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How Common Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) involves an overall approach to life characterized by self-confidence in the extreme: arrogance, self-importance, disregard for the feelings of others and the need for constant admiration. People diagnosed with NPD tend to have a difficult time with intimacy and relationships, and often require narcissistic personality disorder treatment. While some aspects of NPD seem normal or even desirable — after all, who wouldn’t want to feel self-confident? — to be diagnosed with this disorder, these personality traits have to be consistent in different situations (for example, both at home and at work or school), and they must cause hardship or impairment in functioning. The people who receive this diagnosis have real problems in their lives, and seek narcissistic personality disorder treatment because of these problems. Coming into contact with someone who is arrogant or seems self-important may be a common experience depending upon where you work or what you do for a living, but how common is NPD in the overall population?

  • According to a 2010 review of studies published between 1980 and 2008, NPD occurs in approximately 1% of the population.
  • Other sources confirm this prevalence, estimating that 1% to 2% of the U.S. population meets the diagnostic the criteria for NPD, and could benefit from narcissistic personality disorder treatment.
  • Research published in 2008, based on interviews with over 34,000 participants, suggests a higher prevalence of NPD: approximately 7% of respondents in this study reported symptoms that met the criteria for NPD.
  • Consistent across studies is the finding that men are almost twice as likely as women to meet the criteria for NPD.
  • Because some of the typical NPD personality traits may be age-appropriate in young children, this disorder is considered extremely rare in children and typically not diagnosed until the teen years or young adulthood.
  • There is a high rate of co-occurrence between NPD and several other mental illnesses, including substance use diagnoses and bipolar disorders.

If you struggle to empathize with others and/or have significant problems being emotionally intimate, you may want to explore the possibility of an NPD diagnosis. Seeking narcissistic personality treatment is a positive step you can take to feel better and enjoy the richness of close personal relationships.

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