Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition that affects a person’s ability to form relationships with others in a healthy and productive way. People with NPD have an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for constant admiration and attention, and a lack of empathy for others. Diagnosing Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be difficult, but there is testing that can help identify the disorder.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for admiration and attention, and a lack of empathy for others.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people with NPD must also exhibit at least five of the following symptoms:
- A sense of entitlement, where they believe they deserve special treatment
- A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- A belief that they are superior to others, and only associate with people of high status
- A need for excessive admiration and attention
- A willingness to exploit others to achieve their own goals
- A lack of empathy for others, including an inability to understand or appreciate the feelings of others
- An envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
- Arrogance or haughtiness in attitudes or behavior
What Testing can be Done to Diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Diagnosing NPD can be difficult because people with the disorder often do not seek help.
Even when they do seek help, they may be resistant to a diagnosis that goes against their self-perception of superiority.
However, there are several tests that can help identify NPD.
The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)
The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) is one of the most widely used tests for measuring narcissistic traits in adults.
Developed by Raskin and Terry in 1988, the NPI consists of 40 items that are designed to measure several dimensions of narcissism, including grandiosity, entitlement, and exhibitionism.
The NPI test asks participants to rate how much they agree with statements like “I am an extraordinary person” or “I like to be the centre of attention.”
Participants are asked to indicate the degree to which each statement applies to them, using a Likert scale that ranges from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”
The NPI takes around 10 or 15 minutes to complete and is usually taken in a self-report format.
Research has shown that the NPI is a reliable and valid measure of narcissistic traits, both in clinical and nonclinical populations.
It also has good test-retest reliability, meaning that people tend to score the same on the test when they take it at different times.
One of the advantages of the NPI is that it is relatively easy to administer and score, making it a useful tool in clinical settings.
Mental health professionals can use the NPI to screen patients for narcissistic traits, identify areas of concern, and monitor changes in narcissistic traits over time.
Additionally, the NPI can be used to assess the effectiveness of different treatments for NPD, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or psychodynamic therapy.
Despite its advantages, the NPI has some limitations that should be considered when using it as a diagnostic tool.
One of the main limitations is that the NPI is a self-report measure, meaning that it relies on the honesty and self-awareness of the test-taker.
The Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire (PDQ-4)
The Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire (PDQ-4) is a self-report test that is commonly used to diagnose personality disorders, including Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
This diagnostic tool is widely used by psychologists and other mental health professionals in both research and clinical settings.
The PDQ-4 consists of 99 items that are designed to measure a range of symptoms related to different personality disorders.
Participants are asked to rate how much they agree with the statements such as “I am often envious of others” and “I have a strong sense of entitlement.”
Each question can be rated on a scale ranging from 0 (not at all true of me) to 3 (very true of me).
The test takes about 30-45 minutes to complete and includes a variety of questions that measure different aspects of personality.
Like all self-report questionnaires, the PDQ-4 has some limitations.
Individuals with personality disorders, including NPD, may not give accurate answers.
In addition it is also possible that in some cases, individuals with personality disorders may not recognize that their behaviours or attitudes are problematic.
However, despite these limitations, the PDQ-4 is still considered to be a valuable tool for mental health professionals.
Used in conjunction with other diagnostic measures, such as clinical interviews or observation of behaviours, this tool can provide useful insights into an individual’s personality structure and related disorders.
The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 Personality Disorders (SCID-5-PD)
The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 Personality Disorders (SCID-5-PD) is a diagnostic tool designed to assess personality disorders.
It is an interview-based diagnostic tool that assesses multiple aspects of an individual’s personality, including cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal functioning.
The SCID-5-PD test consists of a series of questions that are designed to obtain information about a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The interviewer asks the person questions about their background, experiences, and relationships, as well as their thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions.
The interviewer then scores the responses, using a standardized scoring system to determine whether the person meets the criteria for a personality disorder, including NPD.
The SCID-5-PD is considered a reliable and valid tool for diagnosing personality disorders, including NPD.
The test has been developed according to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) and is widely used by mental health professionals in research and clinical settings.
One of the main advantages of the SCID-5-PD is that it is a more comprehensive tool for assessing personality disorders than some other diagnostic tools, such as self-report questionnaires.
The interview format allows for the interviewer to probe deeper into the person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and ask follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of the individual’s personality.
However, the SCID-5-PD also has some limitations.
It is a more time-intensive and resource-intensive tool than self-report questionnaires and requires trained professionals to administer and interpret the results.
Additionally, the reliability and validity of the test can be affected by the skills of the interviewer, meaning that results can be influenced by the interviewer’s ability to elicit and interpret information.
Limitations of Testing for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
While these tests and interviews are helpful in diagnosing NPD, they are not fool proof.
People with NPD may be resistant to admitting they have a problem or may be skilled at manipulating the results of the tests.
Additionally, some people may exhibit narcissistic traits without meeting the criteria for NPD.
Narcissistic traits are not uncommon, and many individuals may exhibit some level of self-importance or entitlement from time to time.
However, it is the severity and frequency of these symptoms that distinguish NPD from regular narcissistic traits.
Another limitation worth mentioning is that self-report tests may not always provide an accurate reflection of an individual’s symptoms.
The results of self-report tests can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as the mood of the individual taking the test, the level of introspection of the person, and the social desirability bias.
Lastly, it is essential to note that the diagnosis of personality disorders, including NPD, should only be made by trained mental health professionals.
The complex nature of personality disorders requires extensive training and experience in recognizing and diagnosing these conditions, along with other mental health conditions that may present with symptoms of NPD.
Final Thoughts on Testing for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a challenging mental health condition to diagnose accurately.
People with NPD often have an inflated sense of self-importance and a need for admiration and attention, making it difficult for them to admit they have a problem.
However, with the help of tests like the NPI, PDQ-4, and SCID-5-PD, mental health professionals can accurately diagnose NPD, allowing them to provide appropriate treatment and support to those who need it.