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What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Lay Theories of Narcissism

Psychology, 2014, 5, 1120-1130
Published Online July 2014 in SciRes.
How to cite this paper: Wright, K., & Furnham, A. (2014). What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Lay Theories of Narciss-
ism. Psychology, 5, 1120-1130.
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Lay Theories of Narcissism
Kirstie Wright1, Adrian Furnham1,2
1Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK
2Norwegian Business School (BI), Olso, Norway
Received 16 May 2014; revised 12 June 2014; accepted 5 July 2014
Copyright © 2014 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).
There are various studies on mental health literacy which examine lay people’s knowledge and
understanding of various mental disorders. Many are interested in beliefs about cause, manifesta-
tion and cure as well as the relationship between those beliefs. This study examines lay beliefs re-
garding the manifestations, aetiology and treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD),
and their determinants using a questionnaire divided into three parts. Participants (N = 201)
answered 45 attitudinal statements designed for this study regarding NPD. They consisted of 18
manifestation items, 15 aetiology items and 12 treatment items referring to NPD. They also com-
pleted the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. Each section of the questionnaire was factor ana-
lysed to determine the structure of those beliefs. Factors derived from a principle component
analysis of lay beliefs demonstrate poor knowledge of NPD. Factors derived from the manifesta-
tions, aetiology and treatment section were modestly and coherently correlated. No demographic
factors correlated with all aspects of mental health literacy and lay theories. People are surpri-
singly misinformed about NPD. They believed that narcissists manifested superficiality and social
problems, business abilities and fragility. No distinction was made between biological and psy-
chological causes or genetics and early negative events. Inability to identify NPD may account for
many reports of sub-clinical narcissism being associated with leadership derailment.
Narcissism, Mental Health Literacy, Aetiology, Treatment
1. Introduction
The present study concerns lay people’s beliefs about narcissism. It is surprising that despite the prevalence of
K. Wright, A. Furnham
personality disorders and a rise of narcissism in Western culture (Lasch, 1978) that little research has been car-
ried out into lay theories of NPD. This may be due, in part, to difficulties defining NPD. NPD is found in cluster
B of the personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-R, there
have been few empirical studies investigating whether the DSM criteria are useful in defining NPD as the DSM
criteria are based on clinical anecdotes rather than empirical studies (Cooper & Ronningstam, 1992). Pincus and
Lukowitsky (2010) concluded that relying on DSM-IV criteria may impede the recognition of clinical narciss-
Lay theories of NPD are of particular interest due to difficulties in defining NPD causing NPD to be contro-
versial and likely to be deleted from DSM-V (Campbell & Miller, 2011). Such doubts are supported by Cain,
Pincus and Ansell (2008) who found that the DSM-IV criteria for NPD have low discriminate validity and that a
clinical diagnosis of NPD is only moderately stable over time. However, Ronningstam (2011) suggests that NPD
should be included into DSM-V but that the criteria should focus on behaviours that are less affected by context
changes such as self-esteem regulation. A suggested prevalence rate of 6% (Stinson, Dawson, Goldstein, Chou,
Huang, Smith et al., 2008) in the general population suggests that NPD affects many people especially due to the
distress that narcissist’s cause to those around them (Twenge & Campbell, 2009) and therefore should be kept in
DSM-V and NPD is currently included in the draft DSM-V.
1.1. Behavioural Manifestations
The classic literature has focused on narcissist’s inability to regulate self-esteem and a satisfying self representa-
tion of themselves causing them to demand attention and admiration to feed their self-esteem (Cooper & Ron-
ningstam, 1992). A key feature of NPD is a lack of empathy (Ritter, Dziobek, Preisler, Ruter, Vater, Fydrich et
al., 2011). This causes narcissists to use others for their own gain and makes close long-term relationships only
successful when the narcissist is getting the self-esteem boost that they need from the relationship (De Wall,
Buffardi, Bonser, & Campbell, 2011). Grandiosity (exaggerating talents and an unrealistic sense of superiority)
has been found to be key in discriminating NPD from other personality disorders (Ronningstam & Gunderson
1991). When a narcissists self-esteem is not gratified by others or they are criticised this can cause them to turn
to anger (Ronningstam & Gunderson, 1991). Gratification from achievements comes from external praise rather
than an inner sense of an achievement being accomplished (Cooper & Ronningstam, 1992). These traits vary
according to the severity of the narcissism and not every trait will be seen in all cases (Kernberg, 2010).
