Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The narcissistic behavior pattern is one of total intense self-love and adoration. Like in the Greek myth in which a boy named Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water, these individuals are totally self-absorbed. These individuals exaggerate their own worth, talents, and accomplishments and they expect recognition for their wonderful superiority. They have strong fantasies of their own high success, genius, beauty or ideal love and they require great admiration from others as well as special treatment. This overblown sense of self-importance leads to arrogant and superior attitudes, a deep lack of empathy for the needs and feelings of others, and the expectation of special treatment and association with only superior people and institutions. These individuals are often jealous and exploitive of others and see them as being inferior to themselves.
A Representative Example
A lady complained that her date for a first (and last) evening talked only of himself, and never once asked her anything about herself. For much of the evening she indulged his selfish one-sided conversation. When she finally told him that he was rude and self-centered and apparently had little interest in who she was, he reacted with laughter and a hint of righteous indignation stating: "of course I talked about myself, I am the most interesting person that I have ever met!"
Narcissistic personality disorder has traditionally been thought to be a very strong hand hard to penetrate defense against a terrible fear of inferiority. Some researchers think that these behavior patterns are reaction to cold and rejecting parents. The idea is that narcissistic defenses of dramatic self-love and over-confidence in their perfection helps these individuals to cope with feelings of worthlessness caused by a history of abuse, death of a parent, Parental divorce, or adoption.
A more contemporary theory is that Narcissistic behaviors are learned when children are treated with too much adoration and favor. From this perspective, children learn to overestimate their own "wonderfulness". This mechanism seems to be involved because first borns and only children are known to be more Narcissistic than are later children from larger families.
It is also suspected that a present breakdown in our culture may lead to children who are, and remain, impulsive, self-centered, and highly materialistic. From this perspective, we are in an age of selfishness or generational narcissism.