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In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a young man who looked at his own reflection in a pool of water and fell in love with it. It is normal and healthy to be concerned about your own well-being. However, for the disorder involving narcissism, known as narcissistic personality disorder, the person carries this to an extreme.

Narcissism begins when a person is in the teen or early adult years. It is a pattern of inner feelings and outward behavior that does not meet what is expected in a person's culture. These feelings and actions continue over time. They cause problems over a person's entire lifetime unless treated.

People with narcissistic personality disorder will show several of the following signs. They:
* believe and act like they are better than others
* constantly fantasize about success, power, or beauty
* believe that they are special and can only be understood by other special people
* expect everyone to go along with what they want
* take advantage of other people
* cannot recognize or identify with other people's feelings and
* are jealous of what other people have or think others are jealous of what they have

People with this disorder actually have very fragile self-esteem. They may not show it but they are easily hurt. This often happens because their expectations are so high, often to the point of being ridiculous. Obviously their relationships with other people tend to be very poor. Most people diagnosed with this disorder are men, but it can occur in women as well.

It is important to realize that many people show some signs of narcissism. It is only when these signs interfere with their life and ability to function, that this is considered a true disorder.

Psychotherapy can help people develop better self-esteem and more realistic expectations of others. Narcissistic people may need professional help recognizing how their behavior affects others and why they do not feel good about themselves.


Copyright © 1998. HBOC Call Center Group (602) 230-7575.
All rights reserved. Information in this document is subject to change without notice.

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