However, there is disagreement surrounding whether the classical portrayal of NPD is valid. For example
narcissists with low self esteem who are threatened show less anger than narcissists with high self-esteem (Tho-
maes & Bushman, 2011). This disputes the narcissist portrayed in the classical literature that has low self esteem
and turns to anger when criticised. This has resulted in the suggestion that the classical account of NPD has two
dimensions: Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissism (Wink, 1991; Dickinson & Pincus, 2003). It has even been
suggested that the manifestation of grandiosity of which there is much agreement on could be improved by re-
cognising two different dimensions of NPD and specifying the patterns of grandiosity related to each dimension
(Ronningstam & Gunderson, 1990). Miller, Hoffman, Gaughan, Gentile, Maples and Campbell (2011) argue that
the primary feature shared by both dimensions of narcissism is a tendency to act antagonistically towards others
and that they differ on many other features. Vulnerable narcissists have grandiose fantasies but are timid, inse-
cure and consequently do not appear narcissistic on the surface. Grandiose narcissists have higher levels of hap-
piness and life satisfaction (Rose, 2001) and are more exhibitionistic than vulnerable narcissists (Wink, 1991).
The two dimensions of narcissism have been intertwined in many pieces of research with the distinction not
consistently made (Miller et al., 2011). This has had “serious consequences for the field as a great deal of unre-
liability are introduced into our communications, assessments and conceptualizations” of NPD (Miller, Widiger,
& Campbell, 2010: p. 641). This is particularly true given the finding that nomological networks of the two di-
mensions of NPD are unrelated (Miller et al., 2011). Pincus and Lukowitsky (2010) suggest that the poor validi-
ty of the DSM-IV criteria is due to overemphasising grandiose traits over the vulnerable traits of NPD.
1.2. Aetiology
Theories on what causes NPD tends to focus on environmental factors over biological factors. The two main en-
vironmental theories are those of Kernberg (1975) and Kohut (1977) who focus on the parent-child relationship.
Genetics may also play a role in causing NPD because narcissism is highly heritable, although there is a lack of
K. Wright, A. Furnham
research demonstrating exactly how genetics causes NPD (Paris, 1996). This is supported by newborns showing
differences in temperament (self regulation and reactivity) which is thought to have a biological basis (Rothbart,
1991). Two views have been put forward on how temperament differences can cause personality disorders. One
is that the infant’s temperament can cause problems for the caregivers which can cause the infants problems to
worsen (Rutter & Quinton, 1984). The second is that certain temperaments may put children at risk of certain
environmental stressors (Paris, 1996). This demonstrates that an interaction between genes (temperament) and
the environment (early parenting) is likely to cause NPD and is further supported by Dunn and Plomin (1990)
who found that personality traits are up to 50% genetically determined.
The cause of NPD may be different depending on the different dimensions of narcissism because vulnerable
narcissism is strongly related to an anxious model of attachment (Dickinson & Pincus, 2003) whereas grandiose
narcissism is related to a secure or dismissive attachment style (Dickinson & Pincus, 2003). Vulnerable narciss-
ism has been found to be significantly related to child abuse unlike grandiose narcissism (Otway & Vignoles,
2006). More research is needed into how the different theories of what causes NPD relate to vulnerable and
grandiose narcissism and may lead to a more adequate explanation of the cause of NPD. Therefore due to the
different theories of the cause of NPD (although there is a general consensus in psychoanalytical literature that
early parenting plays a role (Otway & Vignoles, 2006)) it is interesting to investigate lay theories on this issue.
The findings could be useful to determine what information is most needed in health campaigns regarding NPD.
1.3. Treatment
Treatments of NPD have traditionally come from a psychodynamic and psychoanalytic framework (Adler, 1986).
Long term psychodynamic therapies are thought to be the best form of treatment (Turner, 1994). An example of
a well used and tested psychodynamic treatment for NPD is that of Kohut’s (1971). The aim of the treatment is
for the patient to idolize the therapist because they did not get to idolize their parents as a child. Patients also get
to see how their child-parent relationship could have led to their NPD.
Behavioural treatments of NPD focus on the contexts in which the narcissistic behaviours occur and the beha-
viours that cause the individual and those around them harm. Behavioural treatments have started to appear
more in the literature (Koerner, Kohlenberg, & Parker, 1996). Cognitive therapies focus on developmental issues
and on building a therapist-client relationship to modify the narcissist’s beliefs using certain strategies (Oldham
& Morris, 1995). Treatment varies with the severity and symptoms present (Kernberg, 2010). Family and cou-
ples therapy is also effective in treating NPD (Harman & Waldo, 2004). Pharmaceuticals are not normally used
for NPD itself but for illnesses that may co-occur with NPD such as depression (Oldham & Morris, 1995). Due
to the range of treatments available for NPD, it is interesting to investigate lay beliefs.
