Some people appear to go through life without caring about anyone but themselves. But do these people truly exist in an emotional void? Can profoundly egotistical people care about another person? Do narcissists cry?
What Is Narcissism?
Before we answer the question do narcissists cry, we need to take a moment to discuss what it means to be a narcissist.
Narcissism is an informal term that can describe someone who is self-centered and displays little to no concern for others.
The clinical term for narcissism is narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). As established in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person must meet a least five of the following criteria to be diagnosed with NPD:
- Possessing a grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of unending power or success
- Belief that they are special and that they should associate only with other special people
- Has a need to be consistently praised and admired
- Has a sense of entitlement
- Takes advantage of others for personal gain
- Lacks empathy for other people
- Displays envy and/or believes that others are jealous of them
- Acts in an arrogant manner
NPD is typically diagnosed in adulthood, though adolescents may exhibit signs of this disorder. Experts estimate that NPD affects about 5% of the population. The DSM-5 reports that males account for 50%-70% of people who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.
What Are the Symptoms of Narcissism?
A person who has narcissistic personality disorder may exhibit behaviors such as the following:
- Refusing to speak or associate with people who have not achieved a certain status
- Always expecting preferential treatment, such as getting the best seats in restaurants, not needing to wait in line, or being promoted over others
- Frequently exaggerating their own accomplishments and either diminishing or failing to even acknowledge the efforts of others
- Being preoccupied with what others think of them – and needing to be told repeatedly that they are attractive, successful, desirable, and otherwise special
- Being unable to identify with others or recognize that they have legitimate feelings and needs
Do Narcissists Cry?
As we have established in the two previous sections, narcissists have little to no capacity for empathy or sympathy. They are unlikely to feel bad for other people who are struggling with injuries, illnesses, personal setbacks, or other difficulties.
In fact, someone who has narcissistic personality disorder may view another person’s struggles as a sign that they are weak – and they may attempt to exploit this perceived weakness to help them achieve their own objectives.
But that still doesn’t answer our question. Do narcissists cry?
Although narcissists can appear to be cold or unfeeling, they can experience emotions such as fear, joy, disappointment, exhilaration, and sadness. One of the many differences between someone who has narcissistic personality disorder and someone who doesn’t is what prompts the onset of these emotions.
Most people are able to empathize with others. This means they can feel happy when another person has a success, or be sad when something bad happens to someone else. A person who has NPD may be unable to do this. Their happiness or sadness may be tied solely to what has happened to them. For example, a narcissist may not cry when a tragedy befalls someone else, but they may do so when they feel they were denied something that was rightly theirs.
It is also important to remember that NPD can affect different people in different ways. Some people who have this disorder may feel compassion in certain circumstances, or even be capable of genuinely caring about another person. Others who have this disorder may have more severe symptoms and feel no positive emotions toward anyone but themselves.
So, do narcissists cry? Yes, many of them do – but not always for the reasons that would cause other people to be moved to tears.
How Is Narcissism Treated?
Personality disorders are complex mental health conditions. But they are treatable. Treatment for narcissism and other personality disorders often involves a combination of prescription medication and therapy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any drugs specifically for the treatment of NPD or other personality disorders. However, depending on what symptoms a person exhibits and if they have a co-occurring mental health concern, the pharmacological aspect of treatment for narcissism may include:
- Antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, and Wellbutrin
- Anti-anxiety medications such as Ativan, Valium, and Xanax
- Antipsychotic medications such as Abilify, Latuda, and Seroquel
- Mood stabilizers such as lithium and sodium valproate
The therapeutic component of treatment for narcissistic personality disorder may include elements such as:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
If a person’s struggles with NPD are accompanied by anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or another co-occurring mental health concern, they may also benefit from the following services:
- Genetic testing
- Biosound therapy
- Spravato treatment
- Red light therapy
- EMDR therapy
Find Treatment for Personality Disorders in Nashville, TN
If you have been struggling with symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, Arbor Wellness is here for you. At our treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee, you can receive customized care and comprehensive support from a team of skilled caregivers. These dedicated professionals will take the time to get to know you as a unique individual, so that we can be sure we have developed the personalized plan that will best prepare you for improved health and sustained success. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our admissions page or call us today.