Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a severe psychological disorder characterized by excessive grandiosity, constant need for admiration, inability to handle criticisms, fantasies of unlimited power, unstable interpersonal relationships, impulsivity, volatility, and attention-seeking. Research data from community samples suggests that 6.2% of the population and predominantly males (50-75%) are associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Many works of credible research suggest that people with NPD are highly prone to substance abuse, mood disorders, anxiety, and bouts of violent behavior. Several core features of NPD contribute to these comorbidities, and they are shame, helplessness, self-directed anger, higher admiration of self, and impulsivity. Individuals with NPD are also at significantly high risk of multiple suicidal attempts using violent means and violent assault on people with close relationships with the individual.
People with NPD thrive on chaos. Therefore, it is incredibly important for people with NPD to get diagnosed as soon as possible to avoid any unlikely outcome.
However, a recent study led by University of Chicago Medicine personality disorder specialist and psychiatrist Royce Lee, MD found that increased oxidative stress in the blood is directly related to NPD and interpersonal hypersensitivity.
Oxidative Stress is defined by the production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) within the body and the inability of the body to detoxify or completely eradicate these toxic elements from the body. The imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals, or reactive oxygen molecules creates stress on the body because the body has a responsibility to metabolize excessive oxidative chemicals that go to the brain and throughout.
The study titled: “Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorder: Relationship with Oxidative Stress,” published in March in the Journal of Personality Disorders, found that an elevated concentration of 8-OH-DG, which itself is an oxidative stress biomarker was common in people with NPD and Borderline Personality Disorder.
Additionally, the study found that NPD represents a disorder of hypersensitivity. When dealing with interpersonal stress, someone with NPD might appear aloof on the outside. But on the inside, the study results suggest it’s actually hypersensitivity to the environment. That means there could be a possible relationship between oxidative stress and how people act on their emotions.
Although the severity of NPD can be reduced via therapy, there are a few options. Here, we will talk about two such approaches:
This type of therapy combines elements of several other treatment approaches, including:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Schema therapists offer guidance in identifying and understanding patterns of behavior that develop in childhood when emotional needs go unfulfilled. These patterns, called schemas, can persist throughout life, contributing to unhelpful or harmful coping styles. These coping styles can then prompt specific traits and behaviors, including the arrogance, entitlement, and grandiosity that can characterize a narcissistic personality.
With a therapist’s support, individuals with NPD can learn to counter and heal unhelpful schemas by:
Experiencing and expressing emotions
Examining schemas in the context of personal relationships
Challenging and reframing thought patterns that cause distress
Finding evidence for and against early schemas
Practicing communication and other skills that promote positive growth
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
While DBT was developed from principles of CBT specifically to treat borderline personality disorder, it can help address narcissistic defenses, too.
This approach can help someone with a narcissistic personality learn to:
Identify and regulate emotions
Tolerate uncomfortable or distressing experiences
Navigate interpersonal relationships more effectively
Boost mindfulness skills to better manage unwanted emotions
DBT usually includes group therapy along with individual therapy.
Group sessions offer the chance to practice communication and other interpersonal skills. These sessions can also help the person build empathy for others.
If you or anyone you know should be screened and treated for NPD, please contact Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678 for our Mental-health related services. Our highly experienced team of mental health specialists are here to help you heal and assist with your mental-health related issues.
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