Furnham, Kirby and McClelland (2011) found NPD was the least likely to be seen as in need of treatment and
was attributed to psychological rather than biological causes. Their study contained general aetiology and treat-
ment questions that applied to all personality disorders and therefore there is a need for research with questions
specific to NPD.
1.4. This Study
This study aims to investigate laypeople’s beliefs regarding the manifestations, aetiology and treatment of NPD
using three exploratory principle component analyses on attitudinal statements specific to NPD to determine
whether laypeople’s beliefs can be reduced into interpretable factors. This study also aims to investigate whether
laypeople have a monological belief system regarding NPD. No specific predictions were made because this re-
search is largely exploratory.
This study aimed to investigate whether participants own narcissistic traits measured by the NPI-16 (Ames,
Rose, & Anderson, 2006), a shortened version of the original NPI related to laypeople’s theories regarding the
aetiology, manifestations and treatment of NPD, participants identification and likeliness to suggest help for all
vignettes. This was to investigate whether people’s narcissistic traits affect their lay theories and mental health
literacy. It was hypothesised that NPI score would relate to participants lay beliefs, identification and likeliness
to suggest help for all NPD vignettes.
This study therefore aimed to investigate the demographics that influence mental health literacy and lay theo-
ries regarding NPD. It was hypothesised that the study of mental illness (Furnham, Daoud, & Swami, 2009),
personal experience of mental illness (Furnham, Abajian, & McClelland, 2011), qualifications (Lauber, Carlos,
K. Wright, A. Furnham
& Wolf, 2005), age (Fisher & Goldney, 2003) and gender (Wang, Adair, Fick, Lai, Waye, Jorm, & Addington,
2007) would correlate with the correct identification of vignettes, participants likeliness to suggest help and lay
beliefs regarding the manifestations, aetiology and treatment of NPD.
2. Method
2.1. Participants
Two hundred and one participants were recruited opportunistically in public places (N = 130 (65%)), with the
assistance of another researcher (N = 24) and online (N = 71 (35%)) via email through contacts of the author.
Participation was voluntary and no incentives were given for participating. Of those who answered the relevant
demographic questions there were 115 (58%) females and 84 (42%) males. There was an age range of 18 to 85
years (M = 32.8, standard deviation (SD) = 17.1). The majority of participants were of white ethnicity (75.9%, N
= 151), with Asian (7.5%, N = 15), Chinese (6.5%, N = 13), Black (5%, N = 10), Mixed (4.5%, N = 9) and other
ethnicities (1%) also represented. In relation to qualifications 30.5% (N = 61) had A levels, 19% (N = 38) had
undergraduate degrees, 16.5%, (N = 33) had GCSEs, 15% (N = 30) were still in full time education, 6% (N = 12)
had other higher qualifications, 5% (N = 10) had no qualifications, 4% (N = 8) had completed a foundation
course and 4% (N = 8) had a postgraduate degree. There was a NPI score range of 1 to 7 (M = 4.86, SD = .96).
Lastly 19.7% had studied a mental illness (N = 39) and 6.1% had been diagnosed with a mental illness (N = 12).
2.2. Apparatus and Materials
Lay Theories: Forty-five attitudinal statements were presented to participants. They consisted of 18 manifesta-
tion items, 15 aetiology items and 12 treatment items referring to NPD. These items were derived from the lite-
rature (Cooper & Ronningstam, 1992; Kernberg, 2010) as well as from Furnham, Daoud and Swami (2009).
They were piloted for comprehensability. Participants were asked to rate on a likert scale (from 7 Strongly Agree
to 1 Strongly Disagree) their agreement with each statement.
NPI: Participants completed the NPI-16 (Ames, Rose, & Anderson, 2006) which is a measure of narcissistic
traits. It consists of 16 items which are pairs of statements; one is the narcissistic choice and the other is the non-
narcissistic choice, with participants marking their agreement with the pairs of statements on a likert scale (7
Strongly Agree to 1 Strongly Disagree Statement B). It has been found to have internal, discriminate and predic-
tive validity (Ames, Rose, & Anderson, 2006).
2.3. Procedure
Participants were invited to fill out the questionnaire either online or in person by the experimenter. Half of par-
ticipants (N = 101, (50%)) filled out the questionnaire which started with a male depression vignette and the
other half (N = 100, (50%)) filled out the questionnaire which started with a female depression vignette. The
questionnaire took approximately 20 - 25 minutes to complete. All participants gave informed consent and it was
explained that their responses were anonymous, confidential and that they had the right to withdraw.
