Narcissistic personality disorder is principallyÂ characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and a strong need for admiration. People with narcissistic personality disorder typically lack empathy for others and are prone to "using" or exploiting them for personal gain.
They also tend to expect preferential treatment, believing themselves entitled to better than the average person. They may be "snobbish" and look down on other people for their weaknesses or shortcomings.
However, they are also keenly aware of their own shortcomings, particularly in relation to those whom they deem to be superior to themselves.
As such, people with narcissistic personality disorder may consider themselves to be either highly contemptible or highly special, and will find it difficult to accept criticism.
Commonly defined by mental health professionals as a "cluster B" personality disorder (alongside antisocial, borderline and histrionic personality disorders), narcissistic personality disorder creates difficulties in relationships. It is associated with dramatic, erratic and disturbing or intimidating behavior.
Psychologists have suggested that narcissistic personality disorder may be caused by excessive attention or pampering in early childhood. It has also been linked to growing up with parents whose self-esteem is dependent upon their child's superiority to others, perhaps by virtue of a particular talent.
Treatment will typically involve a talking therapy, such as psychotherapy.