Narcissistic personality disorder is rare. It affects more men than women. Narcissistic personality disorder often begins in early adulthood. Although some adolescents may seem to have traits of narcissism, this may simply be typical of the age and doesn't mean they'll go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder.

Although the cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn't known, some researchers think that extreme parenting behaviors, such as neglect or excessive indulgent praise, may be partially responsible.

Risk factors for narcissistic personality disorder may include:

  • Parental disdain for fears and needs expressed during childhood
  • Lack of affection and praise during childhood
  • Neglect and emotional abuse in childhood
  • Excessive praise and overindulgence
  • Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents
  • Learning manipulative behaviors from parents

Children who learn from their parents that vulnerability is unacceptable may lose their ability to empathize with others' needs. They may also mask their emotional needs with grandiose, egotistical behavior that's calculated to make them seem emotionally "bulletproof."

Nov. 04, 2011