take the step of visiting a therapist because a loved one talks them in to it. Again, knowing the traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you realize how difficult this might be.
Talk therapy with a psychotherapist is really the only treatment for NPD but it can be very effective. First, a therapist will diagnose the disorder. From this point, it’s all about teaching the patient to recognize their behaviors and to begin to modify them.
Keep in mind that NPD begins in childhood so the behaviors that a person has are deeply rooted. They can be extremely difficult to become aware of and even harder to change.
That isn’t to say that it’s not possible but it does take time, patience, and hard work.
Because of the delicate nature of treating someone with NPD, it’s important to go to a psychotherapist that specializes in the disorder.
In addition to one-on-one psychotherapy, there are also group therapy opportunities and programs where the patient may live at a facility and receive treatment. Group therapy can be effective for teaching empathy.
A residency program can be required if the narcissist is dealing with a major life change, like a debilitating illness. Or they may be suicidal, impulsive, or destructive. These patients may reside in a hospital until they can get the help that they need.
It’s important to stress that treatment is an ongoing process and psychotherapy is the only real treatment for narcissistic personality disorder. Medications may be prescribed for other conditions but they don’t treat or cure NPD.
Next, let’s talk about what causes NPD because unlike some other disorders or diseases, there’s no chemical imbalance or change in the body.
What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
With many diseases or conditions, we know what causes them. For example, with type II diabetes we know that it’s caused by insulin resistance. Over time and chronic exposure to high blood sugar levels, the pancreas stops releasing insulin. Diabetes develops.
Medications and lifestyle changes can help treat and even reverse this disease.
With bipolar disorder we know that there’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medications and therapy have shown to be effective in managing this disorder. It cannot be cured, but it can be effectively treated.
With Narcissistic Personality Disorder there is no known cause. There are however, a few schools of thought on what may cause this disorder, so let’s look at those.
Keep in mind that neither of these theories has been proven.
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Many people believe that a person’s childhood can lead to NPD. If a child is overloaded with excessive praise, they may begin to believe that they are the most important person in the world.
If a child learns early on that they can readily manipulate their parents with cuteness, persuasion, and threats, they may carry that behavior into adulthood.
If a child is never taught empathy, they may not learn it.
If a child is ignored and neglected, they may feel like they have no one to turn to and their survival instincts take over. They make themselves the most important person to the exclusion of everyone else.
It’s easy to see why many psychologists believe that how a child was parented can cause narcissistic personality disorder. However, many children are overwhelmed with excessive praise and manipulate their parents, and they don’t grow up to be narcissists.
There is another theory on the cause for NPD.
Biologic and Genetic
Most psychotherapists believe that the cause of NPD is a combination of factors. These factors include biological and genetic, social, and psychological.
Remember that only one in ten people have a personality disorder and only 35 percent of those have NPD.
Social factors that influence someone developing NPD include how they interact with their friends, family, and other people when they’re young. For example, if a child learns at an early age that they’re able to readily manipulate people, they may hold on to that behavior.
However, that alone won’t cause NPD. They may need to have a genetic and psychological disposition to NPD as well.
Psychological factors include their temperament, personality, and how they deal with stress ñ their coping skills. There’s also research to support that NPD can be passed down to children.
Parents with this personality disorder may have an increased risk of passing it on to their own children.
Once you’re diagnosed, understanding the causes of narcissistic personality disorder is really only part of the solution. Treatment is essential and in order to get the right treatment, you have to get diagnosed.
How Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
As mentioned earlier, the path to treatment for NPD begins with awareness and acceptance. A person has to realize that they may have a problem and be willing to get help for it.
This first step can take years. Once it happens – once there is realization and a desire to take action, the next step is a diagnosis.
The diagnosis is a three-step process. It includes, and usually begins with, a conversation about signs and symptoms. This conversation may be with the patient alone or it may be with family members if the patient decides that they want others involved in the appointment.
The doctor will note the signs and symptoms that are discussed and then move on to the next step of the process.
A Psychological Evaluation
The next step is to go through a thorough evaluation. The evaluation may include answering a list of questions verbally, as well as filling out questionnaires or taking personality type quizzes.
The quiz may ask patients to answer questions or to rank statements on a scale.
After the psychological exam, the next step will be to have a physical exam. The physical exam is designed to make sure there isn’t a physical cause for your symptoms and to explore other potential diagnoses.
The process to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder may take more than one visit. And knowing the diagnosis is just the first step. Remember that there isn’t a cure and psychotherapy can take time and patience.
However, it’s better than the alternative because NPD can wreak havoc on someone’s life.
A person must meet five of nine of the following traits for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
If you’re in a relationship with a person who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder don’t hold your breath thinking they will seek help for it. I hope you understand when i say this:
They don’t have a problem with their behaviour. You have a problem with the their behaviour. And that my friend justifies their beliefs that they are right and you are wrong. Again.
Your best bet is to go to couples counselling and get help for the “relationship.” It’s less threatening than saying “hey check this out you’re a Narcissist.”
No-one wants to read this kind of information and think “yep that’s me.” And to be fair we have our blind spots. So, to recap there are ways to determine NPD and there are treatments. If you want help I would suggest couples counselling instead of asking them to see a therapist.
That way, you’re involved and the therapist is getting the right information to start with. You can work together on communication and how to treat each other better. A Narcissist will be ok with that. As long as they get their say and don’t look like the bad guy/girl.