According to the ACA, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is being diagnosed at a much higher frequency than it has been historically (2013); at least within the United States and the Western World abroad.  Surely we are becoming more aware of mental illness, which may be some of the reason for the increase. Furthermore, NPD is showing up most commonly among college students and young adults. There are ongoing debates as to why this is, and likely it is a multitude of factors. So let’s look at some possibilities that may realistically have an impact:

1.      There are developmental shifts that are occurring due to: increased longevity, shifts in consciousness, present day stressors, and changes in world beliefs about aging, careers, marriage, and more.   

2.      The younger generations are exposed to different parenting, schooling, technologies, and a rapidly changing world, which in turn fosters and promotes traits that are seen in NPD.

3.      Competitiveness and perfectionism are reinforced as necessary in our current society, putting new or a different set of pressures on our younger generations.  

The “big picture” projects that there have always been changes, some good and some bad, that occur in human evolution.  We have all heard from someone, “when I was young we didn’t have this….or do this”…..etc.  Therefore, the development of more narcissism may be true, and may even be necessary, in today’s world.  It may also be that this new shift falls to the extreme and then at some point will come into more of a balance, as history often repeats.  Many people have a hard time with change, and may see this as a negative occurrence, especially when not being able to see the future outcome, but as with most things that happen in our lives there is usually an unseen purpose.  

Let’s look at some of the traits that are seen as being magnified in today’s youth that are also seen in NPD, such as: a sense of entitlement, competitiveness, identity seeking, and a strong focus on self. It is true that these are narcissistic traits, but they are not necessarily pathological.  All humans have some narcissistic traits that are beneficially used for self-preservation, protection, and ultimately survival (Ronningstam, 2013).  Developmentally, as we begin to live longer there may also be shifts and changes in a human’s developmental stages.  For instance, using Erickson’s psychosocial developmental model, the “Adolescence stage” from 12-18 showcases these very traits as being a normal process where the teen works at developing a sense of self and of identify that is needed in order to move to later stages of development.  Historically, the next stage of “Young Adulthood” from 19-40 was more focused on finding loving relationships in terms of finding spouses or long-term intimate relationships in order to start a family, which is not as true today.  Today’s young adults, at least during the earlier part of this stage from 19-30, are more likely to go to college, to enter higher levels of graduate school, and to be highly focused on building a career.  Furthermore, anxiety and depression have also dramatically increased for this developmental stage, at least partly due to schooling, the work place, and/or economic pressures among other things (ACA, 2013).  This is important because when a person, any person, is feeling high levels of anxiety they are physiologically more likely to be self-focused and self-absorbed.  In turn, the experience of anxiety from the pressures discussed may increase the need for entitlement, competitiveness, and identity seeking in order to succeed today.  Thus, likely being a period of time that many young adults’ struggle to find his/her identify and place in the world of work.  This shift may call for the “adolescent stage” to continue past 18 years of age, or to break the stage of “Young Adulthood” into two stages.  The argument here is that narcissism may be developmentally appropriate for some young adults.  However, with that said, there are also pure cases of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) within most age groups, including young adulthood, that are enduring, pervasive, and that can cause moderate to severe dysfunction.  

To learn more about NPD, check out Dr. Elsa Ronningstom Ph.D Harvard Professor


02/01/2017 12:51pm

I don't like narcissism much. What is your opinion about it? I want to know that.


Thank you for clarifying an important issue! Belonging in the “youth” has never been easy for us because we tend to be judged by other people's own interpretation of our actions. There are always criticizing us. They always feel like they know what is happening in our lives, but all they do is to look at us and think of the first thing to criticize about us. I have nothing against older people, but it is annoying whenever they blame everything on us. They keep on saying that we are the hope of the future yet they are the ones to bring us down. I hope they can see that we are trying our best to fit their standards.

07/03/2017 7:09am

There are so many beliefs and misconceptions about this current generation. As one of the Millennials, I think it's really unfair to judge us by the own standards of so many generations before us. Obviously, we all grew up from a different generation that's why it's really pointless to expect us to act like they did before, way past on their time. That's why I'm just so glad that you've finally spoken about this kind of issue that every should really be aware of. I just hope that this could actually serve as an eye opener for every generation that misjudged us for being who we really are.

02/04/2017 9:40am

I think that today's generation is far more complicated than the previous ones. There are condescending beliefs from the youth today. The youth today are taught about new things and grew up entirely different from the previous generation. We should consider their stand and learn from them as well. They grew up in an entirely different culture and I believe that they have their own beliefs as well.


People with NPD or Narcissistic Personality Disorder believe that they are special that's why they are so demanding and self-centered. One of the signs that a person has NPD is that, he/she requires enough attention and admiration from others. Obviously, Narcissism is not a good trait. In todays generation, we can notice that there's a lot of people who is likely has NPD. A person with NPD is most likely obsessed with his/her self and it doesn't sound good.


High levels of anxiety? I never felt this way. At all.


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