Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a
personality disorder where the narcissist is described as being excessively
preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity.
Narcissistic personality disorder is closely linked to
self-centeredness. The term narcissism is taken from the Greek
mythological character, Narcissus, who was obsessed with gazing at his own
The cause of this disorder is unknown, according to Groopman and Cooper. However, they list the following factors identified by various researchers as possibilities.
Some narcissistic traits are common and a normal developmental phase. When
these traits are compounded by a failure of the interpersonal environment and
continue into adulthood, they may intensify to the point where NPD is diagnosed.
Some psychotherapists believe that the etiology of the disorder is, in
terms, the result of to early childhood development.
If a child does not receive sufficient recognition for their talents during about ages 3�7 they will never mature and continue to be in the narcissistic early development stage. It has been suggested that NPD may be exacerbated by the onset of aging and the physical, mental, and occupational restrictions it imposes, as can most personality traits.
It has been suggested that narcissistic personality disorder may be related to defenses against shame.
Psychiatrist Glen Gabbard suggested NPD could be broken down into two subtypes. He saw the "oblivious" subtype as being grandiose, arrogant, and thick-skinned and the "hypervigilant" subtype as being easily hurt, oversensitive, and ashamed. In his view, the oblivious subtype presents for admiration, envy, and appreciation a powerful, grandiose self that is the antithesis of a weak internalized self, which hides in shame, while the hypervigilant subtype neutralizes devaluation by seeing others as unjust abusers.
Dr. Jeffrey Young, who coined the term "Schema Therapy", a technique originally developed by psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck (1979), also links NPD and shame. He sees the so-called Defectiveness Schema as a core schema of NPD, along with the Emotional Deprivation and Entitlement Schemas.