Does Praise Lead to Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

08 March, 2020
Q I was wondering what to do about having a narcissistic personality and anxiety as well.

Does being praised lead to a narcissistic personality? I’m not working at the moment but was wondering how to deal with it in case it affects my relationships with others.

Is there a connection between pride and showing off? I would greatly appreciate your help.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

I kindly suggest insha’Allah that if you are not in treatment that you seek out a therapist.

Additionally, there may be support groups in your area (your therapist can recommend) that would be very beneficial as well.

Please do insha’Allah write down any questions or concerns you have and bring to your therapy appointments.

Keeping a journal of your concerns/questions along with the responses can assist you in seeing what works for you and what doesn’t. 

Please make duaa to Allah to help you, to grant ease, and provide a full healing.


As salamu alaykum,

You are concerned about having narcissistic personality and anxiety and how it may affect relationships with others.

Diagnosis and Therapy

Sister, I am wondering if you have seen a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist who diagnosed you with narcissistic personality disorder and anxiety disorder, or if you are just worried about it.

If you have not yet been diagnosed and are experiencing mental health issues, please do see a doctor to be evaluated.

If you do indeed have one or both of these disorders, therapy will be very helpful insha’Allah. If you are presently getting therapy, you should insha’Allah continue, and discuss any issues or concerns with your therapist as they arise.

Also, if you anticipate and problems (such as social interactions on a new job), make a list of your concerns and bring them to your next therapy appointment.

General Information on Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) leads one to believe they are special and often times superior than others.

Often they have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. People with narcissistic personality disorder also believe that they are unique and often times these traits and beliefs become grandiose.

Does Praise Lead to Narcissistic Personality Disorder? - About Islam

There is a lack of empathy for others leading to a disregard of others feelings and even an exploitation of other people.

People who are narcissistic become jealous easily, may act arrogant, feel rage or trying to belittle others. They may become emotionally abusive.

People with NPD strive for success and perfection in most areas of life and have problems handling criticism and can become upset or angry when they don’t receive the praise or attention they feel they deserve.

Most experience interpersonal problems with a significant other. Most people with NPD are not able to deal with stress or change.

People with narcissistic personality disorder actually have deep feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability, and humiliation.

Causes

According to the Mayo Clinic, usually people with narcissistic personality disorder are not even aware that they have it.

If they do seek treatment, it is usually treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, depression or other mental health issues.

The causes of narcissistic personality disorder are unknown but may be due to the connection between behavior, thinking and the brain (neurobiology). This would involve neurochemicals, and other brain related functions.

Genetics may also be linked to NPD as research has shown cases where there is more than one person in a family with NPD.

This is in alignment with one’s environment as a child. The parent-child relationship may include excessive criticism or excessive praise from the parent which affects a child’s experience through faulty processing.


In this counseling video:


Praise

To answer one of your questions regarding praise: normal praise and having pride in tasks well accomplished will not lead to narcissistic personality disorder.

It may only have an effect if it happens in childhood, if it is excessive and there is a connection in childhood which triggers a maladaptive response.

Parenting styles that are neglectful or overprotective may have an impact in adult life resulting in narcissistic personality disorder.  

Pride and Showing Off

People with NPD do tend to show off, expect attention and a lot of praise.

They are often prideful when it comes to accomplishments, though it may be grandiose and not based in full reality.

Anxiety Disorder

If you feel you have anxiety disorder or if you have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, there are many different types.

As you not did not specify a type, I will give you some information about generalized anxiety disorder.  

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a very common mental health issue and it involves extensive fear and worry which does not go away and can get worse (usually 6 months +).

Anxiety causes feelings of fear, restless, irritable, muscle tension, sleeping problems, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and so forth.

GAD may even cause physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, feeling jittery, having aches, and so forth.

Anxiety disorder can cause problems in life such as in work, home, school, and in relationships.

Anxiety disorder may or may not be related to exposure to stressful life events in early childhood or adulthood.

There may be a history of anxiety in family members. There are some physical health problems such as thyroid or heart conditions which can act like anxiety but it’s not.

Therefore, it is recommended that anybody who experiences anxiety or panic disorders be checked out by a physician.

Treatment

Treatment for anxiety disorder usually consists of psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). 

Psychotherapy consists of talk therapy. CBT which is a type of psychotherapy helps correct thoughts which are distorted by working with thinking patterns, behavior, and reacting in specific ways.

It has a high rate of success. Medication is sometimes used as well for GAD. Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder includes psychotherapy (talk therapy) but is often difficult to treat.  

Most people do not present for treatment specifically for narcissistic personality disorder.

It is usually for something else and is diagnosed as part of a dual diagnosis.

Conclusion

Sister, you have great insight into both NPD and GAD.

I kindly suggest insha’Allah that if you are not in treatment that you seek out a therapist.

Additionally, there may be support groups in your area (your therapist can recommend) that would be very beneficial as well.

Please do insha’Allah write down any questions or concerns you have and bring to your therapy appointments.

Keeping a journal of your concerns/questions along with the responses can assist you in seeing what works for you and what doesn’t. 

The good thing is you are aware of certain things which may be triggers (not receiving praise/receiving praise) this will help you in the long run.

Please make duaa to Allah to help you, to grant ease, and provide a full healing.

We wish you the best.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.