3. Results
3.1. Manifestations
A PCA with varimax rotation was carried out on the 18 behavioural manifestation items. Item 15 was reversed.
Upon an initial inspection of the communalities it was discovered that two of the 18 items, Item 9 (The onset of
narcissism can occur anytime from early childhood) and Item 17 (Narcissism is not a disorder merely a strong
personality) had low communalities (.47 and .48 respectively) and were therefore excluded from the PCA. The
communality cut off point was .50. A PCA was then run with the remaining 16 items. The Bartlett’s test of sphe-
ricity was significant at χ2 = 971.90, df = 120, p < .001 which together with the size of the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin
measure of sampling adequacy KMO = .84 demonstrated that the remaining 16 manifestation items had suffi-
cient common variance for a PCA (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). Inspection of the Scree plot (Cattell, 1966) and
factor loadings (Comrey & Lee, 1992) were used to identify appropriate components. The PCA revealed three
factors that accounted for 58% of the variance.
The first factor contained seven items referring to Superficiality and Social Problems (Eigen value = 3.85,
K. Wright, A. Furnham
accounting for 24% of the variance). The second factor contained three items referring to Business Abilities
(Eigen value = 2.04, accounting for 13% of the variance). The third factor contained three items referring to Fra-
gility (Eigen value = 1.75, accounting for 11% of the variance). The factor loadings for each item in each factor
are reported in Table 2, along with factor scores calculated by taking the mean response associated with a factor.
A high mean indicates strong agreement with a factor and a low mean indicates low agreement. Participants
rated that NPD manifests itself in Superficiality and Social Problems more than Fragility and Business Abili-
ties. Cronbachs α coefficients were of low to moderate reliability and are also reported in Table 1 (Kline,
3.2. Aeitiology
A PCA was carried out using the same criteria as the above PCA with the 15 aetiology items. Item 38 was re-
versed. The communalities of three items, Item 20 (Delusional beliefs can cause narcissism), Item 24 (People
can be predisposed to develop narcissism by having an oversensitive temperament at birth) and Item 27 (Nar-
cissism is a defence mechanism and therefore caused by repressed emotions) were low (.44, .34 and .41 re-
spectively) and excluded from further analysis. A PCA on the remaining 12 items was carried out and demon-
strated the existence of three factors accounting for 56% of the variance. The Bartlett’s test of sphericity was
significant at χ2 = 672.50, df = 66, p < .001 which together with size of the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of
sampling adequacy KMO = .77 demonstrated that the 12 remaining aetiology items had sufficient common va-
riance for a PCA (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). The first factor contained six items referring to Social and Cogni-
Table 1. The means, standard deviations, factor loadings, Eigen values and alphas of the 16 manifestation items.
Factor and Items Eigen Value Variance/Factor Loading Mean (SD) Alpha
1) Sup
erficiality and Social Problems 3.85 24 4.44 (.98) .60
Narcissists strive for attention.
Individual’s narcissistic traits can vary across a person’s lifetime.
Narcissists can
handle criticism well. .75
Narcissism is Rife in today’s society.
Having a narcissistic personality can cause problems in many
areas of life such as work, relationships and financial matters.
Narcissists are vain.
are low in Emotional Intelligence. .61
2) Business Abilities
2.04 12.7 4.02 (1.12) .65
Narcissists are visionaries.
Narcissists are likely to have a high IQ.
Narcissists make good leaders.
) Fragility 1.75 10.5 4.15 (1.07) .49
Narcissists have a fragile self esteem.
Narcissists are likely to suffer from other mental disorders.
Narcissist often set unrealistic goals.
Non Loading Items
Narcissists are more likely to be men than women.
Narcissists cannot have close healthy relationships.
Narcissists are manipulative.
K. Wright, A. Furnham
tive Explanations (Eigen value = 3.15, accounting for 26% of the variance). The second factor contained two
items referring to Genetics and Early Negative Events (Eigen value = 1.83, accounting for 15% of the variance).
The third factor contained two items referring to Negative Feelings (Eigen value = 1.74, accounting for 15% of
the variance). The factor loadings for each item in each factor are reported in Table 2, along with factor scores.
Participants rated that the cause of NPD can be explained by Social and Cognitive Explanations more than Neg-
ative Feelings and Genetic and Early Negative Events. Cronbachs α coefficients were of low to high reliability
(Kline, 1986) and are also reported in Table 2.
