What causes narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?

Updated: May 16, 2018
  • Author: Sheenie Ambardar, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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The exact mechanism by which NPD develops is unknown. Biologic, psychological, social, and environmental factors all probably play a role, but further research is necessary to confirm this supposition. Several psychodynamic theories point to an unhealthy early parent-child relationship as salient in the development of the disorder. To date, no genetic links to the disorder have been determined, but future research into the biologic basis of personality disorders may yield more information on the origins of NPD.

From a psychoanalytic standpoint, the 2 main schools of thought regarding the origins of the disorder are the object-relations model described by Otto Kernberg and the self-psychology model developed by Heinz Kohut. Both models posit that an inadequate relationship between parent and child lays the groundwork for the eventual development of NPD.

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