Clinical and Research News
Researchers Shine Spotlight on Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 15 page 38-38

According to Greek-Roman mythology, Narcissus was a handsome, vain youth who died from thirst while admiring his reflection in a stream.FIG1

If Narcissus lived in America today, he would find a lot of Americans competing for his place beside the stream, a new study suggests.

It found that the lifetime prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder among American adults is 6 percent

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, a lack of empathy, and a tendency to exploit others. But among the 10 personality disorders defined in the DSM-IV-TR, the narcissistic one has received the least scientific attention, Bridget Grant, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and coworkers found. So they decided to use data derived from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, conducted from 2004 to 2005, to learn more about the lifetime prevalence of the disorder.

The survey had included a representative sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized adult population of the United States, 18 years of age and older. Some 35,000 Americans were interviewed face to face with the Wave 2 Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule—DSM-IV Version, a structured diagnostic interview yardstick designed for use by experienced lay interviewers.

The major finding of Grant and her group—that the lifetime prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder among American adults is 6 percent—means that "the disorder is a prevalent personality disorder in the general American population," they wrote in their study report, which was posted online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry on June 10.

(The estimated lifetime prevalence of some other DSM-IV psychiatric disorders in American adults is 2 percent for obsessive-compulsive disorder, 4 percent for bipolar disorder, 6 percent for generalized anxiety disorder, 13 percent for alcohol abuse, and 17 percent for major depressive disorder, according to the National Co-morbidity Survey Replication, which was published in 2005.)

Also, the researchers came up with other interesting findings about the life-time prevalence of the disorder as well. For example,

Why might this be so? Narcissistic men might use substances to protect a very fragile self-esteem and to maintain a sense of omnipotence and grandiosity, Grant and her team proposed. Such substance use, they speculated, might then shield narcissistic men from the chronically depressed moods that are the hallmark of dysthymia. But why narcissistic women are unlikely to experience dysthymia is "less clear," they said.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

An abstract of "Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Co-morbidity ofDSM-IVNarcissistic Personality Disorder: Results From the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions" is posted at<http://www.psychiatrist.com/abstracts/abstracts.asp?abstract=200807/070801.htm>.▪

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