3.3. Treatment
PCA was carried out with the same criteria as the above two PCAs with 9 of the 12 treatment items. Three of the
items, Item 34 (Narcissism can be successfully treated by Freudian psychoanalysis), Item 36 (Group therapy can
effectively treat narcissism) and Item 39 (Although some narcissists behaviour can be treated a person’s perso-
nality cannot be dramatically changed) were excluded due to low communalities (.37, .47 and .31 respectively).
The PCA carried out on the 9 items demonstrated the existence of two factors accounting for 56% of the va-
riance. The Bartlett’s test of sphericity was significant χ2 = 525.25, df = 36, p < .001 which together with the
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy KMO = .78 demonstrated that the remaining nine items had
sufficient common variance for a PCA (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). The first factor consisted of six items refer-
ring to Treatability and Less Severe Treatment (Eigen value 3.14, accounting for 35% of the variance).
The second factor consisted of three items referring to Clinical Treatment (Eigen value 1.93, accounting for
22% of the variance). The factor loadings for each item in each factor are reported in Table 3, along with factor
scores. Participants rated Treatability and Less Severe Treatment as more effective than Clinical Treatment.
Cronbachs α coefficients were of low to moderate reliability and are also reported in Table 3 (Kline, 1986).
Table 2. The means, standard deviations, factor loadings, Eigen values and alphas of the 12 aetiology items.
Factor and Items Eigen Value Variance/Factor Loading Mean (SD) Alpha
) Social and Cognitive Explanations 3.15 26.2 4.18 (1.06) .81
Narcissism can be caused by parenting styles such as
excessive pampering and extremely
high expectations. .80
Narcissism can be caused by learning narcissistic
behaviours from parents.
Narcissism can be caused by distorted cognitions.
Narcissism can be caused by disruptions to
the attachment process with the primary
caregiver. .62
Narcissism can be caused by a lack of opportunity
to gain approval from parents.
Narcissism is caused by society’s approval of boasting
about our accomplishments and status.
) Genetics and Early Negative Events 1.83 15.3 3.56 (1.30) .60
Narcissism is hereditary and therefore genetic
. .83
Narcissism is caused by physical/mental abuse as a child/adolescent.
) Negative Feelings 1.74 14.5 3.86 (1.26) .62
Low self esteem causes narcissistic traits.
Anxiety causes narcissism.
Non Loading Items
Narcissism is caused by purely environmental/social factors.
Narcissism is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
K. Wright, A. Furnham
Table 3. The means, standard deviations, factor loadings, Eigen values and alphas of the 9 treatment items.
Factor and Items Eigen Value Variance/Factor Loading Mean (SD) Alpha
Treatability and Less Severe Treatment
3.14 34.89 4.22 (.73) .57
Family therapy can be effective in treating narcissism.
Narcissism can be improved by environments
in which cooperation is necessary.
Counselling can improve narcissistic behaviour.
Narcissism can be successfully treated by
cognitive behavioural therapy.
Narcissism cannot be
treated. .70
Narcissists can improve their behaviour without treatment
but by realising the problems that their behaviour causes.
Clinical Treatment
1.93 21.49 3.79 (1.18) .63
Narcissism can be effectively treated by medication.
It is necessary to see a clinical psychologist
in order to recover from narcissism.
Inpatient hospital care can aid the treatment of narcissists.
3.4. Correlations
Bivariate Pearson correlations were conducted between each of the eight extracted factors, the study of mental
illness, personal diagnosis of a mental illness, qualifications, gender age and NPI score to investigate whether
participants have a monological belief system regarding NPD and to test the hypothesis that lay beliefs would be
affected by the above demographics. As can be seen in Table 4 the factor scores were not all correlated with
each other. Superficiality and Social Problems correlated with Social Cognitive Explanations, Genetics and
Early Negative Feelings, Treatability and Less Severe Treatment and Clinical Treatment. Business Abilities cor-
related with Genetics and Early Negative Events, Negative Feelings and Treatability and Less Severe Treatment.
Fragility correlated with Social and Cognitive Explanations, Negative Feelings, Treatability and Less Severe
Treatment. Social and Cognitive Explanations correlated with Treatability and Less Severe Treatment and
Clinical Treatment. Genetics and Early Negative Events correlated with Clinical Treatment. Negative Feelings
correlated with Treatability and Less Severe Treatment.
The study of mental illness correlated with fragility and age. Personal diagnosis of mental illness correlated
with Treatability and Less Severe Treatment, Clinical Treatment and Superficiality and Social Problems. Quali-
fications correlated with Negative Feelings, Age and NPI Score. Gender correlated with Age and NPI Score. Age
correlated with Fragility and Social and Cognitive Explanations and NPI Score. NPI Score correlated with Ge-
netics and Early Negative Events, Negative Feelings and Social and Cognitive Explanations. This partly sup-
ports the hypothesis that participant’s beliefs would be affected by whether people have studied mental illness,
personal experience of mental illness and qualifications, gender, age and NPI Score because some beliefs were
associated with these demographics but others were not.
