Are you pompous and arrogant?

You may be suffering from what is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. We often times meet with people who are pompous, arrogant, high handed and full of themselves. Always seeking attention and admiration from others. The attitude is, we tend to hiss at them and murmur “these are the never brought up well.” We call them all sorts of names – ‘little brats, little heads and insult their parents that gave birth to them especially when they are young people, not knowing that they may be suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The term Narcissism originated from the Roman poet Ovid’s metamorphoses Book 111 in the first century of Narcissus and Echo and later evolved into highly specialized psychoanalytic term. In Ovid’s myth, Narcissus was a handsome young man who spurned the advances of many potential lovers. Narcissism has a rich and complex history in psychoanalysis. Ernest Jones a social psychologist construed narcissism as a character trait which he called the” God Complex”. Ernest described people with the God Complex as being aloof, inaccessible, omnipotent -all powerful, omniscience – all knowing. He observed that these people had a high need for uniqueness and taking no offense from anyone which is an indication that they resemble no other.

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are characterized by their persistent grandiosity, excessive need for admiration and a personal disdain and lack of empathy for other people. These group of people usually display arrogance and a distorted sense of superiority, and they seek to establish abusive power and control over others. They value themselves to the extent of openly disregarding the feelingsand wishes of others, and expect others to treat them as superiors, regardless of their status and achievements, they exhibit fragile ego and are intolerant of criticism and have a tendency to belittle others in order to validate their own superiority.

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder usually display some or all of the following symptoms without the  comensurate qualities and achievements.

–  Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people.

-Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness etc

– Self-perception of being unique, superior and associating with high status people and institutions.

–  Needing continuous admiration from others.

– Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others.

–  Exploitative of others to achieve personal gains.

–  Unwilling to empathize with feelings, wishes and needs of other people.

–  Intensely envious of others, and with the belief that others are equally envious of them.

–  Pompous and of arrogant demeanour.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is known to develop in adolescence or during early childhood. True symptoms of NPD are pervasive, apparent in varied situations, and rigid, and remain consistent over time. Generally, the symptoms of NPD impair a person’s psychological abilities to function well either at work, or school or important social setting.

The causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder are said to be a combination of environmental, social, and genetic factors.

There is every evidence that Narcissitic Personality Disorder is heritable and individuals are much more likely to develop NPD if they have a family history of the disorder.

Environmental and social factors seem to have significant influence on the onset of NPD. Children tend to learn behavioural patterns from their care givers and parents. When such care givers and parents are Narcissistic in nature, the children have a perception of themselves as being so important and not needing another person.

Leonard Groopman and Arnold Cooper in their studies identified the following as possible factors  that promote the development of  NPD.

–  An oversensitive tempereranment  at birth

–  Excessive admiration that is never balanced with realistic feedback

–  Over indulgence and over valuation by parents, other family members or peers.

–  Being praised for exceptional looks, or abilities by adults.

–   Severe emotional abuse in childhood.

–  Unpredictable or unrealistic care giving from parents.

–  Learning manipulative behaviours from parents.

–  Valued by parents as a means to regulate their self-esteem.


Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is centred around psychotherapy. Talk therapy can change patterns of behaviour. This could be done individually or in groups using pattern change strategies or temperament change

Pattern Change strategies aim at increasing ability of those with NPD to become more empathic in everyday relationship. This helps to modify patient’s sense of entitlement and self -centeredness.

Temperament change helps work on patient’s traits such as anger, rage, impulsivity and impatience. This can be accomplished by skill training.

Relationship therapy can also be used to help patients to learn the importance of applying “effective expression”, empathy, discussion and problem solving/ conflict resolution.

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