Narcissistic personality trait is becoming prevalent within the adolescent to early adulthood and is prolonging further by the sociocultural aspects. Twenge & Foster (2010) mention that changes in cultural practices that lead towards individualism also increases narcissism. Narcissistic personality characteristics stems from sociocultural environment that promotes individualistic ways and is prevalent in adolescence to early adulthood.
People with narcissistic personality disorder are self-focused, a study by Twenge et al., (2010) collecting data scores between different college campuses found that the narcissistic personality inventory (NPI) test among different college campuses across the U.S. have increasing scores.. Twenge et al. (2010) states, “American culture has become more individualistic over the past few decades” (p.101). In connection, the birth cohort study of 84 college students show an increase measurement in NPI tests. Significant increases in the mean of NPI scores for later generations means that percentages have increased in self reporting of narcissistic personality traits. This does not necessarily mean that these people have a personality disorder, because narcissistic personality can be mild to severe and it really depends on the individual with correlation to their sociocultural experiences (Twenge et al., 2010). Although, a number of confounds in the previous data affected the scores results because these confounds were the effect of college campus on the years that the students were given the NPI self-report evaluation. Selecting a larger and diverse sample of students gives data a more accurate analysis in measuring NPI scores. Twenge & Campbell (2009), mentions that increases in NPI scores in their study is a result of the shifts in parenting, education and the media, encouraging ‘Individualism’ (as cited by Twenge et al., 2010). Can it be that narcissistic personality stems from a shift in cultural teachings to each generation?
In relation to the western individualistic culture there is a case study of a medical student researchers call Mr. L who is currently seeking psychotherapy due to issues of anxiety and depression. As a student he does well in his academics and takes pride in his achievement, though too proud that he believes he is smarter than his peers and his professors (Ambardar & Bienenfeld, 2011). Mr. L’s behavior is a type of narcissistic behavior, narcissism is not just confidence, it is overconfidence (Twenge, et al., 2010). According to Ambardar et al., (2011) “Mr. L has very few close friends and believes that this is because he doesn’t meet people who are up to his high intellectual and physical standards” (as cited by Twenge et al., 2010, p.1). It is common that people with NPD who behave hastily or risky to be hospitalized for a short period (Psych Central Staff, 1995-2013). However, in Mr. L’s situation is not a severe narcissistic behavior that manifests danger onto himself. It can be complex to treat people who have NPD because health care professionals need to establish a dual approach towards the patient, such as acknowledging their feelings of self-importance but at the same time not to intensify their confidence with risking the patient in not believing there is an issue at all (Psyc, 1995-2013). Psychotherapy is another type of treatment service available for NPD and the three kinds of treatment is Individual Psychotherapy and Group Therapy/Family Therapy.
In individual therapy the healthcare professional will help the patient recognize the unhealthy thoughts and behaviors they display and helping form positive ones (Mayo Clinic Staff, 1998-2013). Psychiatrist will also need to be aware of not seeming confrontational towards the patient in risking them devaluing the credibility of the psychiatrist, therefore complete understanding of NPD is helpful. Group therapy/Family therapy focuses on the patient in developing empathy towards others as the patient will discuss with others and being able to hear what others have to say whether confrontational or support (Psyc Central Staff, 1995-2013). Complete understanding of NPD is necessary for health care professionals to help treat individuals who exhibit narcissistic traits because of the significant risks that patient may not continue treatment if not administered carefully.
A shift to a more collectivistic view encouraging altruism may have NPI score measurements decrease in comparison to the recent data analysis conducted by Twenge et al., (2010) in a cohort study of college students. Although, the responsibility also falls with the influences from sociocultural environment that has a greater effect on children’s early learning. There is no existing medication for NPD, though psychotherapy is the current approach in treating NPD implying that NPD is a sociocultural manifesting personality disorder. Additional future research can focus on whether NPI scores show a decrease in NPD to later generations by changing the sociocultural environment that unintentionally promotes ‘Individualism’.