4. Discussion
Regarding manifestations laypeople agreed on statements referring to superficiality and social problems, busi-
ness abilities and fragility. Laypeople’s beliefs regarding the aetiology of NPD factored into three components,
social and cognitive explanations, negative feelings, and genetics and early negative events. Laypeople do not
distinguish between social and cognitive factors suggesting an adoption of social-cognitive explanations by lay-
people. No distinction was made between biological and psychological causes or genetics and early negative
events. This demonstrates a lack of knowledge of NPD. Psychological explanations of aetiology were rated
more positively than genetic explanations (genetic and early negative events) which supports past research
K. Wright, A. Furnham
Table 4. Bivariate Pearson correlations between the eight extracted factor scores, study of mental illness, interest in mental
illness, qualification, gender, age and NPI score.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
) Superficiality and Social Problems .00
.26** .34**
.11 .51** .45**
.02 .17* .00 .07 .07 .07
) Business Abilities .01
.13 .24** .16* .17* .14 .08 .02 .04 .04 .14 .03
) Fragility .26** .04 .20** .33** .11 .13* .08 .04 .10 .19** .03
) Social and Cognitive Explanations .00 .00 .64** .19* .03 .07 .01 .11 .17* .16*
) Genetics and Early Negative Events .00 .11 .54** .10 .07 .02 .02 .07 .14*
) Negative Feelings .20** .13 .06 .03 .25** .03 . 05 17*
) Treatability and Less Severe Treatment .00 .09 .16** .08 .02 .03 .02
) Clinical Treatment .05 .14* .01 .06 .13 .09
) Study of Mental Illness .14 .05 .11 .26** .03
) Diagnosed with Mental Illness .01 .00 .05 .03
) Qualifications .08 .16* .15*
) Gender .21** .30**
) Age .19**
*p < .05; **p < .001.
(Furnham, Kirby, & McClelland, 2011; Link, Phelan, Bresnahan, Stueve, & Pescosolido, 1999). Laypeople dis-
tinguished clinical treatments from treatability and less severe treatments but not between psychological and
biological treatments. Therefore laypeople may think in terms of the severity of treatment rather than making
biological or psychological distinctions. This may be useful in everyday life but demonstrates poor knowledge
of NPD.
Not all factors correlated with each other, suggesting that laypeople have a multi-logical belief system re-
garding NPD, with several different belief structures. This differs from Furnham, Daoud and Swami (2009) who
found that laypeople have a monological belief system regarding psychopathy. This suggests that beliefs regard-
ing different personality disorders do not all come from the same belief system. Most of the factors had low or
moderate alphas and therefore caution should be taken when drawing conclusions from these results. However,
the factors, especially when viewed alongside the findings of Furnham, Kirby and McClelland (2011) are useful
in guiding our knowledge of laypeople’s beliefs and demonstrating a lack of knowledge of NPD.
A limitation is that the current study’s results could be due to order effects. Participants may have been less
likely to correctly identify N2 and N3 than N1 because they thought that there could not be three NPD vignettes
or that it was a test of at what severity narcissistic traits becomes a disorder. However this is unlikely because
some participants did identify N3 correctly and the vignettes used appear very different which is supported by
the content analysis.
All demographics tested except gender correlated with at least one factor. Diagnosis of a mental illness and
NPI Score were the most predictive demographics. Personal experience of a disorder may influence beliefs re-
garding other disorders. This partly supports Furnham, Kirby and McClelland (2011) who found that personal
experience of a mental illness related to lay theories of NPD because the diagnosis of a mental illness was re-
lated to three factors but not all factors. The findings also suggest that people’s narcissistic traits influence their
beliefs regarding NPD and that we form beliefs regarding personality around our own personality traits. This
may make changing people’s beliefs regarding personality disorders hard because some argue that personality
cannot be dramatically changed (Costa & McCrae, 1994) and it is therefore necessary to investigate whether this
finding can be replicated and whether it applies to other personality disorders, for example whether peoples
Schizotypal traits influence their beliefs regarding Schizotypal personality disorder.
