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The author (Campbell, D) traces the evolution of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as a nomological entity in a critical survey of the literature. They consider and compare differing theoretical viewpoints regarding the genesis of this disorder. The authors review its various descriptions, including the one in DSM-III, and develop a composite picture of the syndrome.

The authors propose that NPD consists of characteristic deficits in six broad areas of functioning:

Self-concept: Grandiosity, entitlement, lack of empathy, and a need for admiration.
Interpersonal relationships: Exploitation, manipulation, and a lack of intimacy.
Social adaptation: Impulsivity, irresponsibility, and a lack of conformity.
Ethics, standards, and ideals: A lack of moral conscience and a disregard for the rights of others.
Cognitive style: Egocentricity, a lack of objectivity, and a tendency to distort reality.

The authors identify guidelines for distinguishing the narcissistic personality from other personality disorders as well as areas needing continued research.

Key Points:

NPD is a complex and multifaceted disorder with a long history in psychological literature.
There is no single agreed-upon cause of NPD, but it is thought to be the result of a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors.
NPD is characterized by a number of deficits in self-concept, interpersonal relationships, social adaptation, ethics, love and sexuality, and cognitive style.
NPD can be difficult to distinguish from other personality disorders, but there are several key features that can help to make the diagnosis.
More research is needed to better understand the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of NPD.
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