Ever come across that one arrogant jerk who's constantly talking about him/herself while at the same time snidely putting down everyone else? These people will constantly regale you with stories of important people they know and hang out with, all the while hinting that they themselves are far more important than the important people. These people are the ones everyone is reluctant to talk to (because you can't get a word in edgeways) but always willing to talk about (well, mostly laugh). There might even be a Facebook hate page somewhere designed to mock these individuals.
If you recognise such an individual among your acquaintances, satisfying as it may be to drop a comment on that hate page, try and consider that there might be something more to this annoying personality. Namely, a rare psychological condition known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Narcissism is a term used loosely to describe self-centred people, but in order to be diagnosed with the disorder, these seemingly snooty people must meet at least five or more of the following symptoms.
This person must have a grandiose sense of self-importance and will grossly exaggerate his/her achievements, talents and will expect to be thought of as superior to others.
S/he will have strong beliefs of being special and unique, and will only associate with and be understood by high status people whom they will consider to be their peers.
S/he will constantly be preoccupied with visions of unlimited power, beauty, brilliance and success, both in professional and private life.
This person will require excessive amounts of compliments and admiration, and will be extremely self entitled, expecting unreasonable favours and compliance from others.
S/he will most likely use people to their own advantage and will lack empathy for others.
S/he will also be jealous of others and believe that this feeling is reciprocated.
In order to be diagnosed with this disorder, the person must be at least 18 years of age or older. Unfortunately, in most cases these people go through life without ever being diagnosed with this illness. In some cases when their illness becomes unmanageable, they are simply shunned by society.
The reasons behind this illness can be many. Some psychologists argue that it is genetic and therefore hereditary, while others say it is a result of one's upbringing and interpersonal relationships during childhood with family and friends. Others say this is a coping mechanism for some underlying distress. All agree however that diagnosis at an early age and treatment is essential for the sufferer.
This brings us to the treatment process, which is both long term and often difficult. Individual psychotherapy can be effective in the treatment of this disorder although this process is complex and time consuming. People with this disorder rarely admit that something is wrong and are reluctant to seek help, so it is important that family and friends urge them to do so.
Cognitive behaviour therapy is often used successfully in these cases as well. This treatment helps alter distorted thoughts and help create a more realistic self image and self esteem. Sometimes medication is prescribed to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Narcissistic personality disorder is more likely to affect males than females. Like any other personality disorder, the intensity of this one will decrease with age, the most extreme phase will occur during one's 40's or 50's.
The important thing to keep in mind is that this is a rare disorder, so don't go around diagnosing every egotistical person you meet with this illness. Sadly, nine out of ten of them will just turn out to be pompous little fools.
Anika Hossain is a reporter for the Features section of The Daily Star. She believes she can relate to those with mental health issues as she has worked as a residential counsellor in an asylum a few years ago.