K. Wright, A. Furnham
Our results partly confirm the hypothesis that the study of mental illness (Furnham, Daoud, & Swami, 2009),
personal experience of mental illness (Furnham, Abajian, & McClelland, 2011), qualifications (Lauber, Carlos,
& Wolf, 2005), age (Fisher & Goldney, 2003), gender (Wang, Adair, Fick, Lai, Waye, Jorm, & Addington, 2007)
and NPI score would relate to participants opinions of the manifestations, aetiology and treatment of NPD, the
identification of vignettes and participants likeliness to suggest help. This is because all demographics tested
except gender correlated with lay beliefs. Age, NPI score and the study of mental illnesses related to the correct
identification of some vignettes. The findings partly support the past research except Wang, Adair, Fick, Lai,
Waye, Jorm and Addington (2007). However demographics were more predictive of lay theories than mental
health literacy when the past research that the hypothesis was based on investigated demographics relation to
mental health literacy, except Furnham, Daoud and Swami (2009). Therefore the current study’s findings do not
support previous research in this way.
Overall our results suggest that how “abnormal” people deem certain traits to be is a key factor in identifying
and suggesting help for personality disorders and mental illnesses. However, abnormality is not the only factor
because differences in abnormality did not always lead to the same pattern of mental health literacy across par-
ticipants. Knowledge of the specific disorder tested may also influence people’s mental health literacy, espe-
cially regarding peoples likeliness to suggest help ratings because demographics did not influence this. Lay-
people may not be willing to suggest help or label someone with a disorder unless they are sure that they have a
problem. This is supported by the most frequent reason for a delay in seeking help is a lack of knowledge
(Thompson, Hunt, & Issakidis, 2004).
A limitation is that the current sample is not representative of the wider British population due to the method
of sampling used. In addition, some of the items may require modification in subsequent research. This study is
therefore useful as preliminary research into laypeople’s beliefs regarding NPD but future research should aim to
gain a more representative sample.
5. Conclusion
Lay people seem relatively ignorant about the causes, manifestations and treatment of Narcissism. There were
few significant correlates of knowledge of NPD which suggests fairly widespread lack of information and data
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... One of these studies also points to cross-associations in the way that both parenting styles are associated with both form of narcissism (Otway & Vignoles, 2006). Wright and Furnham (2014) found that laypeople indeed deem dysfunctional parenting, such as excessive praise, lack of approval, or physical/mental abuse, to cause narcissism. Here, we aim to extend these findings by differentiating between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. ...
... Prior knowledge of narcissism may influence the way we perceive narcissistic individuals. Wright and Furnham (2014) found that the prior knowledge about mental illness in general is positively associated with a belief in narcissistic fragility. To further understand whether fragility is attributed to grandiose or vulnerable aspects, however, a separate assessment of the two forms would be needed. ...
... , 2 0 1 7 ) . Furthermore, Wright and Furnham's (2014) findings suggest that raters' narcissism influences their beliefs about causes of narcissistic personality. Specifically, individuals higher on narcissism endorsed early negative events as a cause of narcissism more frequently. ...
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... Gratification from achievements comes from external praise rather than an inner sense of an achievement being accomplished in NPD patients. [17] Sasweda gaatram (sweating) Problems related to anger management are relatively common to paranoid, antisocial, borderline, and narcissistic personality disorders. Individuals with these diagnoses tend to react in overtly angry styles when triggered either by internal or external cues. ...
... [12] Grandiosity (exaggerating talents and an unrealistic sense of superiority) has been found to be a key in discriminating NPD from other personality disorders. [17] Grandiose narcissism is described as a pattern of arrogant, self-centered, and domineering beliefs and behaviors. [22] Abhimaaninam and "Rudro aham," "upendro aham," "skandho aham," and "vishaakho aham" bhaashamaanam (claiming themselves as rudra, upendra, skandha, and vishakha etc.) of AG denotes "grandiosity" of NPD or BD. ...
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Asura grahonmada (AG) is one among 18 types of bhootonmada. Deva shatru and daitya grahonmada are used synonymously for AG. Bhootonmada is a broad category which comprises of various psychiatric or neuropsychiatric problems and they are assumed to be caused by affliction of evil spirits. Till date, no studies have been conducted on AG, and it is an under‑explored topic in ayurvedic psychiatry field. The present study is focused on better understanding of AG and its clinical applicability. The present study aims at better understanding of AG along with its clinical applicability. AG is characterized by Jihma drishtim (crooked/dishonest/ cruel/deceitful look), Dushtaatmaanaam (deceitful/exploitative/unlawful), Krodhanam (aggressive/hostile/impulsive), Atruptam (unsatisfied/unpleasant), Sasweda gaatram (sweating), Deva, braahmana, guru dveshinam (arrogant/ grandiose/envious/negative emotionality), Nirbhayam & Shooram (reckless behaviour/impulsive), Abhimaaninam (grandiosity), Vyavasaayinam (violent/ unlawful/firmness/persistence), ‘Rudro aham’,’ upendro Aham’, ‘skandho aham’, ‘vishaakho aham’ bhaashamaanam (grandiosity), Vikruta vaacham (hostility/ verbal aggression), Asakrit hasantam (laughing frequently/affective dysregulation), Sura amisha ruchim (fond of alcohol and meat) and Dantai, nakhai himsantam (violent/physical aggression). The clinical picture of AG shows similarity with various psychiatric conditions such as antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder (BD), and comorbidity among these conditions. Keywords: Antisocial personality disorder, Ayurveda, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, Daitya grahonmada, narcissistic personality disorder
... Narcissistic Personality Disorder Unlike OCPD, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is not as familiar to the general public [25]. People with NPD lack empathy, exhibit a high need for admiration, and have an over-developed sense of self-importance [4]. ...
