top of page

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder and why is it a bigger pandemic than Covid?

With the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial going on, a lot of people have come up with allegations that Amber Heard has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and has falsely fabricated her allegations of domestic violence against Johnny Depp. Well I cannot comment on whether Amber has NPD or who is right or wrong in the trial going on but if Amber loses the case and is indeed proved to have NPD, then it will be a win for many who are suffering by being in relationships with people having NPD. NPD is a bigger pandemic than Covid because as per research one in 3 people suffers from being in relationship with people having NPD. The relationship need not be just a romantic one. It could be in the form of parent, child, sibling, boss, coworker, any relative, neighbour etc. Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health/personality disorder. It is characterized by an individual having a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, and an excessive need for admiration. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a person with this personality disorder must exhibit at least five of the following characteristics, which are usually present by early adulthood.

Dr. Ramani Darusvala calls it a second hand smoke of mental health and being in the presence of someone having NPD is very detrimental for one's emotional and mental well being. Dr. Ramani Darusvala is renowned for her work for NPD and she describes people having NPD with the following traits:

1. Lack of Empathy - not able to feel how his/her actions are impacting the other or lack of understanding how the other is feeling.

2. Entitlement - they feel that they deserve special treatment from everyone around them because they are special. Regardless of whether he/she has earned respect or honor, a narcissist believes that he/she should have it. Narcissists often look down on others and view themselves as superior.

3. Grandiosity - they tell things about themselves or their lives magnifying the reality of what it truly is.

4. Superficiality - their relationships are superficial lacking real connection or intimacy. They themselves value superficial things like looks, money, power, their image in public rather than authenticity, love, connection and genuineness.

5. Chronic Seeking of Admiration, Attention or Validation - they are hungry for Attention and validation through any means.

6. Uncontrolled Rage - they spurt out in anger and rage if things don't go their way. They have little control over their emotions.

7. Arrogance - The way they talk to people is deeply arrogant and rude disregarding feelings of the person they are arguing with.

Apart from these main traits, following also are some of the traits that describe NPD:

Jealousy, envy, lying, cheating, getting pleasure from other people's misery etc.

She also describes that Narcissism is different from NPD. A person who is Narcissistic need not have NPD. For Narcissism to be Diagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a person should have either Social & Occupational Impairment &/Or Subjective Distress. That is why it is so difficult to identify people having NPD because they themselves don't think they have any problem with them unless they start experiencing extreme troubles in their personal & professional lives. And even if they are having troubles in these areas, they may not believe that it is because of them that these issues are occuring! It's the people around them who come to therapy thinking that they have some issue. But reality is that the core problem lies with the person having NPD.

Types of Narcissist

There are many types of Narcissist but as per Dr. Ramani, following are the broad ones:

1. Grandiose -

The narcissist with a grandiose personality tends to see himself as more influential and important than anyone else. People with this personality may exaggerate their importance and brag about accomplishments to elicit your admiration or envy. Someone with grandiose narcissism generally believes that they are destined to do great things. This type of narcissist is very driven and charismatic, often drawing the attention of others, which is what feeds their all-about-me personality.

The charisma with which a person with the grandiose narcissism personality pursues goals may leave others feeling the need to compete for attention. However, this is not recommended. Any time a grandiose narcissist is challenged, this personality will likely increase efforts to be the most superior.

2. Malignant

This type of narcissism is defined by someone who is incapable of showing any empathy or compassion toward others. They are very manipulative and often exploit friends, peers, and family members for personal and/or professional gain. A person with malignant narcissism is very controlling of the people in their lives and puts forth strong efforts to isolate their victim or target.

Malignant narcissists rarely feel guilt or remorse no matter how much pain they cause for others. People with this personality are usually driven by the feeling of complete control and may enjoy causing pain for others. Watching people struggle and feel oppressed gives them an opportunity to play the hero and then set a victim up to be hurt again.

3. Covert

When you think of a covert narcissist, think of a covert or “secret” military operation. It is planned, calculated, and generally comes as a surprise. This is exactly how a person with covert narcissism acts. This type of narcissist often uses guilt-tripping and emotional manipulation to get what they want. This personality type usually belittles their partners and deprives them of physical or emotional needs until they get what they want. When someone with covert narcissism does get what he wants, he will then show affection or buy gifts to gain more control over his partner.

4. Noble/Communal

This type of Narcissist, does a lot of charitable or noble activities but in reality they are doing it to show the World how good they are. They have little empathy towards the subject they are doing charity for and it's all to build their good image in front of the World.

5. Seductive Narcissism

As the name suggests, this type of narcissist personality does whatever they can do to make you feel good about yourself, at least at first. These narcissists may appear to admire you and may even idealize you, but their main goal is to make you feel that way about them so that you can be used to further their agenda. Someone who has seductive narcissism generally wants your admiration and will flatter you to get what they want. Don’t be fooled, though. When a seductive narcissist no longer needs you to compliment or stroke their ego, these narcissists may leave you and move on to a new target.

To protect yourself from someone with seductive narcissism, show appreciation for compliments or kindness, but don’t get lost in the moment and forget that every person with narcissism has an agenda. One way to tell whether someone with narcissism is being sincere with you (and they likely are not) is to watch how they treat others. The way someone with narcissism talks about or treats former co-workers, friends, or even former romantic partners is a good indication of how you will be treated when you are no longer needed.

6. Vulnerable Narcissism

Make no mistake. This type of narcissist personality, contrary to the name, is not vulnerable. Vulnerable narcissists are, however, very good at playing the vulnerable victim act. Someone with vulnerable narcissism seeks attention by trying to get pity from others.

People with this personality are very manipulative. Their behavior is often so subtle that it can be difficult to spot the warning signs. A person with vulnerable narcissism personality tends to use their ability to manipulate the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of others to help fuel their own ego trip. If a person sees through this type of narcissist’s behavior, he or she will likely act hurt or offended and will then move on to another, unsuspecting target.

7. Self Righteous

These types of Narcissists consider themselves to be right in everything and disregard anyone else's opinion on anything.

Magnets for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Following are the magnets for attracting people who have NPD:

1. Empaths - People who feel deeply for others' pain.

2. Rescuers - People having a tendency to rescue someone from problems all the time.

3. Overly positive people - People who are overly positive and look for good even in people who have treated them really bad

4. Forgivers - People who tend to forgive easily

5. Children of Narcissistic Parents - People raised by Narcissistic Parents tend to subconsciously attract similar people in life because somehow that feels familiar to them.

The reason why people develop NPD as per Dr. Ramani is because of lack of validation received in childhood. A slight percentage could have the biological angle or the temperament angle that when combined with the invalidating environment, induces NPD in them when they grow up. These people grow up having deep insecurities, fear and low self worth which is masked by their outward behaviour of charm, grandiosity and superficiality. As per Dr. Ramani, children who may have material comforts lacked by emotional or psychological validation by parents, have a high chance of developing NPD.

This doesn't mean that all the people who have experienced it, turn out to have NPD but those who have NPD certainly had an invalidating environment while growing up.

Dr. Ramani says that it is wishful thinking to hope for people with NPD to change, because in most cases they never do. So the best recourse would be to prevent yourself from getting into a relationship with them. If you already are in a relationship with them, then try to get out of it. If you are unable to get out of it, then draw up boundaries around you and set clear expectations. This won't be easy for many, but it's imperative for your sanity. If you yourself feel that you have NPD, then please get a therapist and work on yourself for improving your life.

The content has been inspired from the following links:

Dr. Ramani Darusvala YouTube Channel

Image Source-


bottom of page