... Although no research explicitly examines stigma related to NPD, a recent survey found that people with NPD are seen as being fragile, lacking self-esteem, and experiencing problematic social relationships. However, NPD was also viewed as a potential advantage in business contexts [25]. The lack of public understanding of NPD suggests potential stigma and need for further rigorous exploration. ...
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This article reviews the recent literature on the stigma of personality disorders, including an overview of general mental illness stigma and an examination of the personality-specific stigma. Overall, public knowledge of personality disorders is low, and people with personality disorders may be perceived as purposefully misbehaving rather than experiencing an illness. Health provider stigma seems particularly pernicious for those with borderline personality disorder. Most stigma research on personality disorders has been completed outside the USA, and few stigma-change interventions specific to personality disorder have been scientifically tested. Limited evidence suggests that health provider training can improve stigmatizing attitudes and that interventions combining positive messages of recovery potential with biological etiology will be most impactful to reduce stigma. Anti-stigma interventions designed specifically for health providers, family members, criminal justice personnel, and law enforcement seem particularly beneficial, given these sources of stigma.
... Narcissistic patient also feels incapable of loving or understanding others, while very little enjoyment is obtained from life other than the tributes received or from grandiose fantasies. [20] Many individuals with NPD fluctuate between grandiose and depleted states, depending on life circumstances, while others may present with mixed features. When Narcissists self-esteem is not gratified by others or they are criticized, this can cause them to turn to anger. ...
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Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, occupational field or financial affairs. Narcissistic personality disorder individual generally unhappy and disappointed. They believe they deserve admiration. According to Acharya Charak, Unnmad, is the Manasvyadhi is which understood as the disturbed condition of the Manas (mind), Buddhi (understanding), Samjna (consciousness), Gynana (perception), Smriti (memory), Bhakti (inclination), Sheela (character), Chesta (behaviour), and Achara (conduct). As a result, Citta gets disturbed and in turn causes impairment of Budhhi. Due to this, the individual person feels different sign and symptoms like loss of confidence, irrelevant talk, biased willing and thinking, deprived memory, decision and responsiveness. The signs and symptoms of Asura Graha Unmada (AG) such as Jihma Drishtim, Dushtaatmaanaam, Krodhanam, Atruptam, Sasweda Gaatram, Deva, Braahmana, Guru Dveshinam, etc show similarity with deceitfulness, exploitation, antisocial, aggressiveness, impulsivity, negative emotionality, grandiosity, dysphoria, alcohol abuse, and physical violence features commonly found in various personality disorders such as Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD) , Bipolar Disorder (BD), and NPD and others personality disorder or comorbid condition among them. Manasa Vyadhi, Graha Rogas are less focused topic in Ayurveda. The aim of this article to explain Asura Graha Unmada and its correlation with contemporary view. After proper review it is concluded that the signs and symptoms of Asura Graha (AG) Unmada such as Jihma Drishtim, Dushtaatmaanaam, Krodhanam, Atruptam, Sasweda Gaatram, Deva, Braahmana, Guru Dveshinam, etc shows similarity with various personality disorders.
This paper reports a differential diagnostic study of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD). The semistructured Diagnostic Interview for Narcissism (DIN) was used on 24 patients clinically diagnosed with NPD and 20 with BPD to assess 33 characteristics imputed to pathological narcissism. The results show that it is possible to discriminate NPD from BPD, and that the most useful discriminators are the criteria describing grandiosity in narcissistic patients.
The Handbook of Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the definitive resource for empirically sound information on narcissism for researchers, students, and clinicians at a time when this personality disorder has become a particularly relevant area of interest. This unique work deepens understanding of how narcissistic behavior influences behavior and impedes progress in the worlds of work, relationships, and politics.